I should do naked pictures before I have children: Elizabeth Jagger
Published 14/05/2010 | 08:59
Elizabeth Jagger is showing me how to get out of a car like a lady. Knees pressed tightly together, she swivels her narrow hips 90 degrees, and pushes herself gracefully upright.
"My mother taught me to do that. She's forever tutting at pictures of girls showing their knickers in the papers and muttering 'she needs to go to etiquette school!'" A second piece of advice Jerry Hall gave her 26-year-old model daughter was rather less complex: "Be nice," she said, "and don't show your bum."
You wouldn't assume Lizzie Jagger to be the eldest of Sir Mick and Jerry's four children (her brother James is 24, her sister Georgia, 18, and the youngest, Gabriel, 12). Her limbs are coltish, her skin possesses the poreless, slightly damp quality of a teenager, and she giggles throughout the interview – sometimes out of a natural gaiety, but more often out of a desire, I suspect, to deflate the impact of something she's just said.
With the dark curls that cascade right down to her lower back and those Rolling Stone lips, Jagger looks as though she should be standing naked in a giant seashell, not sitting in the boardroom of a Soho modeling agency.
The Jagger girls aren't averse to a little nakedness. In 2004, photographs of Lizzie striding down a catwalk in a see-through dress were famously said to have upset her father. Then last year, a picture of Georgia May covering her breasts with one arm had the tabloids speculating that a similar schism had occurred. "Actually dad was fine with it when I started modelling," Jagger shrugs. "I was 20, and I'd already done pictures with my breasts out."
As a product of the fraught 20-year relationship between Texan model, Hall, and the Rolling Stones front man, Jagger's childhood was never going to be ordinary. As a baby, Sir Mick would sing her lullabies "which he would make up himself, most of the time. Either that or sing me Summertime, which I loved."
And when she first brought boyfriends home? "He would do that look – the dad look," she snarls and then laughs, "but nothing too bad. Luckily most of my boyfriends were quite cool with the whole thing. I would have hated to go out with anyone who was, like, 'Oh wow, there's your father'."
That was something her one-time boyfriend, Julian Lennon, was unlikely to do.
"I would normally avoid musicians though," she assures me, "and actors."
After her parents divorced in 1999, Jagger remained close to her father, with whom she still likes to go on "adventure holiday" whenever she can.
It was sitting on Hall's lap at a Chanel show, aged four, that Jagger decided to follow in her mother's footsteps. "I was blown away by it all. After that, I would go through mum's cupboards, and it was like having the best kids dress-up box ever." At 13, while shopping in Dolce and Gabbana, she was discovered, but it was only once back at the agency, when the schoolgirl pointed out a picture of Hall in a magazine and said ''that's my mother", that the scout realised who she had signed up.
Pretty soon, everyone knew who Lizzie Jagger was. "There were posters of me everywhere, so I don't know what else I could expect, but I did start to realise that my life wasn't like other people's." For a brief period, Jagger wondered whether she should shrug off her famous parentage and abscond, "but it was too late: I'd already done it. So I had to just carry on and try not to overexpose myself."
This meant moving, aged 16, from the family home in Richmond to the anonymity of New York ("there are no paparazzi there and none of that stalking on the street"). It also meant turning down a lucrative offer to pose nude for Playboy. "I wasn't willing to do fully naked pictures."
Isn't Playboy only partially naked?
"You have to show your breasts and the top half of your bottom," she says, with the pragmatism of someone describing sandwich fillings. "I didn't have a problem with topless, and now, at 26, I'm thinking I should do naked pictures before I have children." She giggles again. "Still, if it's quite sexual… You do have to have boundaries."
As a young model, Lizzie remembers those boundaries being crossed – on one occasion in particular. "When I was 15 I was followed into the bathroom at a photo-shoot by this photographer who took pictures of me in see-through underwear. It should be completely illegal to show a girl in see-through underwear when she is below the age of consent. I do believe that if models look like children, then they shouldn't be sexualised."
There is nothing childlike about the model's shape today, although her natural slenderness does lend a certain androgyny that must be well received in the fashion world. "Actually I lose jobs all the time because I'm too skinny," she counters. "I'm on my BMI, but I still get ---- for being thin. People tell me that I should eat more but they don't know me: I eat a lot. It's pretty unpleasant that people assume every model is anorexic and bulimic. People have looked at me funny when I go to the loo at a photo-shoot, but actually the only anorexic girls I've come across have been the very young ones doing the shows for the first time."
In the eight years she has over Georgia, she has learned a lot that she has been able to hand down to her younger sibling. She takes religious care of her own fair skin, and is fronting a campaign against skin cancer for Superdrug ("I had sun damage for a few years after doing the mad olive oil thing that all young girls do, and it taught me a thing or two. It's always worth covering up and embracing the English rose look.").
There have been some perils, however, that she has been unable to protect her little sister from. In January, the 18-year-old was pictured taking delivery of a mystery package outside a pub. Much talk about the new "hellraising" member of the Jagger brood ensued. "They really went after her," laments her sister. "It was outside her local pub on her birthday – but it was a learning experience and she's grown from it."
For years, she adds, the girls have been "figuring stuff out" for themselves. "At no point did we all sit down and talk about what would happen if we behaved in such and such a way… I guess it was assumed that we knew what was coming." The two sisters are far enough apart in years to be "really good friends", she says, and Jagger is looking forward to Georgia joining her in New York, where the pair are to move into a huge studio apartment in the East Village.
London, Jagger maintains, has become known as such a party town that her New York friends are often scared to visit. "They'll say 'oh God – am I going to be hospitalised by the time I go home?'"
Is the drugs scene exaggerated by the press, who are fond of suggesting that cocaine is no different to a glass of wine to young people these days?
"No," she shakes her head. "I don't think it is that much of an exaggeration. People really don't take cocaine seriously, and then there's ketamine, which is the new cocaine.
"There was a time in London, in the late 1990s through to the early 2000s, when it felt like drugs were everywhere and that everyone was partying, but I feel like maybe people have chilled out now." You don't come across drugs as much in New York, she insists, "but when I go to see bands play here, I still notice that everyone's eyes look a bit funny – it's the Camden set, you know…"
Back home in New York, Jagger likes to "balance modelling with the creative" and is exhibiting her art work ("giant installations you can crawl into") for the first time in September. Acting – something she had gone out to LA to try a few years ago – has been shelved. "I thought that the fashion world could be a bit fake sometimes, but it's nothing compared to Hollywood," she explains. "These girls would walk over their grandmothers' graves to get a part, and the producers talk about actresses like they're dirt, picking over every part of them so that they end up paranoid and having surgery."
Right now, Jagger is looking forward to a music festival-filled summer in the UK. "Tomorrow I'm going to see my brother's band, Turbogeist, play," she chirps. "Oh! Do you think you might be able to plug it in the piece?" The request is rather sweet, considering her heritage.
"You can! Fantastic!" Clapping her hands, she lets out another trademark giggle.
Lizzie Jagger is the face of Superdrug's campaign to educate on the dangers of skin cancer and to raise money for CRUK.