Earlier this week, we revealed American Apparel’s latest campaign. The retailer, known for courting controversy with their provocative ads, surprised everyone by casting an “advanced” model, Jacky O’Shaughnessy, as the face of their “advanced basics” line. Like all of American Apparel’s models, Jacky is gorgeous. Unlike most of the young hipster twenty-something nearly-nudes that tend to grace AA’s billboards, Jacky has long grey hair. And she’ll be 61 in December, she just told us.
Jacky’s ads for American Apparel have already garnered a lot of buzz since they broke on Monday. So we got in touch with her to find out just how this whole campaign came about, if she had any qualms about the shoot (in one ad she’s wearing nothing but a leotard and tights from the waist down with her legs spread–but as we said before, this is American Apparel and we kinda like that they’re an equal opportunity crotch shot-taker), and how she’s responding to the inevitable criticism. Read on, this is one awesome lady.
Fashionista: So how did this all come about? How did you get “scouted” as they say?
Jacky: It was around 11:00 p.m. on a Thursday night in February. I was staying with friends in the Village and had gone downstairs to have my nightly cigarette. I found a spot on the stoop and sat there smoking in my puffy winter coat and a woman walked by and said, “You look so regal sitting there smoking that cigarette.” I said, “Well, I don’t think most people would agree with you these days.” And she answered, “It’s not the cigarette. You’re just beautiful.” We exchanged smiles and she kept on walking.
A week or so later I was in a restaurant having a pensive dinner on my own at the bar. I looked across the tables and saw another woman who appeared to be doing the same thing. I thought she looked very much like the woman who had spoken to me the other night. I wasn’t sure because she had had the hood of her parka up when we were on the street and now she had a thick head of long, dark hair. But when she finished her dinner, she came over, smiling. She said hello and that we’d already met once before, and asked if she could join me. Of course I remembered her I said, and we got some wine. It felt so natural, like the most ancient way of getting to know someone new. She asked me about myself. We talked for a long time about many things; my life, her life. It was wonderful. My grandmother used to say, “We don’t make friends, we recognize them.” It was an evening of recognition.
Is it true that this is your first modeling gig?
What was the shoot like?
Lots of fun. You know, I’ve read so many times that modeling is vapid at best. I found it to be engaging and creative. It requires energy and an ability to communicate without words. Marsha had something in mind and took a lot of care to get it right. It wasn’t a big shoot with lots of people fussing and helping, it was just Marsha with her camera so it was very personal.
Did you have any hesitations about doing the campaign?
Did you wear American Apparel before doing their ads?
No. Though it’s not a simple “no.” I was 6-feet tall by the time I graduated from high school in 1969. There were no clothes for tall women. I take that back. There was a designer, Koos Van Den Akker [ed. note: he of the Cosby sweater fame!], who made clothes that fit me perfectly. When I put on his designs I could hear violins. Unfortunately, his clothes would have cost me a month’s pay so I put them back. Because clothes shopping was so futile, my roommate of 13 years made my clothes and I stopped believing there were any “normal” stores that would have clothes that fit me.
Marsha introduced me to American Apparel and all of a sudden I discovered clothes that are beautiful, affordable and actually fit. I don’t need to alter anything. They’re perfect for my lifestyle, I like to be comfortable. You could say American Apparel and I discovered each other. It’s a new world.
What do you do when you’re not modeling?
I’m getting back into acting. I also plan to organize my writings from over the years. I actually have a publisher waiting for me to get that together. Getting re-settled here in New York has taken a lot time. I am so thrilled to be home again.
Like we said, awesome. Go here to see the rest of the campaign.