Jourdan Dunn Talks Tattoos, Celeb BFFs and Past Lives

We catch up with the top model as she promotes her latest project: a tattoo-inspired smartphone she helped design

Jourdan Dunn gets a lot of ink, whether it’s for her modelling career (Victoria’s Secret runway shows, contracts with Burberry and Maybelline, the cover of British Vogue), her work with the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America (son Riley, five, has sickle cell anemia), her many other projects (her YouTube cooking show, a children’s clothing line) or her posse of celebrity friends (Cara Delevingne, Taylor Swift, Karlie Kloss, Kendall Jenner…). She also gets a lot of ink on her body—eight tattoos and counting—so her latest endeavour makes sense: the 24-year-old Londoner has teamed up with tattoo artist Cally-Jo Pothecary to create a body art–inspired engraving for the limited-edition HTC One M9 INK smartphone (psst: if you happen to be at NXNE in Toronto tomorrow, HTC is giving away temporary transfers of the design). We chatted to Dunn about the meaning behind the artwork, her own body art (including the tattoo she doesn’t want her mom to know about) and her famous besties’ texting habits.


Dunn’s latest project: designing a body art–inspired smartphone, the HTC One M9 INK (Photo: HTC INK)

You’ve branched out from modelling into a lot of different creative projects. Tell us about this latest one, designing the HTC One M9 INK handset. 
I love my phone and I love body art, so I thought it would be a really cool thing to get behind. There was a moment where I was like, “Aaahhh, I don’t know what I could do,” but then I got inspiration from my own tattoos, which are all very meaningful to me. I thought, why not design something that I would actually have on my skin? And I came up with the Hamsa hand [pictured above]. People from all around the world, religious or not, can identify with it, because it represents love and protection and growth and happiness and luck. I thought it would be a nice positive thing to carry around with you every day.

Can you tell us about your body art? I love the Egyptian goddess on your back. 
I’ve always felt kind of connected to ancient Egypt. I’m very spiritual and I like to go to psychics and I’ve been told several times that I’m connected [to Egypt] in my past life. I was like, oh god, that makes sense. I particularly love the goddess Isis and what she represents, motherhood and love, and I was like, I want to get that down because it’s something that I represent. That one’s my favourite, and then also the one on my inner arm that says “You owe it to yourself, set the world on fire”—that was a quote from my first i-D cover. It’s what it sounds like: just go through it and don’t hold yourself back. My first tattoo was my “Riley” tattoo on my wrist; I was really stuck on what I should get and I was like, well, duh, I should get my son’s name. I have eight tattoos, and I remember when Cara didn’t have any and now she’s gone past me, so I’m definitely going to get more real soon! Cally-Jo is actually going to do the design from the HTC phone on me—maybe on the inside of my wrist or my elbow.


(Photo: HTC INK)

You and Cara have matching “DD” tattoos; if you got matching tattoos with someone else, who would it be?
I actually do have another matching tattoo with my best friend Sigail Currie, she’s another model… I’ve been obsessed with Pocahontas since I was little, and I love the tat on her arm, so I got that band around my finger, and Sigail has that as well.

Any secret tattoos? 
There’s one that my mom doesn’t know about, even though it’s in a quite obvious place. She probably has seen it but doesn’t know what it stands for!

Be honest: how much time do you spend on your phone per day?  
I feel like I’m always on my phone, but it has to be in the right moment. It’s so annoying that everyone is always on their phone these days, even around loved ones. My son has called me out on it, so I make sure when I’m with him I’m not on my phone looking at emails or Instagram or anything; I spend that time with him.

Are you a talker or a texter?
A texter! I don’t like talking in general.

Which of your famous friends is best at texting back: Karlie, Cara, Taylor…?
We’re all pretty bad! I feel like it’s a Leo thing, Karlie and Cara and I are all Leos. I could text them and they take two days to reply or vice-versa.

What’s your favourite emoji?
My favourite one is the straight face.

If you were ever to design your own emoji, what would it be? 
Definitely a middle finger!

Have you ever butt-dialled someone?
Yeah, I’ve sent something to the wrong person and that got me in a tricky situation, but I won’t say more! I think that happens to all of us.

Finally, can we hit you up for your No. 1 beauty tip? 
Take the time to take off your makeup! If you can take 30 minutes or an hour to put all that makeup on, it’s important you also take the time to remove it.

The Chicest Celebrity Piercings You Didn’t Know You Wanted
Jourdan Dunn: “The Girl Who Couldn’t Keep Her Mouth Shut”
Karlie Kloss on Kookies, Harvard and That Angel Life