ABOVE: AYA JONES IN NEW YORK, DECEMBER 2015. PHOTOS: SHAWN BRACKBILL. MAKEUP: MEGAN LANOUX FOR EXCLUSIVE ARTISTS USING JOUER COSMETICS. HAIR: JARRETT IOVINELLA FOR EXCLUSIVE ARTISTS. CASTING: SHAWN DEZAN FOR MICHELLE LEE CASTING.
Securing an exclusive debut at Prada is perhaps the holy grail for an up-and-coming model. Newcomer Aya Jones launched her career with just that, starting the Spring 2015 season in the Italian heavyweight’s post-apocalyptic-themed show, walking the runway in Look 34—a frayed topstitched top and paneled pencil skirt. Many took notice of Jones’ poise, 5’10” frame, gorgeous wide eyes, and pillowy lips, and the next week at the Paris shows, plenty of prestige designers came knocking. Scouted on the streets of her hometown, the Paris native signed to The Lions in New York and joined a roster that includes industry vets Karen Elson, Veruschka, Jamie Bochert, and Guinevere van Seenus. Jones, who catalogs behind-the-scenes snaps of her rocketing career on her Instagram and names trailblazers Naomi Campbell and Bethann Hardison as personal heroes, has several hush-hush campaigns and editorials in the works, and is prepping for the upcoming round of fall shows in February. Earlier this month, she walked in Valentino’s first-ever couture show in New York. At the rate Jones is going, 2015 will be a major year for the young model.
AGENCY: The Lions (New York)
SHOWS WALKED: Prada, Nina Ricci, Paco Rabanne, Maison Martin Margiela, Viktor & Rolf, Sacai, Giambattista Valli, Sonia Rykiel, Valentino, Miu Miu, Valentino Sala Bianca 945 Haute Couture
GROWING UP: I was interested in dance. I practiced ballet, modern jazz, and hip-hop. My parents are French, and my father is from the Ivory Coast. I also have an older brother who is 22. Growing up in Paris was a pleasure; the city is so beautiful.
DISCOVERY: It happened unexpectedly when I was approached by a scout on the rue de Rivoli.
YOU WANNA BE ON TOP? Growing up, I watched America’s Next Top Model with Tyra Banks, but I never expected that I would be a part of this world one day. Before becoming a model I never really followed fashion magazines.
PRADA: It was very intense to have so many people watching me. I felt many emotions at the same time but I was so focused on my walk and my body that I can’t describe all of them; but I do remember the stress, the happiness, and the determination. It was interesting to see the behind the scenes part of the show and meet important and inspiring people like Miuccia, Pat McGrath, and Ashley Brokaw, as well as the rest of the production—hairdressers, makeup artists, stylists, the assistants, and the other models.
WALKING THE WALK: I always try to remember what I’ve learned: Straight posture, confidence, eye contact. I try to project elegance and confidence in any situation. I practice two to three times a week.
ROLE MODELS: Naomi Campbell is a woman who I respect for her convictions and tenacity. She is an icon who, along with others such as Bethann Hardison and Edward Enninful, contributes a sense of the exotic to the world of fashion. The best advice has come from the people who have encouraged me in my work and supported me in different ways. They have given me joy and a determination to be a good person and stay true to myself.
DREAM CAMPAIGN: It would be a dream to have a cosmetics campaign and to work with Chanel, Dior, and Louis Vuitton.
COMING UP: I can’t tell you yet. But a lot has happened—both editorials and campaigns, and I can’t wait for them to come out. I’m also looking forward to next show season and even more exciting experiences.
For more from the 15 Faces of 2015, click here.