Jade Jagger: 'I am not a trust-fund child'
Jade Jagger, the daughter of Mick and Bianca, was born into a glittering world of privilege and influence. Andy Warhol was her babysitter, the likes of Goa and St Tropez her playground. So what's eating the former wild child turned successful businesswoman, asks Julia Molony. Is leaving sun-kissed Ibiza for London giving her a case of the blues?
Published 20/03/2011 | 05:00
PERHAPS Jade Jagger is having a bad day. It's hard to tell. She's secluded in a velvet-hung ante-room in Residence private-members' club in Dublin, clutching her constantly beeping phone.
She's been flown in this morning as the celebrity host for the '3 Smartphone Soiree' in the club. Instead of a "hello", she mutters a peremptory "sorry" without lifting her head as she finishes sending a text. So we spend the first few moments of the interview without speaking, the silence only broken by the frantic little clicks of her thumb on the buttons.
She seems more a harassed executive than boho lifestyle queen -- an image on which she's built not just a brand but an empire, capitalising on her Jade Jagger-ness in everything from clothing, music to a range of shops, Jezebel.
There is, it has to be said, an awful lot to admire about Jade. Daughter of Mick and his first wife Bianca, she was born into the kind of privilege and influence that couldn't have been bettered had she been a Windsor. But she's not the sort of woman to coast on an accident of birth. Since her early 20s, she's been pushing relentlessly forward with her career as a designer.
At 24, she launched her integrated jewellery and fashion brand Jade Inc. She was creative director at Garrard jewellers by the time she turned 30, and latterly has launched Jezebel, a music and lifestyle label. She's also started designing homes. This year she is working on a tower of luxury residences in Mumbai.
This sort of ambition, she says, is fuelled less by a desire to distinguish her own achievements from those of her family, than it is by the responsibilities of parenthood. She got pregnant very young by today's standards, having her first daughter, Assisi, with ex-partner Piers Jackson when she was 19 and the second child, Amba, four years later.
"I'm not a trust-fund child," she says flatly. "I think that my father's got a healthy work ethic, and therefore, I think that it just came with the part, you've got to look after yourself. And it probably came more so from having kids. And wanting to support them, and look after them and give them the best I could."
So. She's not some heiress who fiddles around with precious gems as a sort of hobby. That much is clear. There's a strongly pragmatic side to her and she has shrewd commercial instincts.
"I mean, you know, I had to support my family -- and so I had to become commercial," she says of the directions she has moved the brand. "In some ways, I guess, I wonder if I should sort of, you know, rewind the amount that I do commercially... I probably shouldn't be saying that," she says, remembering where she is and why she's here today.
Jagger turns 40 later this year. Too strong-featured to
'I think that my father's got a healthy work ethic, and therefore, I think that it just came with the part, you've got to look after yourself. And it probably came more from having kids'
have been an ingenue when she was very young, this age suits her. Her beauty, now softened slightly, is compelling and her skin is a lovely honey colour. "I'm not really into Botox or anything like that," she says, on the importance of growing old gracefully.
It occurs to me that this could potentially be a very satisfying phase for someone such as her. She's proved her talent through the various facets of her career. Her children, now well into their teens, are becoming increasingly self-sufficient. For someone such as Jade, with her wild-child streak and love of hanging around in Ibiza and Goa I wonder if this frees her up for a whole new second youth?
"Yeah, it gives one a lot of time. And one starts to question what your role in life is when you've dedicated so much time to your children and your family and the commitments that that brings. But I think I'm slowly adapting and I see that they still need you and you still need to be there, it's just a different type of less time-consuming role.
"It's quite strange, especially because I sort of broke out of the norm. A lot of my friends are having kids now."
If she's smug about having got the mummying phase out of the way, while she still looks great and has enough energy to enjoy what comes after, she doesn't admit to it.
"There's some part of me that feels I want to be in line with everybody else and start again, but I sort of feel I should be open-minded and look into the next years with a different mind," she says, rattling off even this, rather reflective, statement with a touch of impatience.
Just over two years ago, she moved her girls and her family from their hillside idyll in Ibiza, where the girls went to an English school, and transported them to a chic west-London suburb. The move, she says, was driven by the children, as she doesn't love London by any means. ("I've been living in the countryside most of my adult life and I've been trying to get back there.") Instead, she sees it as a necessary compromise for her daughters.
