During a time of lockdown and self-isolation, Constance Jablonski seizes the moment to reset and reevaluate her life along with her own fashion know-how. Pulling all her industry hacks to the fore, going behind and in front of the lens, styling and photographing her own cover shoot.
Light streams in through the expansive windows of a New York City apartment, casting shadows over the exquisite face of Constance Jablonski. Her features – wide-set piercing blue eyes, a sculpted jawline, and tousled blonde hair – are a swift reminder of her status as one of the world’s most successful and versatile models. “For me, it’s always about lighting,” she says in a soft French accent while art directing her shoot. “The corner sofa near my big window has the best daylight in my apartment. I love windows and seeing the elements – rain or sunshine. It’s an opening to the outside world.”
Born in Lille, France, Jablonski was an athletic adolescent with plans to play competitive tennis; breaking into the modeling industry was not on the agenda until she entered a French Elite Model Look Contest in 2006, and her trajectory took a monumental turn. At 17, she signed with her first agency, moved to New York, and began walking for every major designer (while also fronting their campaigns); appearing on the covers of Vogue, Vanity Fair, W, Interview, and i-D; taking a coveted spot in the Victoria’s Secret show and securing a lucrative contract with Estée Lauder. “I’ve had so many career highlights,” she says, “and shooting with incredible photographers such as Steven Meisel, Peter Lindbergh, Craig McDean, Mario Sorrenti… I will be forever grateful.”
Today, Jablonski is behind the camera – or rather, her boyfriend is: BMX flatland rider and burgeoning film photographer Matthias Dandois. Dressed in Hellessy – her perfect combination of chic and loungewear – Jablonski radiates a kind of clean living, meditative state, all pure “green” energy, and methodical habits.
“An average day for me starts around 8am,” she says. “I walk my dog Ariana. I often take advantage of the midday dog walk to go for a run with her–she has a lot of energy! I usually have breakfast while answering emails and then study my online nutrition classes or work on personal modeling projects. I always take a break to play some piano as I find it meditative and fantastic exercise for the brain. And I love playing cards with Matthias at sunset; it gives us a sweet vacation feeling.”
Talking about her routine, Jablonski lights up as she connects the thread between her “normal” forever-on-the-go model life with her current slowed-down existence. “I don’t remember the last time I got to stay in my own apartment for this many days in a row,” she considers. “Waking up every day at the same hour is a blessing – no more jet lag. And I’ve learned the true meaning of compassion and altruism. Weirdly, we have never been so far from our friends and relatives and yet, so close to them… I hope that human contact won’t become an issue in the future because we can’t live without it.”
Ariana, a spirited mini beagle mix with her own Instagram account (the aptly named @arianatherocket), is a frequent guest on Jablonski’s social media, joining the model for naps on the sofa, living room dance sessions, and yoga workouts. A rescue dog, Ariana is just one example of Jablonski’s philanthropic efforts. The model is also an active fundraiser and supporter of Urban Dove, a charter school with outlets in Brooklyn and the South Bronx whose mission is to provide young people with the critical skills needed to develop into financially independent and emotionally successful adults.
“Covid-19 has taught me the true value of things; what’s essential and what’s not. I’m so happy to see nature is breathing again, pollution has dropped dramatically, and skies are more blue than ever before. We’ve seen crazy images of wildlife coming into empty cities – that’s quite magical,” she says.
A swift scroll through Jablonski’s social media, which features a video of Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg discussing #ClimateStrike, images of icebergs melting and fires blazing through the Amazon rainforest, and a link to educational documentary Cowspiracy, confirm her environmental stance. She is hopeful for a more sustainable future, especially for the fashion industry. “I think Covid-19 will reshape the way we are consuming. We won’t want to own so many unnecessary things but only items that bring us real joy. I think we will travel less; maybe clients will hire models locally, which is a great thing for the environment. Perhaps brands and magazines will do more digital projects, too, and let models create their own shoots.”
Changing into a knotted Elvis-print T-shirt, slim-cut jeans, and a metal chain-link necklace, Jablonski scrapes her hair back between her fingers, staring down the lens as the cover shoot draws to a close. “In every crisis there is a wake-up call,” she says. “I’m a true believer that humans can reinvent themselves. We will all strive to do the best we can to recover from this together.”
Originally published in the May 2020 issue of Vogue Arabia