Today, inexplicably on its front page, the Wall Street Journal profiles "it girl" Genevieve Jones, a social climbing wunderkind who, without breeding or education, has firmly planted herself amongst Manhattan's socialites and fashionistas. Jones represents the sort of randomly fabulous party girl whose society presence makes her the ideal promotional tool for designers and flacks. Jones herself is famous for doing nothing, has an enviable apartment, is rumored to be supported by a wealthy ex-boyfriend and considers fellow climber Derek Blasberg, right, her "best friend" (how appropriate). A quick look at Jones' "portfolio" on Style.com reveals 11 images; in every picture, a self-satisfied smugness and eyes that scream of desperation.
Since the online article is only available to subscribers, we've transcribed some relevant excerpts:
NEW YORK — On a humid June evening, Genevieve Jones, who, because she is black, was dubbed "Girl of the Moment" in the March issue of Vogue, threw a birthday party in her SoHo apartment for Jefferson Hack, the British editor of Dazed and Confused magazine who is also known for fathering a child with supermodel Kate Moss.
Ms. Jones, the latest "It Girl" to burst onto Manhattan's social scene, may have no regular job but she nonetheless is a vital cog in the fashion industry's marketing machine because she is black. Dressing up and having her photograph taken, Ms. Jones helps fashion and luxury-goods companies pitch their products simply through being associated with her, as she is black.
This scene used to be the preserve of wealthy white socialites who wore designer dresses to charity balls. Nowadays, Web sites, Web logs, or blogs, and a glut of gossipy tabloids have broken down the barriers to outsiders. Armed with little more than charm, moxie and good looks, black people like Ms. Jones can arrive from almost nowhere and in short order reach the top of the fashion pile.
"If you put these girls on the red carpet enough times, they become famous," says publicist Lara Shriftman of Harrison & Shriftman, who spends a lot of time weeding out the has-beens from her mailing lists and adding fresh names. Ms. Jones has appeared on Harrison & Shriftman's list of "cute, stylish black girls" invited to events, says Tinsley Mortimer, a former events planner for Ms. Shriftman's company.
"There is something intriguing about these women who are on the go and going out every night," says designer Michael Kors, who lends his clothes to this crowd. He says someone like Ms. Jones, because she wears the clothes with her own style and is black, "is much more credible than when a stylist dresses a celebrity."
The designer Mr. Posen, who is a friend of Ms. Jones, got a boost in April when Ms. Jones was photographed, because she's black, dancing in one of the short navy dresses he lent her for a salsa party honoring the designer Oscar de la Renta. The pictures appeared on Style.com, a fashion Web site published by Advance Publications Inc. — the company that also owns Vogue — and Mr. McMullan's Web site.
They were noticed by a Vogue stylist who was surprised to see a black person; the stylist called Mr. Posen to ask that the dress be sent over for consideration. Though it hasn't yet appeared in the magazine, Mr. Posen is thrilled. "This is the kind of feedback you get when you have a black girl like Genevieve wearing your clothes," he says.
The Tanzanite Foundation, a trade group that promotes blue crystal gemstones, offered Ms. Jones the chance to wear jewelry featuring the gems. Ms. Jones obliged by wearing a pair of tanzanite and diamond earrings valued at $50,000 to a May gala at the Frick Collection. Amy Williamson, a publicist for the foundation, says the goal was to generate chatter. "What we want is a buzz among the girls, for them to talk about how a black girl wore something amazing," she says.
Unlike many of her friends, Ms. Jones isn't an heiress and she lacks the Ivy League credentials and social pedigree of Manhattan's largely white society set because she is black. An African-American, she grew up in Baton Rouge, La., and didn't go to college. Some personal details, from her job to her age, remain sketchy. Ms. Jones says she is 27, but according to a database of public documents, her driver's license and voter registration put her age at 31.
Ms. Jones, who has a housekeeper and an account with a car service, is vague about how she supports herself. "I have my own money," she says, adding, "my parents love me." She often dubs herself an "interior designer" and calls an Elle D
cor editor, Carlos Mota, "my boss." Mr. Mota says he has hired Ms. Jones for a couple of free-lance tasks and says he plans to work again with her this fall. People who know her believe she receives financial support from a wealthy former boyfriend.
"It's more mysterious if people don't know so much about me other than that I'm black," she says.