STIL Interviews JADE PARFITT
Supermodel and TV Presenter Jade Parfitt has kindly agreed to talk to STIL. At 6'1" she has long graceful limbs, luminous skin, delicate features, and the most mesmerising feline eyes imaginable. Over the last 25 years Jade has graced the world's most prestigious catwalks and fashion campaigns for the likes of John Galliano, Prada, Chanel, Christian Dior, Alexander McQueen, Givenchy, Versace and Jean-Paul Gaultier. She lives with her husband Jack Dyson and their three children in Notting Hill.
STIL: Having won a competition at the age of 16 on Richard & Judy's This Morning show, your first fashion show was for Prada. Arriving on the scene at the tail end of the iconic Supermodel era, you appeared on the catwalk alongside the likes of Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista and Kate Moss who were all experienced models and older than yourself. Can you remember how you felt before heading down that first catwalk?
JP: My first catwalk show was for Prada in Milan, to be honest I didn't know much about the label at the time ( I was only just 16 years old ) I was really excited until we got to the backstage area and every model I had ever heard of was there! It was quite a surreal experience being in a room with literally every supermodel in the business when I had been at school in Devon the day before, I was like a fish out of water! Luckily everyone was very welcoming and friendly - and while I'm sure I was a very obviously a new face on the catwalk I was just pleased I didn't trip over.
STIL: We are led to believe that the world of fashion is quite shallow and superficial? Myth or reality?
JP: I think all people need a bit of beauty in their lives and the fashion industry works hard to create aspirational imagery to inspire. I have not found the industry to be shallow or superficial, the people that really work in the business in long term careers are incredibly hard working and passionate about what they do.
STIL: Backstage, with an excess of the world's most stunning women, is the atmosphere competitive or is there a sense of camaraderie amongst you all?
JP: It is always fun being backstage at the shows, catching up with friends you maybe haven't seen in a while. I have always found the camaraderie to be great in that environment - when you are doing all the shows you get to see a lot of the same models every day so inevitably they end up being some of your closest friends.
STIL: You have graced the cover of both Italian and English Vogue, and worked with the world's best photographers including Rankin, Mario Testino and Steven Meisel. What has enabled you to keep your feet so firmly on the ground?
JP: I think my friends and family, and also having a healthy British dose of not taking myself too seriously! I have been so lucky and I enjoy every time I get to work with an amazing photographer and team, but equally I know that when I get home the kids all need feeding and no-one cares what I've been doing! I asked my son recently if he wanted to come and watch me walk in a fashion show I was doing and he said 'Mama, no! I have seen you walk like a million times!' Which made me laugh.
STIL: You have three children, how would you feel if any of them wanted to go into modelling?
JP: I would of course support my kids in whatever they want to do, however it is a very different industry now to when I first started, and I would hope that they each complete their education so they have options of things to do as they grow up.
STIL: You were a single parent for some years, how did you manage the International side of your job whilst bringing up your son?
JP: I was very lucky in that I have a very supportive family who were happy to help me whenever they could in terms of coming to help look after my son if I needed to travel abroad for work. There were many jobs I didn't take at that time so that I could be around for my son as much as possible. I think he has a healthy understanding that it is important to have a good career, but family always come first.
STIL: You have been presenting and doing backstage interviews for Vogue for over ten years now. Who would you most like to interview that you haven't already interviewed?
JP: Yes! Top of the list would have to be Joanna Lumley and Jennifer Saunders - I was thrilled that I got to be an extra in the Ab Fab film and meet them both. I have been a huge fan of their work and style, and they were both so lovely and I bet have lots of great stories too.
STIL: Fashion Blonde is your own Youtube channel. It celebrates your love of fashion, do you have a long term ambition for fashion Blonde?
JP: I have slightly had to put Fashion Blonde to one side over the last 2 years as I had two baby girls 21 months apart, I am looking forward to getting some more films up when time allows.
STIL: You and your good friend Jasmine Guinness founded the Charity Clothesline which raises money for HIV sufferers in Africa. This cause is a far cry from the glossy world of fashion. How has helping others in such a way impacted on your own life?
