Jourdan Dunn is i-D royalty. With seven standout covers to her name, she’s forging a career that rivals i-D legends Kate and Naomi.
When i-D first met Jourdan Dunn in 2007, she was a 17-year-old school girl who got homesick whenever she travelled, would rather stay in her New York hotel room than explore the city, and dine in Nando’s over anywhere else. Fast-forward six years and it’s a very different story. Mum to three-year-old Riley, Jourdan is loving and living it up in NYC (she confesses she even prefers it to London) and loves dining out on sushi above all else (“If you asked me that question when I did my first i-D interview, I would have been like, “Eurgh, raw fish. Are you crazy?!”).
When’s she’s not busy stealing the limelight on the world’s catwalks, or wowing in glossy advertising campaigns, you can find her dancing on the streets with Queen B in Beyoncé’s XO video, hosting her own online cookery program, Well Dunn, and painting the town red with besties Cara and Karlie. In the words of Aliyah, she’s more than a woman she’s an inspiration to girls and women everywhere. We caught up with the Greenford girl to chat NY life and more.
"i-D is like family. I had my first cover line tattooed on my arm, “You owe it to yourself. Set the world on fire.” It’s a nice reminder of how far I’ve come and motivation to carry on."
You’ve done seven covers for i-D now, which puts you hot on the heels of Kate and Naomi.
I love that I’m catching up with Kate and Naomi! It feels great to have a British magazine support me from the beginning. i-D is like a family and it means a lot to me. I had my first i-D cover line tattooed on my arm, “You owe it to yourself. Set the world on fire.” It’s a nice reminder of how far I’ve come and motivation to carry on.
A lot’s changed since we last interviewed you. You’re living between New York and London for starters.
Yeah, me and my brother Antoine moved to New York at the beginning of the year. I’m back and forth because my son is in London, and my mum looks after him while I’m here. My brother loves me modeling so much; he wants to meet all my friends. He’s always saying, “Make sure you don’t break up with this friend, because I want to get in there!”
Does he have any favourites?
He did tell me he quite liked Cara!
In your early interviews for i-D you were such a London girl!
Yeah, I used to really hate New York, because I was young and I was missing out on my friend’s birthday celebrations and stuff like that. Now I prefer New York to London. There’s more atmosphere and attitude.
What do you buzz off in NYC?
I’ve recently got into karaoke in Korea Town. I’ve always thought karaoke was cringe, but my friend introduced me to one and it had Drake and Jay-Z, and I was like, “This is so cool!!!” What’s your favourite karaoke tune? I love Usher's Climax. Man Down. That’s a really good one.
Can you sing?
Hmmmm…. I wouldn’t say I can sing as such… but that’s ok for karaoke. I certainly won’t be putting out a mixtape any time soon!
Have you been hitting basketball games in New York?
I haven’t yet, but I’d like to. I went to the NFL game in London, which was so much fun.
On a more serious note, what’s your take on racism in the fashion industry at the moment?
A lot of people spoke out about racism before the shows this season, so it put designers under pressure to use more ethnic models. So this season, for once, it was actually alright. The important thing now is to make sure it continues. Not just in the shows, but in editorial and campaigns too. If I do a show and I’m the only black model walking in it, it doesn’t sit well with me.
I saw you skipped Milan to go on holiday to Jamaica.
Hell yes! I’ve never been on holiday on my own before, so everyone thought I was sneaking off with somebody, but I wanted to clear my head. Milan is the worst, so I thought, “You know what, I’d rather go to Jamaica, go to the beach, have some jerk chicken, cocktails and chill. Then I can be fresh for Paris.”
Do you feel like yourself and other black models are treated differently in different cities?
Yes, definitely. New York and London are the best for sure. For me, Milan hasn’t been that bad, but some black girls go there and they don’t get booked at all, nothing. It’s really awful.
It must be hard to be apart from Riley while you’re doing the shows.
So hard! But he’s great, and growing up so fast. He’s almost four!
A proper little man.
He really is. He says the funniest things. Recently – and he said it so lovingly – he looked at me and said, “Mummy, why are you so annoying?” I was like, “Ha! Thanks Riley.” Then he stroked my face and said, “I love you mummy.”
What are your favourite things to do together?
Riley loves shopping. He’s like, “Mummy, let’s go Westfield!” I’m like, “OK, let’s do that then...”
Does he choose his own clothes?
He does. Some of his outfits can be a little bit suspect... If we’re picking out trainers, he’s like, “How about these ones?” and I’m like, “No, how about these ones?” I’m really not keen on Spiderman trainers. I don’t like character clothes at all, but he loves them. He’s like, “Mummy, I want to get an Angry Bird T-shirt.” And I’m like “Whaaaaaat?!”
You’re good friends with Cara. Who’s more of a nutter – you or her?
Oh, definitely her! She probably brings it out in me, but her. She’s crazy.
What about Karlie?
Karlie’s very nurturing and mumsy. She’s the sensible one, but saying that, she likes to have fun too and go out and hit the dance floor.
In The Exhibitionist Issue of i-D, you said you had a male model crush, but you wouldn’t reveal who it was. Can you tell us who it was now?
Haha! I think it was Rob Evans, and we ended up going out for a bit. Now it’s Willy Cartier – I love him. I feel like if I put it out there, I might get him. I don’t know though. Willy is like this beautiful Jesus.
Your YouTube cookery series Well Dunn is so much fun. If you were to cook a three-course meal for i-D, what would you cook?
I actually don’t like doing dinner parties. They’re too much pressure. But if I was going to cook for you, I’d probably do a Sunday roast, or mac ’n’ cheese, something simple like that. I don’t do starters or puddings. Sorry! You’d just have to make do with a main.
Who would be your dream dinner date?
Willy Cartier and The Game. I’m so in love with The Game. But saying that, I really love Pusha T’s album and Drake’s too.
What’s next in the world of Miss Dunn?
I’m in talks about doing a kid’s line. No cartoon characters! And I just got signed with an acting agency, which I’m really excited about. I want to do something that people wouldn’t expect…