God bless Agyness Deyn. I won't name any names but when you Q+A models for a living, that occupation can sometimes be challenging. Some girls are so young and so sweet, they say little. Not Agyness Deyn. The Mancunian icon is the single best model interview I ever did in my life. This was a Q+A we did last summer (it was a blazingly hot day in NY) at Superstudio Industria for a Spur magazine cover story that was being shot at the time. Forgive some of the references to clubs now defunct (Misshapes, Boombox) but I just wanted you to get the unedited Agyness Deyn experience. I wish you could hear her voice while we spoke. I laughed throughout the entire conversation because of that mad and adorable accent. She looked like this cute little anime figure with her blonde shock of hair standing on end like she had an electric current running through her. Agyness' vivid eyes twinkled with fun and mischief throughout the whole talk. After being stunned by her veeeery soigne and sophisticated SS08 Armani/Samsung ads as seen on frillr.com I thought it would be lovely to pull her tapes out of the archives. Here's the amazing and audacious Agyness Deyn on the record about her back story, her personal style and her plans for the future. The tape started rolling just as I was telling Aggy about the joy of growing up in NY.
TI:Its such a big city you can get a whole spectrum of experiences from it.
AD...and then again I think its so small in a way. I think , like you hang out in certain areas
TI:You're in the East Village .I have fond memories of the East Village in the late 90's.
AD:I'm sure it was mental.
TI: It was coming off that smiley culture happy face acid house Happy Mondays high.
AD:Well I'm from Manchester so I was like, brought up in it.
TI:Ah! Mad mad Manchester. What was it like growing up there?
AD: It was great. It such an amazing city. Its got a great music scene...its a great young cultural scene. Its really nice. And its not as big as London. I'm from North Manchester which is where I went to school and then I went to college and then moved to London with my friend Henry Holland. We grew up together
TI: Did you move to become a model or it was just on a whim?
AD: I just moved to London . He moved for university and I didn't really know what I wanted to do. So I was having a year off . I went down there to perform and hang out with my best friend.
TI:Next thing you knew...Did Henry have the intention of being a fashion designer?
AD:No, he was a fashion journalist. He was doing his magazine work, like shoots and then two seasons ago we were like, lets make some T-shirts. And it started out as a joke and everybody was like , asking where we got them from. So we thought we'd make a few extra, sell a few and then like, everybody wanted to have them in the stores.
TI So you were all about hanging out in London, going to the clubs and the parties... dressing up and having fun.
AD: When we used to get a cab to go into East London to go out, we used to be in the cab and the cabdriver would be like..."Are you going a fancy dress party?" And we're like "Nooo we're just going out. We're just going out to have a few drinks." But its the whole Boombox vibe. Boombox like used to be called Gold Sail.
TI: But how did you drift into modeling.
AD: I got spotted in London on the street. Me and Henry were in Kentish Town Road. And I got approached so I was like, why not and then when I started doing it I loved it so much!I thought this is what I really want to do. I really want to concentrate on doing this really well.
TI: Funny how your destiny finds you .
AD: I didn't know anyone when I first started and I'd meet people...Henry knew everyone.. being a journalist and we'd be at parties and I 'd sit chatting to someone for like half an hour, having a drink and I'd be like “They were really lovely” and Henry would be like “Oh my God, did you not know who that was? And it would be like that's Hedi Slimane.
TI: Its always better that way though when its natural and not forced.
AD: Yeah because I met Hedi in a punk squat in Paris and he invited me to his birthday party. And I turned up to his birthday party and didn't know who he was and I'm like” this is such an amazing party”. And he's such a nice guy and he's like come to my birthday after-party and stuff. And then when I got there there I had friends from London and I'm going “He's so nice” and they were like “You know he designs for Dior”. And I'm like “Really! That's great”
TI:And then you happen to take to modeling like a duck to water.
AD:Yeah. I just love it because you get to express yourself. Its a bit like being an actress in a way. Being yourself but having different personas for what you are wearing.
TI:You were amazing in that behind the scene footage of the making of the Nick Knight CFDA clips on showstudio.com. Where you a dancer at any point?
AD: No. Just like Boombox training. Cuz you know all those kids who go to Boombox are all like .you know.. the houses in NY where everybody used to vogue , its very much like that so going there... being young ...its like you're friends with all the drag queens and stuff dancing around so maybe I picked up some moves there.
TI:We must talk about your personal style. Was that more a Manchester thing that you adapted to London?
AD: Well I've always been a bit punky. Growing up I cut my hair off when I was like 11. No maybe 10. Because it was my last year of primary school. And I cut it off to how it is now . And people used to mistake me for a little boy. “They used to be, "Hi son, You alright?”And like to my Mom they would be “Oh, you have a lovely son” And as soon as I cut it off I'd change the colour . I'd be pink, red, black. Stripey. Like Rainbow colours, then I used to shave it off and start again so I've always changed my hair and was a bit punky.
TI: So it was instinctive for you right from adolescence...
AD: But obviously you never knew. ...because when we'd shave our heads off as kids ..people would be a bit shocked.
TI: Do you remember your first shoots? The first people who responded to you?