JP: We started Clothesline at a very busy time in our modelling careers, both feeling we were in a fabulous world which would be able to support and aid a brilliant charity like Clothesline. It was a wonderful experience being able to give something back and having a real impact on people's lives for the better. I continue to support charities I believe in whenever possible, and currently work alongside Mothers 2 Mothers on their events to help raise money to fight paediatric Aids in South Africa. I think it is so important to do something to help if you can.
STIL: You have just got married to your long term partner Jack Dyson and now you now have three children. How do you balance work and family life?
JP: Family life has to come first for me at the moment, I have an eleven year old son, a two year old girl and a baby girl, so life is busy and I am very lucky. Work is a wonderful distraction, and almost treated as a day off from being with the little ones non-stop! At this age it is hard to get the balance right, but things change so quickly at this young age and I don't want to be absent if I don't need to be.
STIL: After 20 years you are still very much at the top of the game. How do you keep your body in such perfect shape?
JP: I am still regaining my usual body shape after having my baby 8 months ago. It is a bit of a battle after baby three to be honest, but I believe in taking time to get myself back to fitness. I try to work out three times a week, and be sensible with what I eat - and of course chasing a toddler around most of the day helps too.
STIL: Your career owes a lot to your beauty and your physique. How do you feel about the inevitable ageing process?!
JP: Being a Mum definitely helps keep a healthy perspective on the importance of beauty, I am more interested really in being healthy, fit and happy. I think happiness and confidence in a woman or man is beautiful.
STIL: If you were being sent to a desert island and could take three material things with you, what would they be?
JP: A great swimsuit, a lot of sunscreen, and a cellar full of champagne 😉
STIL: What are you reading at the moment?
JP: I have just finished reading 'La Belle Sauvage' the newest book in the Philip Pullman series - one problem with having small children is not having much time to read, but this book was so worth finding the time. Looking forward to the next one already.
STIL: Do you have an all-time favourite book?
JP: I love Donna Tartts books - it was so wonderful reading 'The Goldfinch' last year, it's always such a treat when you await a book and it exceeds expectations. She really is a fabulous writer.
STIL: Do you have a favourite dress of all time?
JP: I have a beautiful vintage silk dress from the '40's that I bought on my old block in NY more than a decade ago, it is the softest all silk and the most beautiful bias cut.
STIL: Which brands would we find in your weekend wardrobe?
JP: Currently alot of J Brand and Uniqlo jeans, band t-shirts, My Comme/Converse collab shoes or Nikes for running around with the kids, Isabel Marant Etoile shirts and jacket, and easy cashmere jumpers from Chinti and Parker and THEORY.
STIL: What are your fondest childhood memories?
JP: I lived in North Wales for a few years around the age of 7. There was a wonderful lake near where we lived, and I have very happy memories of picnics and swimming at the lake with my two sisters.
STIL: Saturday night in the Parfitt / Dyson household?
JP: We love to cook, so we try to have an early dinner together with the kids, and once the girls have gone to bed we like to watch funny movies with our son. As my baby still wakes several times a night we're not very rock 'n roll and are usually in bed by 10!
STIL: Your son Jackson is 11. How do you feel about mobile phones/ screen time etc for him?
JP: It's so hard to get this right! We have just given our (11 year old) son a phone as he has started walking home from school on his own, so we felt it was unavoidable. However, it comes with a strict set of rules and he only has access to it at certain times of the day.
STIL: A beauty tip for STIL customers?
JP: I don't have a lot of time at the moment for a proper beauty routine, but I could not do without my dry shampoo, slick of eye liner and a good blow dry to help me feel pulled together. When I have time I love treating myself to a facial and massage, it's so good for the skin to feel relaxed.
STIL: A style tip for STIL customers?
JP: Don't be too concerned about trends, I think it's best to find your own style and take from the trends the bits you like - that way you get a wardrobe that evolves and grows with you. There are lots of pieces I still have that I bought ten years ago. That said, it's always worth investing in great pieces that make you feel good.
Thank you Jade.
Despite her many amazing achievements, her Global success and her exquisite natural beauty, Jade is a delight. Unbelievably friendly and kind, she is gracious and modest and has an obvious deep desire to help others in the World who are less fortunate than she is. What a lady.