Jourdan Sherise Dunn (born 3 August 1990) is an English model and actress. She was discovered in Hammersmith Primark in 2006 and signed to Storm Model Management in London shortly thereafter. She began appearing on international runways in early 2007. In February 2008, she was the first black model to walk a Prada runway in over a decade.
In April 2014, it was announced that Dunn was signed as the new face of Maybelline New York. As of July 2014, she was declared an icon by models.com. Dunn is a part of a small elite group of modern day models considered to be this generation’s supermodels.
Early life and discovery
Jourdan Dunn was born in Brent, London, and grew up in nearby Greenford with her mother. She attended Elthorne Park High School in Hanwell. Jourdan is of Jamaican, Grenadian, and Syrian ancestry. She admitted to being self-conscious as a teenager, due to her height and weight. She stated growing up, people would often tell her she should become a model, but she was apprehensive as she was not really sure what a model did. She commented that shows like America’s Next Top Model intrigued her, as they gave her a new perspective of the job.
In early 2006, at the age of 15, she was scouted by an agent from Storm Model Management, while accompanying a friend in a London Primark.
At the age of 16, Dunn made her runway debut in the New York shows in the autumn of 2007, walking in shows for Marc Jacobs and Polo Ralph Lauren, among others. Soon after, she quickly rose to prominence within the industry. In 2007, she was featured on British Vogue as a “new star,” and in 2008 Style.com listed her as one of the top 10 newcomers. She also walked 75 shows during the spring/summer 2008 season, including Louis Vuitton and Valentino. Dunn has since become a major fixture on runways, having walked for the industry’s biggest designers. She was often distinguished for being the only black model in shows, for which she later condemned designers. She has garnered attention for her legs and for her walk which she says she practises frequently with very tall heels, walking over 60 shows during the spring 2009 season.
In July 2008, Steven Meisel selected Dunn to appear on the cover of the Vogue Italia issue devoted entirely to black models. She has also been featured on the cover of American Vogue, British Vogue, Vogue Turkey, Vogue Japan, Vogue Brazil and Teen Vogue, Miss Vogue, Vogue Girl Korea, W Magazine, Glamour Magazine UK, Elle (France, UK, South Africa, Japan, Brazil), Wonderland, Manifesto, Fashion Magazine Canada, Madame Figaro, Pop, Russh, Muse, The Sunday Times Style, Ponystep, Antidote, Luella, and covering i-D magazine eight times.
She has been in campaigns for Ann Taylor, Burberry, Balmain, Calvin Klein, Yves Saint Laurent, DKNY, Michael Kors, John Galliano, Victoria’s Secret, Tommy Hilfiger, Topshop, Kate Spade, Express, Jaeger, Rag & Bone, Gap, Aldo, Shiatzy Chen, Benetton, H&M, Banana Republic, Zalando, Free People, Selfridges, Neiman Marcus, Pepe Jeans, Liu Jo and Saks Fifth Avenue, and was the face of Rihanna’s collections for River Island.
She has appeared in editorials for the American, Italian, French, British, Russian, Spanish, Turkish, Japanese, Brazilian editions of Vogue, Elle, i-D, Dazed & Confused, W, Pop, Centrefold and V, among others. In Teen Vogue’s November 2009 issue in which she appears alongside Chanel Iman, she discusses her and Chanel’s previous competitive relationship, as well as the challenges they face being black models in the fashion world. The issue sparked controversy as Dunn; who was 18 at the time, announced her pregnancy. Teen Vogue faced backlash from the media, who accused them of glorifying teenage pregnancy.
She continued to model until she was six months pregnant and couldn’t fit into any of the clothes, notably walking the catwalk for the Spring 2010 Jean Paul Gaultier show, with a baby bump. At the age of 19, ten weeks after giving birth, Dunn returned to the runway at London Fashion Week for the Winter 2010 season. For returning to work so quickly, she said her motivation was her son:
“More than anything, having a son has made me realise I have to make shit work: I’m his voice, I’m his lifeline, I have to be driven. I think he pushed me in the right direction. I’ve always been ambitious, but now I have more focus. I’m more hardworking.”
During the 2012 Summer Olympics closing ceremony, Dunn was one of the British models wearing bespoke fashions created by British designers specifically for the event. The other models were Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss, David Gandy, Karen Elson, Lily Donaldson, Lily Cole, Georgia May Jagger and Stella Tennant. She wore a gold and white gown by Jonathan Saunders with feathered headdress by Stephen Jones. She also made her Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show debut for the 2012 show.
In March 2013, Dunn appeared as the cover story in Net-a-Porter’s “The Edit.” In it she spoke of encountering discrimination telling the magazine that casting agents would say clients “didn’t want any more black girls”. In July 2013, she received media attention for tweeting that she had been cancelled from a Dior haute couture show, “for her boobs”; rather than her skin colour – which she noted, “usually happens”.
In April 2014, it was announced that Maybelline New York had signed her to join the brand. Her first role for the cosmetic company will be fronting the brand’s Go Extreme Mascara, accompanied with print and television ads.
Forbes listed Dunn in their 2014 top-earning models list, estimated to have earned $US4 million in one year. She appeared on the 2015 list having earned $US3.5million.
She is pictured in the September 2015 issue of Vogue modelling a J. Mendel fox fur boa.
Dunn signed a deal with British multinational retailer Marks & Spencer to design a kidswear clothing collection. The collection; called “Lil’ LonDunn by Jourdan Dunn”, debuted in April 2016.
A collaboration between Jourdan and British fashion retailer Missguided was launched in April 2017, featuring athletic wear. Revenue for the company increased by 75%, with international sales increasing by 130%, whilst the campaign with Dunn was active.
She appeared in a music video for Nicki Minaj entitled “Regret In Your Tears”, directed by Mert and Marcus in May 2017.