Balenciaga Was Just the Beginning for Model Jane Moseley
The artist-turned-model talks tattoos, horror movies, and the runway gig that changed everything.
If it were up to Jane Moseley, she’d live in a little house with her fiancé and their dog, five cats, lizard, hedgehog, and two rats.
“My goals are pretty meager at this point,” she says. “So anything that facilitates that, I’m game for.” Right now, modeling is the big facilitator. Moseley made her runway debut in an exclusive for Balenciaga’s Fall 2016 show at Paris Fashion Week, and then set off on a month of travels — though for what jobs, she couldn’t say. In early April, she had just returned from Spain.
Recalling the Balenciaga show, Moseley says she could feel the air of excitement. Of course, she wasn’t the only newcomer on the runway — the show also doubled as the premiere for the label’s new designer Demna Gvesalia, the mastermind behind Vetements.
But growing up in Los Angeles with an actor father and a model mother, Moseley was never too far from the fashion world. She first signed with an agency at 14, though she professes she “wasn’t working that much,” just the occasional job as far as her schoolwork permitted.
“My mom was always very hesitant to put that first,” Moseley says. In contrast, her parents always supported her art-making, which began as a hobby (“it was just something I always did”) and became increasingly serious toward the end of high school. She attended Bard College in upstate New York, graduating in 2009, then moved to the big city to try and cut it as an artist, joining a Brooklyn-based young artists’ collective called Still House. (She always made her rent, she asserts, and paid her bills on time.)
Yet, of late, engaged and with an entire menagerie to care for, Moseley says she realized it might be time to start funneling away some money. “Shit’s going to hit the fan in like 50 years,” she says. “I just want to, like, make sure I’m secure and happy and the people that I care about are secure and happy.” Modeling could provide a consistent, lucrative gig, and friends had encouraged her to go for it throughout much of her adult life. It was more of a utilitarian decision than anything, she says. The art was, and remains, the focus.
A perusal of her Tumblr page gives an overview of her work — paintings and sculptures that unite the mundane and the macabre and recall Lucien Freud or the psycho-horror of Edvard Munch. The Tumblr is her “half-assed way of having a website,” she explains, without having to put the effort into making it organized and accessible. There’s an image of a woman wearing a nun’s wimple — nude, nipples dotted in cherry red, with fangs. Another of a girl with elfin ears, demonic red eyes, and a wolfish set of teeth bared. She’s slicing a knife across her forearm.
“I’m a lot less squeamish because I grew up watching horror movies,” Moseley says. She and her father, horror actor Bill Moseley, watched everything from vintage anime to Roman Polanski, Lawrence of Arabia, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. “Being exposed to a lot, it sort of helped me to see — like, to define — characteristics in art that I liked,” she adds. When asked who has influenced her, she starts out tentatively, throwing out a few names — “I love, like, Munch, and Goya.” Someone once told her that her paintings look like Peter Doig, and the memory seems to set her off: Otto Dix, Dorthea Tanning, Rodin, Henry Moore, Max Ernst. The gargoyles at Notre Dame. Early Renaissance landscapes when the painters were still figuring out perspective.
“I love escapism. So for me, those paintings sort of bring you into another world,” she says, “and also maybe there’s some psychological shit happening with that, and that’s always fun, too.”
Her Instagram handle is @oodlesofpain, which seems to say it all: a little cute, a little grotesque. It’s filled with images culled from real life — Moseley licking a hamburger — and the surreal life — Moseley in a recent shoot, her arms, normally dotted with tattoos, airbrushed clean. That one’s captioned: “me as a girl w virginal unadorned flesh… #airbrushed.” But she’s not precious about her tattoos. She doesn’t have a favorite but there is one that’s “by far the most hardcore” — a vivid image of Motoko Kusanagi, a character from the anime series Ghost in the Shell.
“When modeling is for sure a wrap, I’m going to just go nuts,” she said of future tattoos. “It’s like letting myself go. I’m going to be married, I’m going to not give a fuck, I’m just going to have fun with it.” But for now, improbable as she still may find it, the modeling thing is working.
“I like fashion,” she emphasizes — she just never envisioned becoming involved to quite the extent she has. Nor has she negotiated how she will balance art and modeling. “I’m a slow person when it comes to making art,” she explains. “I’ll, like, know what I’m doing and go for it and get it out, and, like, in a matter of a couple months, I’ll kind of need to fall back and just like gestate for a while, I guess — until I feel crazy again and then I hit the drawing board. ”
In the whirlwind since the Balenciaga show, Moseley hasn’t had a spare moment to spend in her studio. For now, the quiet house with her fiancé and their pets might have to wait.
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