Jeny has a special place in our hearts. She was one of a handful of very early supporters of Marfa Stance, discovering us via Instagram back in early 2019 when Georgia first launched the brand. In true Jeny style she simply dropped us a message of support and encouragement and to say hi - which meant so much. She has worn her sage green Signature Quilt ever since, in many combinations, and now she has even taught us a new styling technique with the hood. She is our true OG muse.
A cover star during the 80s and 90s, Howorth was recognisable for her shock of blonde, cropped hair, tomboy spirit and enduring style, why she is still so in demand today.
She is also an artist who lives in Yorkshire and has just staged her first exhibition.
HOW DID YOU GET INTO MODELLING?
My parents were laid back, the sort who were happy if I was happy. I grew up in Hampstead with an engineer father and a mother who was a teacher.
I was discovered in a hairdressers in Baker street, I was one of those kids who was dying their hair green at 13 and a sister of one of the hairdressers ran a modelling agency. That was back in 1979.
Both Steven Meisel and Arthur Elgort taught me so much. Arthur always said what a great clothes hanger I was – which stuck in my head – that was my job, to make the clothes look good.
I became very aware of the outfit that was to be photographed and how to get the best out of it, clients really appreciated this.
I was Mummy for a while after I had the children but I never consciously stopped and was always offered jobs throughout my life. I liked children, I wanted to spend time with them, my granddaughter told me the other day that I was more entertaining than the TV – what a compliment!
WAS IT INEVITABLE THAT YOU WOULD BE AN ARTIST?
I’ve always been an arty type. I fiddled around for years, and I used to do Papier-mâché and make giant pigs, which I sold at The Cross in Holland Park. I’m not a portrait artist, I couldn’t for example, sit down and do a portrait of your dog but I’m really good with my hands. I’m a maker: I sew, make quilts and cook.
WHAT ARE THE THINGS YOU WANT TO GET BEHIND? THE THINGS YOU FEEL PASSIONATELY ABOUT ON A PERSONAL OR PROFESSIONAL LEVEL?
I think I’ve always felt I want to do what I want, when I want and that attitude has served me well during my modelling career. I’m even more selective about who I share my time with now and I make time for myself and want to make sure I’m okay. I’ve lived a mad life. And sometimes I feel odd in that way, like I’ve always been an outsider.
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT HAVING ANYTHING DONE?
I’ve had Botox as I wanted to see what it was like and it worked quite brilliantly but I’m not paying £500 to have my face filled with stuff every few months. Having work done though doesn’t appeal to me in any shape or form. I’m happy growing old and I’m fine about having lines on my face and I feel I’m in the best place I’ve ever been.
Life is such a bugger as it’s my favourite time of life and yet you are nearing your autumn years. There is a lot of joy in this chapter for me: enjoying my grandchildren, simple things like pottering in the garden, walking - I’m a very outside-y sort of person – swimming in the sea, having a picnic in the garden, not that inspiring but good for the soul. I hope to have a good 20 years like this before the aches and pains arrive.
HOW DID YOUR ARTIST CHAPTER START?
I’ve always loved magazines and as a child, I used to cut out and stick pictures in scrapbooks in our house in Wales on the Gower peninsula, I collaged the walls.
I kept my father’s magazine collection from the 70s and eventually started making proper artwork. I used rock varnish to make it really shiny. And then made frames in bright colours.
What’s great about this is that it feels like me. It’s what I would have said when I was 9 that I wanted to do when I grew up but I wouldn’t have been able to articulate it. Although perhaps you always have that ‘I don’t know what I want to do when I grow up’ thought in your head.
I’ve made some amazing quilts and anything I make, I make from scratch. I start with not much and make something. I always have ideas about different things. I’ve collected old bits of broken fence and I’ve just made a raised bed with different scraps of wood. I find it very satisfying.
YOUR DAUGHTER, GEORGIA IS A MODEL, WAS THAT SOMETHING YOU ENCOURAGED?
Ha thank God she wasn’t a scientist because I couldn’t have helped her much. But she went into fashion which is perfect because I can give her tips. I’m happy for her to earn her own money and to buy a house.
She’s a creative soul, dabbling in NFTs and has other things going on. On the subject of change, that generation is more likely to get things done. There is more of a sense of a call to action. I’m learning from them…they’re not as selfish. And I’m hoping that will stand them in good stead.
Portrait photography by Alex Cameron
Interview by Carolyn Asome