Nothing can prepare you for how extraordinary-looking Jourdan Dunn is in the flesh. Those cheekbones. Those LEGS. We’ve met in a tiny room at Somerset House on the first day of London Fashion Week. Outside a whirligig of streetstyle bloggers and fashion press totter about on the cobbles as music from the Eudon Choi show thumps through the walls of the main show tent.
When she rises from a chair to shake my hand - in sequinned Sophia Webster pumps and a white t-shirt tucked into a quilted pale blue Moschino skirt - there is a clear foot of height difference between us. ‘I feel like a hobbit’ I say. ‘Nah’ she laughs, ‘I’m just a freak!’
Scouted in Hammersmith Primark in 2006, this ‘freak’ was the first black model to walk for Prada in over a decade. Eight years later Dunn has held her place at the top of a notoriously fickle industry - and all without losing her very down-to-earth West London gal charm. She’s still partial to a good Nandos and slots modelling contracts around looking after her four-year-old son Riley - when she was pregnant Jean Paul Gaultier decorated her baby bump with coffee-coloured satin for his SS10 show.
Today we’ve joined her as she gets ready to host a party for Maybelline (Dunn is their spokesmodel). So how exactly does a ‘super who’s partied with Rihanna, Naomi Campbell and of course her tattoo twin Cara Delevingne get all geared up for a night on the tiles? We quizzed her on her pre-party routine, from fuelling up on rosé to being the go-to girl if you need some emergency eyelash glue.
So are you an out-the-door-in-five kind of girl or do you like to take your time?
"I hate being rushed when I’m getting ready. I’ll take a good two hours to do very little, just have a few glasses (or a bottle!) of rosé, listen to some music and dance around to get in the mood. My favourite warm-up track right now is Nicki Minaj’s Anaconda; I’m getting on everyone’s nerves with that song. Eventually my phone will ring with people saying: “Where are you Jourdan?”
And if you’ve really only got five minutes?
"I’ll just put on mascara, a flick of eyeliner and make sure my eyebrows aren’t looking too messy. During my first season as a model the make-up artist Pat McGrath got out a credit card and pressed it against my eyelashes to give them a quick curl. It’s good trick if you don’t have time for falsies."
How much make-up is too much?
"If foundation is really caked onto your skin it gets all sweaty, which isn’t a nice look. Before a party I’ll detox my skin with a quick Sisley facemask, which washes off after three minutes, then I’ll use a Maybelline Baby Skin primer as a base."
Who’s on hand to give your outfit an honest review before you leave the house?
"My son. If I put on something he doesn’t like he’ll tell me. I was so nervous when I got my hair cut short, but when he saw it he said “Mummy I like the hair! The hair is nice!” If I’m really not sure what to wear you can’t go wrong with leather trousers, a loose tee shirt and a hot red lip."
Is the dress code dead?
"I don’t think dress codes matter so much these days. It’s all about wearing what you feel comfortable in."
How about pre-party food? Or is eating cheating?
"No, I always have a big meal before I go out, like a curry or a Nandos. You can’t beat their extra spicy half chicken with spicy fries."
Do you spend hours on your hair?
"I had long hair for such a long time - I think it was a bit of a safety blanket - but I could never really curl or style it. Now I’ve chopped it all off it’s so low-maintenance and I think it makes my clothes look different. Also when I’m dancing I don’t get such a hot neck! I’m equally basic when it comes to nails. I just like a mani in a neutral shade like nude."
What goes into the clutch before you dash out the door?
"I bring everything out with me to a party: hairspray, hair bands, eyelash glue, lipstick - the works. If someone says “has anyone got an eyebrow pencil?” I’m the girl who’s like “yep!” I have lots of mini bathroom breaks when I’m out, because my eye make-up will smudge or I’ll need to sort out my hair."
Are you militant about removing your make-up when you get in?
"Yes, I have to be. Even if I’ve come in at 4am drunk, I’ll cleanse, tone and moisturise. If I’ve had a lot to drink my Mum will know about it. She’ll say, ‘you had fun, didn’t you, because you didn’t take off your make-up!’"
Nicely Dunn... Jourdan’s top five party looks
Zuhair Murad (to an awards ceremony, London)
“This dress was amazing but when my agency saw me in it they said “oh my God, were you wearing knickers?” I was like “no, I’m naked. Why?”
Burberry and a ‘Cara made me do it’ T-shirt (French Connection party, London)
“Cara really did make me wear this shirt!”
Stella McCartney (Birthday dinner, London)
“This was my birthday dinner outfit. I saw it on the runway and said ‘oh my God I NEED this look for my birthday!”
Topshop (at the Met Ball, New York)
“I was there from the beginning when they made this dress for me which was great. I told them I wanted it yellow and cut-out.”
Antonio Berardi (hosting a charity event, New York)
“I liked this look. It felt very boss to wear.”
Jourdan's beauty bag essentials
Jourdan is the spokesmodel for Maybelline New York
Interview by Lucy Pavia / @lucypavia