Born in 1992, New Jersey native Jacquelyn Jablonski started her career signing with prestigious agency Ford Models in 2007.
In January 2008, Jablonski hit the headlines when she became a finalist in Ford’s ‘Supermodel of the World’ contest. A competition famous for cherry-picking the very best of new modelling talent, Jacquelyn’s placing got her noticed by the industry, with www.models.com showcasing her as a face to watch.
Ford, an agency with a reputation for not only spotting but cultivating talent, built on Jacquelyn’s early success with runway bookings for resort collections (Proenza Schouler, June 2009) and pre-fall appearances for Emanuel Ungaro.
The obvious move on Jacquelyn becoming a Ford finalist would have been to launch her immediately into Fashion Week. But Ford instead let Jacquelyn develop her skills on the runway, with regular appearances making her increasingly visible – and credible. The drip-feed effect paid off, with Jablonski getting hired for a number of editorials with V and Italian Elle, but later that year, Jacquelyn made an impact that was hard to ignore.
The all-American girl scooped a campaign with the ultimate American brand. Hired to appear in ads for Calvin Klein Jeans, Jablonski’s high-fashion look added edge to the iconic campaign. Her status had transformed overnight from new arrival to the latest must-hire model.
Jacquelyn experienced her breakout runway season in September 2009, walking for names such as Thakoon, Gucci, Prada, Balenciaga, Lanvin and YSL. She was now coveted by every major designer, and www.style.com named her one of their Top 10 Newcomers of the entire season.
While 2009 was undeniably successful for Jablonski, 2010 would prove to be the year where her career really took off. Landing campaigns for D&G and Celine in early 2010, she walked the couture runways in January for Valentino and Chanel.
Her next ready-to-wear season in February saw Jacquelyn walking in an incredible 74 shows. In a season that boasted hit after sartorial hit, Jacquelyn’s astonishing presence on some of the world’s most important runways, elevated her to fashion’s newest superstar, joining the likes of Chanel Iman and Karlie Kloss; models that combined old-school star power with editorial know-how.
Further editorial work followed an extraordinarily successful season, with Jacquelyn appearing in French, German, American and Japanese Vogue. She also landed the S/S cover of French Revue des Modes, and appeared in the A/W look-book for Givenchy.
Jacquelyn’s year has ended with a prolific signing for Tommy Hilfiger’s label, and a 61-show season for S/S 2011 including appearances for designers such as Dior, Dries Van Noten, Marc Jacobs, Proenza Schouler and Sonia Rykiel. Still a runway favourite (anything approaching 30 shows is considered a huge success), Jacquelyn’s future as a new addition to fashion’s latest clutch of multi-tasking models is now firmly established.
Jablonski’s strong editorial features and couture-ready body directly counter the myth that American girls can’t do high-fashion. The outdoorsy, high-energy angle required for campaigns such as Tommy Hilfiger may seem at absolute odds with walking the runway for Chanel Couture, but the skill-set required to master them both are one and the same.
Jacquelyn’s success is not an isolated incident, but forms part of a group of young American models who are wowing the industry. Hannah Holman, Lindsey Wixson, Arlenis Sosa and Kendra Spears fulfil fashion’s fantasy of the all-American girl, but their ability to wear European labels that require edgier faces to bring them to life is something entirely new. The notion that an American can’t win over Paris – the home of haute couture – is rapidly becoming old-hat. Karlie Kloss is the current face of Dior; Karl Lagerfeld has been equally charmed by Chanel Iman and his current infatuation with Jacquelyn’s fellow American, Emily Di Donato, points to the fact that when it comes to high-fashion, American girls have no problem in making their presence felt.
But it’s not a simple case of take-over: the modelling industry has been wholly dominated by European talent for the past decade. Russia, France, Holland and Germany have turned out some of the strongest faces for a generation, and while America did lay claim to producing some of the greatest models of the Eighties and Nineties, its stake in modelling talent has got left behind. Fashion’s tastes for edgy and fashion-forward models got associated with quirky European faces, whilst American talent became increasingly linked with swimwear and lingerie. Success isn’t a dirty word in modelling, but it can be possible to have too much of a good thing.
This new breed of American model takes on every kind of fashion personality – not just the sunny, California girl or the moody, New York intellectual. Jacquelyn’s generation have actively steered away from cliché, and this simple approach has proved devastatingly effective. By ducking and dodging what’s expected, these American models have created careers on their own terms. Although she has been working less than two years, Jacquelyn’s work to date includes 60’s chic, neo-Grunge and post-recession minimalism. A quick scan through her credits and it’s clear that no two projects are alike.
Jacquelyn and her peers understand implicitly that fashion wants models that can embody any age, any era and any mood. Being a one-note wonder, however well-starred, no longer hits the right spot for the designers currently calling the shots. A model’s reputation – more so than ever before – relies on the premise that a new face can take on editorial, runway, covers and campaign work. A high-achiever in modelling today excels across the board.
Jacquelyn’s CV already boasts a wealth of runway experience and campaigns with iconic brands. The fact that Jablonski is also getting booked for couture shows is important too: it is the definitive marker of a great model. Even tougher than RTW, it takes bravado to wear couture and not get swamped by its grandeur. Being fashion-fearless is a definite asset if you’re to conquer couture and the sheer numbers of models making the trip to Paris indicates that when it comes to couture attitude, the Americans finally have it nailed.
It’s taken some time for America’s modelling talent to emerge from behind the shadows of such colossal names as Crawford, Turlington and Banks. The key has been to think (and act) laterally. Jablonski’s success occurred when she borrowed aspects from America’s modelling heritage, but her performances are far from being pale imitations of another woman’s genius. Jacquelyn sits front row and centre in a group of models that are proud to be unique, and their body of work is as much about embracing America’s modelling past as it is about carving a place for themselves in the years ahead.
Daring, diverse and dazzling, Jacquelyn is a perfect example of an American model that is anything but apple pie.