Discovered at 14 in West London, Jourdan Dunn has captivated the world over with her breath-taking beauty, poise and dare we say badass runway strut - it's only natural that NET-A-PORTER’s digital magazine Editor-in-Chief Lucy Yeomans choose the beauty to face this week's issue. From her rise to fame, the hurdles of the fashion industry and caring for her son who lives with sickle-cell disease (a disease that is dear to my heart - my late father lived with the disease for over 40 years) she touches on all aspects of her life and it's riveting. Here's just a snippet of the makings of Jourdan Dunn.
Discovered at the age of 14 Dunn, from west London, first hit the mainstream when, at the age of 17, she appeared on the Prada catwalk – the first black model to do so since Naomi Campbell 11 years earlier. Since then, she has appeared on the cover of Vogue Italia, won Model of the Year at the British Fashion Awards, appeared at the Olympic Closing Ceremony and fronted campaigns for the likes of Burberry, Yves Saint Laurent and Tommy Hilfiger.
There were times, however, when Dunn would be on her way to castings and was called up and told to turn back because the client “didn’t want any more black girls.” The model admits that in the past, discrimination like this has upset her but thanks to her mother she forged on, “She always seemed to make things work without ever complaining.”
Like her mother, Dunn, too, is a young single mom. It was just months after she’d been crowned Model of the Year in 2008 that she found out she was pregnant with her son, Riley, now three. Soon after Riley was born, his father, the model’s long-term boyfriend of five years, was sent to prison for possession of cocaine with intent to sell. “I guess you could say that I have been through quite a lot,” she says.
Her mother helps her look after Riley, who suffers from sickle-cell disease, an inherited, non-contagious blood disorder. “It’s scary every time he has what they call a ‘crisis’, you know, when he has to be rushed to the hospital for more oxygen and blood transfusions…” Dunn is using her fame to raise awareness of the condition by supporting the Sickle Cell society (sicklecellsociety.org).