Vogue Polska May/June 2020. All images courtesy of Vogue Polska. Interview lightly edited for clarity
In 2007, Monica “Jac” Jagaciak entered the fashion world, a 13-year-old from western Poland ready for fun and adventure, blissfully unaware of the legendary photographers and major fashion houses with whom she would soon be working. Over a decade later—after controversy (Australian Fashion Week changed their age policy to ban models under 16 following a Jac-related press frenzy), a Chanel Beauty contract, and top model status—Jac has reemerged. Now married, she has spent the last two years on a hiatus from the industry, attending art school in Chicago and becoming a mother. In this exclusive preview of the May/June issue of Vogue Polska in which Jac appears alongside her daughter Mila, she talks to us about her coming of age and the future of fashion.
Intro text by Rosie Daly, interview by Rosie and Betty Sze for Models.com
Models.com: Where are you sheltering in place right now?
JJ: My husband and I decided to come to Europe and share our time between here and New York last December. We happened to be visiting my parents in Poland when the Covid-19 situation got serious. We have spent over a month here now.
How does it feel to be have your first solo Vogue Polska cover?
Ha. I considered my last Vogue Polska cover to be a solo one, but you are right, I wasn’t there alone, I was surrounded by some amazing dancers… Then this one isn’t a solo one either since Mila is on it too!
However, solo or not, I feel very honored to be on the cover of this issue since it’s inspired by real feelings and relationships like motherhood. I think during these difficult times we need this more than ever.
What’s been the thing you’ve missed the most in your two year break from the industry?
The people in our industry! And New York over all. I spent 2 years in Chicago and got totally disconnected from the fashion world as I was attending art school and then having a baby. I loved the new reality and I’m happy with my decision, but I was definitely missing some characters and just the fun of being on set.
Since you started so young how has your perspective on/approach to the industry changed over time?
Oh yes, and it never stops changing. At the very first I just wanted to have fun and experience something new and that was the best innocent period. I had no idea that I was working with some of the biggest names in fashion and I was just going with it. I never expected it to last this long. Later modeling became more of a job and I actually gave more thought to what I was doing and this was a blessing and a curse in one. Curse because until today I find that having expectations and a plan for this kind of job can be very confusing. Blessing because I am much more in control of my career and what I represent in public now.
You have such a long history working with the Chanel Beauty brand. Did you work with Karl Lagerfeld a lot? It’s been a year since his passing; do you have any fun stories to share about him?
It seems like a lot of people think I had a lot of contact with Karl because of my history with Chanel Beauty. Unfortunately, the beauty department isn’t much connected to the fashion department of the house, although the common part is hiring very creative people. I had a chance to work with Peter Phillips when I started my contract with Chanel and later with Lucia Pica. But yes, I did have a privilege to walk some of Karl’s shows and I just adored his charisma and sense of humor. The atmosphere in the fitting room was always a mix of fashion week stress with laughter; with Karl styling with more and more pearl jewelry. I wish I had more of a chance to get to know him better! He had an amazing presence in a room and I’m sure it’s greatly missed by everyone who was working with him regularly.
How has having a child shifted your perception of the business?
I think for everyone, having a child comes with new priorities. I love our industry but I know that I will never put my work over my family. Luckily from my experience so far everyone is super respectful and patient with me trying to figure out the whole mother role plus work. It’s great to know that agents and clients really do care a lot, are understanding and willing to help. For example, during this photoshoot for Vogue, I had my husband on set to look after Mila which was a lifesaver. I was also able to work while pregnant for Hatch x J.Crew and they took great care of me.
How did you feel about shooting with your child (and doing quite intimate shots)?
From day one, my partner and I agreed that we don’t want to overexpose Mila through our social media. I rarely share private moments with the world. I said yes to this shoot only because I was approached by a team that I trust and that I am friends with: a female stylist and a photographer who’s a mother herself. I knew that the magazine will become a wonderful memory for my daughter and our space will be respected on the set. We had a good time shooting and Mila was very patient and relaxed. She nearly fell asleep on me while I was feeding her (on the cover photo). It might be also important to add that the shoot took place before the outbreak of the epidemic.
Who of your model friends do you keep in touch with the most?
When living in New York it definitely was easier to stay friends and keep in touch with some models who I used to work with a lot. I occasionally would meet Hanne Gaby, Mirte Maas, Zuzanna Bijoch and Kasia Struss. Frida Gustavsson is still a very dear friend of mine, we remained close ever since we met.
How has the Polish fashion industry changed since you started? Can you comment on Poland getting its own Vogue just a few years ago?
It has evolved a lot! I think especially in the last few years. It became more international and launching Vogue Polska played a big part. A lot of world renowned photographers and models get to be a part of shaping this magazine and it also gives an opportunity for new talents in Poland to present their work to a bigger audience. We have Polish fashion editors watching the biggest shows and a few really cool brands that are selling internationally like MISBHV, Chylak or Magda Butrym. I hope it continues to grow.
What’s one positive thing you hope to come out of this pandemic, for the fashion industry?
I think this is a good time to rethink the amount of clothes we are making and buying. Not being able to show one collection is not the end of the world so maybe we don’t need so many per year? I also hope some brands will re-allocate the money they spend on advertising through influencers to investing into quality and/or eco friendly solutions.
Selfie courtesy of Jac
For more images and a note from Vogue Polska Editor in Chief, Filip Niedenthal, about the shoot, go to Vogue Polska’s Instagram right now.