In my years in fashion, I have often been asked how I got started. My path swas fairly uncommon compared with the routes taken by other editors. After starting out in engineering school, I did a stint in computer graphics, but I have known since I was a child that I wanted to work in fashion. Through a number of fateful meetings, I made that happen. I found my calling by styling editorials for international editions of Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, and Marie Claire before taking over as the fashion director at Chicago when Stacy Wallace-Albert, the magazine’s previous editor in that position, decided to pursue other interests.
Now I realize how rewarding it is that I am doing what I always hoped to do. I travel the world, work with beautiful clothes, and meet accomplished people. Not long ago, I flew to Shanghai, China, which is fast becoming a fashion mecca, to visit my brother, J. T., the global commercial manager for the chemical company Celanese, and his family. When my young nephews told me that they prefer to choose their own clothes, I remembered that I insisted on exactly the same thing when I was their age. And while I was shopping in Shanghai, with its over-the-top modernist architecture as a backdrop, I was reminded of the gorgeous clothes that I had viewed at the fall and winter 2008 runway shows—and the choices that I made about what to share with the readers of Chicago Fashion.
Jones in Shanghai with three of her nephews, the triplets (from left) Patrick, Ethan, and Aiden
The clothes were rich in detail, structure, color, and fabric—as if the designers had taken a trip to a time and a place of reinvention. In our feature Thrills & Frills, we focus on that feeling of fantasy dressing. At the opposite end of the spectrum, minimalism reigned, with streamlined silhouettes, monochromatic looks, and little or no embellishment. Our feature High Drama captures that elegant starkness beautifully. A sixties movie-star look was another trend that emerged—a style that we put on display in Perfect Finish. These are not the ladylike looks of seasons past, but rather the stylized bouffants, bold eyes, and polished dresses and suits that evoke the here’s-to-you élan of Jackie O and Mrs. Robinson.
The season’s spectacular clothes were reason enough to convince me that I belong in fashion, even though to get where I wanted to go, I took a path less traveled. Perhaps one day my nephews, who are already showing potential as future fashionistas, will follow my lead. They just need to find their own ways to make that happen.
Photograph: (Jones) Tom Corbett