"I didn't want them to become isolated and only know the opinion of one small island, which is crazy two months of the year and incredibly quiet for the other 10 months -- and obviously culturally a little bit bereft.
"My girls are, sort of, nearly grown up... They'd been in the same school for 10 years, in very small classes, which was great and what every parent seems to want. From a parent's perspective, being surrounded by the same eight or 10 people for a decade I think becomes a bit much. My eldest, she's studying homeopathy, and she's very culturally interested. She's really getting the most out of being in a city and I love to see that, and you know, she still lives close by."
Does she think that by moving away from London when they were young, she spared them some of the complications of public exposure that she grew up with?
"That wasn't the intention of it, but I think yes, it was great to be in a small village where you feel safe and you feel like you've people around you who you can trust, and you can leave your house unlocked and your car unlocked. I didn't specifically go there because I wanted to bring them out of the limelight -- but I guess that by being up a hill and by being really quiet it was great and to teach them a little bit more salt-of-the-earth-type values."
Coming back to London, she's plugged more firmly into the network of extended family. There's her dad Mick -- plus his sprawling brood of children by various supermodel women. This brood includes the increasingly famous Elizabeth, Georgia May, James and Gabriel -- children of Jerry Hall. From the outside, I say they seem as a family to be remarkably functional, considering how complicated it all is. After all, Jade's mother Bianca filed for divorce from Mick on grounds of adultery with Jerry Hall, saying at the time "my marriage ended on my wedding day".
"I think we are actually remarkably functional," Jade says. "My dad's incredibly down-to-earth. And you know, he kind of has a way to manage it. I think when you have a very large family, the only way to deal with it is with some sense of definition. We all get together a lot and I think it's great. I think it's a high priority for my dad, keeping his quite large family together."
That must take considerable skill. Since there's an awful lot of big personalities involved. "Yeah, yeah. They're getting bigger and bigger. Each generation keeps coming up. The next top model and the next grandchild."
Do they all hang out together on Sundays? "I think we manage to all get together only a couple of times a year. Obviously I have my own obligations and we all have micro families, and my siblings are growing up, and starting to also create their own families. I think it's a time where everyone is sort of growing into their person, their independent personalities."
Jade was mostly brought up as an only child and she admits that it shows. "I don't play that well with others," she says, with a petulant little smile. "I love the family -- the caravan as I call it. I certainly didn't want to have another only child for myself. I think it's had some sort of effect on me. I think it's nice to feel that sense of belonging to a family and having somebody who is sharing the experience with you."
Her own childhood was bonkers by most standards. Growing up at a time when her parents were deeply involved in the whole Studio 54 phenomenon, she moved around all the time, and was famously babysat by Andy Warhol.
"I have wanted to create constancy, but I think that sometimes I still...". She breaks off from talking to tap out another message on her phone. ("Sorry, various businesses are buzzing me.")
"I think the formative years that they [my children] had in Ibiza gave them that," she goes on, picking up the thread. "And I know that they go back to that house there and they feel some sense of constancy. And partially just being close with them has created that. I love to cook with them and I love to have that family time, I think that that's important. And I think that having that gives them that sense of security to be quite independent."
She laughs when I ask about her long-term partner, DJ Dan Williams, accidently referring to him as Dave.
"We have a mannequin in Ibiza that we call Dave which is what made me laugh." Anyway, they are not together anymore, she says, bluntly. Ooh. Is she single? For some reason, that would strike me as being quite fabulous, to be embracing this phase with a prospect of a fresh new romance. But she's not to be drawn on it. "I'd rather keep my relationship to myself."
There are moments when she drops the brusque patter and it's possible to imagine that, under different circumstances, she's probably pretty good fun. Her tight smile is a brisk brush-off, but her eyes show occasional flashes of genuine mirth.
But there is precious little of it on show today. Long after the interview has ended, I realise I've forgotten my scarf and return quickly to Residence. The Dublin PR team are all sitting around together tucking into a sociable-looking big lunch. Meanwhile, Jade is sitting in silence with her UK manager, picking sulkily at a salad, in an altogether less friendly (and, by the looks of it, less fun) corner of the room.
Jade Jagger hosted the '3 Smartphone Soiree' in Residence private members' club at which 3 unveiled details of their new 'All You Can Eat' data plans which provides smartphone users with free internet usage. See Three.ie for more details or visit a 3Store
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