AD: You know the first person who booked me was (hairstylist)Eugene (Souleman). I had just started so I didn't have a book or anything. I just had a poloroid of me through my agency and Eugene wanted to see me and I had like bleached blonde hair, like very Debbie Harry at the time. Like a bob kind of thing, and I went to see him. And he was like” I wanna work with you”. So he shaved the back of my head off and he put pink and green and blue in stripes at the back.
TI: That's a good person to start with.
AD: And then my first major job was probably with Steven for Italian Vogue. But that was after I came to New York.
TI: Well there's a nice segue. The interesting thing is when you came to NY for being such an edgy girl you went straight to working with these very conservative clients.
AD:Yeah I think its nice, especially with Armani. When I found out that I got the job I was so happy but then I was thinking, “Does it go?” Do you know what I mean? . Because you have this perception in your head of what an Armani girl is like. But Giorgio is such a lovely man ...its so nice to work with such a nice company .
TI:So you come to NY and decide this is it. This is where I want to live. What was it about NY that pulled you in so strongly.
AD: Well. One the weather's better. I love the extremes of it being really cold but with blue skies and then warm. Just like the whole vibe you know. Its seems so much more like a lifestyle. I suppose its because I'm so used to living in England. I like it because its different.
TI:Do you miss the edgier earlier days.,, hanging out all night...not having to be up for shows and shoots
AD:I still go out and hang out at night. Its just that if I am doing a shoot I won't go out. I'll only go out when I have free time
TI: So in terms of your personal style are you more like a vintage/kind of girl?
AD: Yeah. I love flea markets. I love all the ones in New York. On 25th and the one...is it ...39th. But then I kinda like mixing it as well with the new stuff I really love.
TI:Well you get tons of the most amazing best gear in the world for free.
AD: Actually, I just bought loads of Comme des Garcons.
TI:What do you enjoy the most about the business? Runway or studio
AD: I love both.And I love it how you shoot for one period and then you do shows for one period . Its nice to mix it up. I love shoots. I love doing editorials. I love all of it. And its good to go to work and you don't know what you're going to be doing. And you're working with people that you've worked with before or new people.
TI:I adore yor fashion intelligence Agyness. You have a really great eye
AD: I love it. I absolutely love my job so much. I don't know what I'd do without it .And it doesn't really feel like a real job to me. I'm really dedicated in a way and I want to do it well and focus that way. But then I suppose you can't take it too seriously, you've got to have fun with it. Have some other stuff going on.
TI: Best places in NY to hang out at right this moment Agyness?
AD:At Sway on a Sunday night, they have a Morrisey night which is amazing. Because I love the Smiths. Misshapes... I DJ at Misshapes on Saturday night. Me and my best friend Jackson, we're like a tag team we're called Aggy and Jackie. And he's got long blonde hair and thick framed glasses and I've got short hair and stuff. We have so much fun.
TI: Switching to London. Best spot. Besides Boombox....
AD: Bistroteque's amazing . Its a restaurant bar... you can dance and its really lovely to go there before you go Boombox. Have some food, have some drinks and then go on from there .Its ran by some lovely people. Circus as well in London is good. That's on a Friday night.
TI:What's up with this jewelry line rumor around you and Mr Holland
AD: I don't know where that came from. We've been thinking about it. Maybe later down the line. We have a few projects coming up at the moment that we really can't talk about yet because of the people that we're doing it with . We have a few things under our belt that we're working on together.
TI:Are you thinking about becoming a designer yourself? Maybe? One day? (lol)
AD: I love clothes I love like buying vintage stufff... putting stuff together . maybe down the line I'd love to do some designing or styling.But yes there's going to be projects in the future. With me and Henry coming up.
TI: Is Henry still only T-shirts.
TI:No his show was like... there was T-shirts, there was jeans, there were these amazing clear Macs. There were bomber jacket. This season his new collection is going to be major. I was in London with him last week and he was showing me like the sample fabrics and all his sketches and stuff. Its going to be major.
TI: So its going to be Pugh..Deacon..Kane...Holland!
AD: I think he's up there with them but he's different in a way in that he's a bit more poppy. His colors are very bold. Its kind a like a cartoon version of them.
TI:Do you want a long future in modeling?
AD: Yes I want to be doing it for along time. Its such an amazing job to do. If I stop enjoying it I'll stop doing it but at the moment I love it so much that I can see going for quite a long time.You need to mix it up.
TI: How do you deal with all your fans and groupies.
AD: I never notice it. Its a real honor though when people do come up to me. Its nice to have the support of people. Obviously they like what I do as a job which is kinda rewarding to know I'm doing it right. Its so great to work for American Vogue. Like when I worked for British Vogue for the front cover it was such an honor because it was British and then for like Anna Wintour to be so supportive to put me in her magazine..
TI: Did you tone it down or do a full on Agyness when meeting Madame Wintour?.
AD: No. She's such an amazing woman... such an inspiration because everyone pidgeonholed me as edgy. I think its incredible that she thought my look could work for her magazine.
TI: Wow. Agyness I could talk to you for years. God bless you for being a model with such a wonderful energy .
AD: Oh thank you. Its lovely talking with you. Doesn't even feel like an interview.
TI:Yeah, I think the photographer is quite eager to get you back. Bye Agyness Deyn. You're fun!
AD: Thanks. Bye Bye Wayne. Later!
Agyness is hustled away and throws on her next look from the styling rack which is a vivid orange shift dress. It falls on her perfectly. Some girls are just born to do this!