Raised in Las Vegas, Jessica Miller is high fashion’s showgirl. In continual demand since signing with agency Next in 2000, Jessica proves that it is possible to have a substantial, wide-ranging career by being able to specialise.
Born on 21st February 1984, Jessica took the unusual route to modelling by enrolling in a local modelling school. In 1999, she was discovered by Corrie Singer and was a new face at Next by 2000.
Jessica debuted at Paris Fashion Week in March 2001, walking for YSL, Thierry Mugler and Lanvin. Her career started off impressively enough, but its initial progress was slow. She was a bona fide fashion girl – good enough for the runways of Paris – but the rest of the fashion world had yet to catch on.
It wasn’t until 2002 that Jessica received her big break. Many top models have defining moments: a point where their career goes from 0-60. Jessica’s career acceleration wasn’t just stellar, it went supernova.
Her athletic figure and long hair caught the eye of designer Calvin Klein. Klein, who had spent his life engineering a brand that speaks of easy American style, was already a dab hand at picking out new model talent. His decision to hire a (then) unknown Kate Moss to model exclusively for him in the early Nineties was pivotal, not only for her, but also crucial in terms of shaping a vision of modern youth for an entire generation, spearheaded by the Calvin Klein name.
A fixture of fashion since the Seventies, Klein’s name became permanently fixed in popular culture with the hiring of Kate Moss. The iconic B&W adverts, with Kate’s editorially-perfect face, transformed the brand into something that was universal in appeal. Klein’s decision to hire an unknown face changed the trajectory of modern fashion, and lightning struck twice when he decided to hire another unknown in 2002, Jessica Miller.
Jessica’s laid-back cool lent itself perfectly to the ethos of Calvin Klein. Not only that, she too had a face that could adapt at will. Any runway, any editorial, any brand – it was now Miller’s for the taking.
Her life as a fairly successful but anonymous runway model changed overnight when Klein named Miller the new Calvin Klein girl. She became the name, the face that everybody in fashion had to know. Success for Jessica had just become radically re-defined.
Signing a two-year contract with Calvin Klein, Jessica walked exclusively for the designer in February and September. In March 2002, she scored her first cover of Italian Vogue, and in October did an editorial for Harper’s Bazaar with photographer Patrick Demarchelier. In December, to crown off an incredible year, Jessica got the cover of Numero magazine. Photographed by French duo Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin, Jessica was covered in glitter. An apt metaphor for fashion’s newest – and brightest – star.
2003 presented yet more opportunities. In February she became a Pirelli calendar girl and was also photographed by van Lamsweerde and Matadin for the cover of French Vogue.
In the spring, Miller became the face of Fendi’s new ad campaign, and scored a double hit in May when she landed the cover of i-D and a coveted editorial for Italian Vogue.
In the autumn, she took part in the couture season in Paris, walking for Chanel, Givenchy, Jean Paul Gaultier and milliner Philip Treacy. She was also named the face of Tommy Hilfiger’s and Givenchy’s Autumn / Winter campaigns.
This body of work culminated in Jessica receiving the Model of the Year award in December 2003 at the International Photographer Awards. The award highlighted Jessica’s ability to develop a rapport with every photographer she worked with. It was not just a professional courtesy on Miller’s part, but a great way of creating a network of people ready and willing to work with her again. Her ability to be a team player also helped in creating some truly great photographs. Jessica’s early success may have been down to her genetic gifts, but what kept her working, was her ability to communicate.
Jessica’s work continued in 2004 with a second Pirelli calendar, and an incredible show season where she walked for over 45 designers. The names that hired her ranged from Marc Jacobs and Alexander McQueen to Viktor & Rolf and Costume National. Jessica’s new standing as the Calvin Klein girl meant that she was fashion’s latest runway star. Her affiliation with photographic work made Miller a popular choice because she immediately knew how to interpret a brief.
In 2004, Miller became the face of Chloe and Blumarine’s ad campaigns, and that was in addition to adverts for Gap and H&M. But in September 2005, Jessica made the startling decision to quit the catwalk. Bearing in mind her knock-out season just one year ago, her decision to leave came as a shock to many.
In 2006, putting runway on hold, Jessica concentrated on landing those lucrative high-end campaigns, and became the face of Chanel cosmetics, plus scoring the campaign for Jimmy Choo.
In September 2007, she appeared in the now-famous Numero ‘Spiderwoman’ editorial, shot by photographer Solve Sundsbo. Suspended in mid-air on wires, Jessica did a series of shots as a bionic ‘Spiderwoman’ character. Clad in skin-tight leather, the shoot was a feat of endurance, referencing Jessica’s comic-book namesake and Angelina Jolie’s super-sexy role in ‘Mr and Mrs Smith’. The photo-shoot drew attention to Miller’s couture-perfect frame and her willingness to literally hang upside down to get that killer picture.
From May 2008 to November 2009, Jessica continued her editorial work with French and German Vogue, i-D and Flair. After wetting her feet at the Chanel Resort show in May 2007, Miller made a triumphant return to runway in 2009, appearing at the Fendi show in Milan, plus walking for Zac Posen and Givenchy in Paris and New York.
A lot can be learned from Jessica Miller. Fearless in her approach to modelling, she has built a diverse career of runway, print and campaign work on learning how to specialise and turn it to her advantage.
Her runway-ready body and waist-length hair have made her a covetable name for both beauty and fashion brands. Miller has worked with firms such as Adidas, Helena Rubenstein, J Brand, Warehouse and De Beers. From diamonds to sportswear, Jessica has excelled in every assignment. Jessica’s decision to concentrate on photographic work has made her highly skilled at determining what’s required. Having a great face and body is certainly no downer, but knowing how to interact with a photographer is nothing short of fundamental: it’s Modelling 101.
Jessica’s ability to respond quickly in photo-shoots has meant that walking away from a highly successful runway career was not an error in judgement. Being flexible enough to switch gears mid-career takes guts, and it’s what has ensured Miller’s longevity in an industry where a model is doing well on a career spanning 5 years at most.
Having a signature undoubtedly helped to launch Jessica’s career. Her long-limbed, aesthetic beauty worked brilliantly for Calvin Klein, and helped her score dozens of editorials, campaigns and covers. But when you have a signature, there is always the possibility you can get cornered and boxed into that one look. Jessica’s decision to switch from runway to print was more than financial: it saved her career from potential atrophy.
Now working as a runway and photographic model, Jessica’s new-millennium take on American beauty continues to sell, ten years after her discovery in Las Vegas.
Miller has recently expressed interest in pursuing acting in the future. Such a leap is certainly possible: Amber Valletta made the move to Hollywood, and film stars Uma Thurman and Diane Kruger once had good careers as models before starring on the silver screen.
Jessica’s ability to work with others may well put her in good stead of achieving those ambitions. She has the potential, like Moss, to have a career that spans across many different media platforms. Resourceful and resilient, Jessica’s not about to be written out of the picture any time soon.