“Women's liberation has shown me just who I am and what I can be!” says Josephine Jones as she quotes one of Candy Darling’s lines from Women in Revolt, nailing the late actress’ distinctive bridge-and-tunnel Mid-Atlanticism. “I know everything she’s ever said by heart,” the British multi-hyphenate adds, slipping back into her own voice.
But who is Jones? And what can she be? She is currently in the process of figuring that out—or re-figuring that out, rather. “The banal mid-20s self-actualization of it all,” she quips.
Three years after making headlines as the first trans designer to present a collection at London Fashion Week—an ethereal mix of silk and chiffon, modeled by an all-trans cast—Jones has been exploring other creative impulses. “I’m taking time to connect to music and art and taking a few acting classes—things I would do when I was younger in a non-pressurized way without any kind of goal in mind,” she says, like playing the saxophone, which she began at the age of 8. “After my mum passed, my dad encouraged me to play,” Jones recalls, though she stopped playing after his death a few years after. A decade or so passed before she picked it back up, during which time she built a career in fashion as both a model and designer. Her artistic interests, however, have always leaned more syncretic than singularly focused. “I didn’t come from a design background,” says Jones, who graduated from Goldsmiths’ College in London with a degree in fine art. “I realized at the time that my paintings would look so much better as prints and psychedelic chiffons and gowns,” she recalls. “Fashion felt like such a boys club, everyone searching for the next [Alexander] McQueen or [John] Galliano. I was like, hold on a minute! I’m just as talented as any of the emerging male designers of my generation and have my own vision, so I spent all my student loans on hormones and chiffon, and that became my graduate collection.”
Jones, now 26, hopes that her future contains an endless making and remaking of the self—a staking of claims that, as a trans woman, she finds particularly resonant. “To insist on our own existence is sacred. What is that phrase, ‘Well-behaved women rarely make history’? I think a foster mom got me that on a T-shirt or a mug once,” she remembers. Wearing Chanel Resort 2022/2023 in these photographs by Heather Glazzard—shot in and around Jones’ apartment—also holds meaning. “We’ve both defied gendered expectations through our bodies of work a hundred years apart,” she says. “Chanel pioneered an androgynous sailor-trouser look that became synonymous with the modern woman. I am the new modern woman. I hope these photos capture that joie de vivre.”