The recent news of Newmarket’s highly anticipated Westfield redevelopment revealed the announcement of David Jones as an anchor tenant, solidifying Newmarket’s position as a world class retail destination. International model and David Jones’ Ambassador, Jessica Gomes, flew into Auckland to promote the arrival of the luxury department store and feature in a photoshoot on-site at the development. Zara Overton spoke with Gomes while she was in Newmarket…
N. Welcome to Auckland! We’re so excited you’re here to mark the incredible new Westfield Development.
Thank you! We’re so excited to be bringing David Jones to Auckland at the new Westfield Newmarket next year.
N. Can you tell me how you first got into modelling?
I started modelling when I was 10 years old. I’m originally from Perth, Australia and my mum enrolled me in modelling and deportment classes, so it sort of just transpired from there. I started doing local TV commercials and fashion parades and really loved it. I hated school, so for me it was great to meet other kids outside of school. I learnt how to put on my make-up, do my nails, walk the runway and also how to take photos. It actually started off as a hobby, then things just kept rolling and then I signed with a bigger agency and that took me internationally. From there, I left school at 17 and started working in Asia, then went to New York and got signed by IMG. It was when I was about 19 that I realised that modelling could become my career and decided I would take it seriously, and that’s really how I got the ball rolling.
N. Where are you currently based?
I’m currently based in Los Angeles. I was in New York for 6 years and I’ve been in LA now for 6.
N. And do you go back to Australia often?
I do now – David Jones obviously brings me back. I’ve been with the brand for five years, it’s my sixth year now, so I come back every second month which is nice.
N. You were appointed as the David Jones ambassador in 2013, taking on this role from Miranda Kerr. What does it mean to you to be the DJ ambassador?
It’s amazing. David Jones is an iconic brand in Australia and it’s a brand that I grew up with in my family. My mum and I used to go to the Boxing Day sales. It was always that place to go to that was luxurious and you could get a really amazing shopping experience and go to the food court and get chocolate covered strawberries. Those little things have always been a nostalgic memory for me with David Jones! I know that it’s a really big position to secure in the Australian market and it can make you a household name. Before David Jones, I wasn’t booking much work in Australia, as I was working more overseas in the US doing Sports Illustrated, so it was a big surprise to me when I got the job. They were pretty big shoes to fill, taking over from Miranda – she’s an exceptional model and so it was a big coup for me. It meant a lot, and it still does. It’s an amazing role to have, and at the age of 33 I’m very happy that I get to have this longevity and I’m still working in the industry!
N. So how did it come about that you came to work for the brand?
I had always done the DJ shows before, even when Megan Gale was their ambassador. In fact, I was the youth ambassador one season with her. I was starting to come back for certain DJs events, such as the races and I would go to all of their fashion shows. I also walked with Miranda when she was the face of the brand and was their international guest model in the show. It really was the right place, right time. DJs were ready to go with someone new, and I was there and was already familiar with the brand, having had already worked for them in the past.
N. Kiwi designer Kate Sylvester has recently been added to the David Jones stable, what are some of your favourite NZ brands?
I love Kate Sylvester! I love Karen Walker, Deadly Ponies and Trelise Cooper. I love all the NZ brands – I think they’re really quirky and fun. There’s a really unique sense of style here and I love that they’re all into story telling. It’s very enchanting and magical – I think this place might breed enchanting story tellers. I love Hunt for the Wilderpeople. I love the NZ sensibility, and I think that really comes through with a lot of NZ designers. I mean Karen is such an amazing woman, I got to spend some time with her at Vogue Fashion’s Night Out and she is so talented with such a unique style.
N. You were in Australia recently for the launch of the highly anticipated David Jones Autumn/Winter collections launch. What are some of the top trends that we can expect this season?
Power suiting is really on trend this season. A lot of tailored blazers. The whole tuxedo vibe, which I think is great because I like to feel empowered when I’m going into a business meeting or I’ve got an interview, or have a photoshoot. It’s a great uniform to have, for any woman that’s busy and has a corporate, (but also fun and exciting), lifestyle. So power suiting is a huge one. Kate Sylvester does a great black tuxedo, which I wore to the model castings.
Another one is winter florals. Really beautiful floral prints with dark tones of burgundy, navy, black. High end luxe, versatile lounge pieces are really on trend as well, like cashmere. Really nice knits and comfortable pants and obviously layering is huge for winter and autumn. There are also lots of jewel tones and pops of bright colours coming through. What’s great about David Jones is that there is really a mix of everything and there is something for everyone. If you’re looking for an accessory, or a great tailored blazer, a coat, dress, or pair of knee high boots, an amazing bag – you really can get it in David Jones.
N. Your role as ambassador for David Jones must come with a lot of event commitments – will we see more of you in New Zealand once the store opens?
It does. I hope so, I would love to come back. We’re going to be launching the store at the end of next year so I hope to be back for that. But I really enjoy coming here and would love to do more shoots here. I shot for Elle Magazine here last time, and we stayed at this beautiful lodge (Wharekauhau Lodge) outside of Wellington which is just beautiful. I would love to come back here for a holiday. I absolutely adore New Zealand. The people are so nice and beautiful!
N. What can New Zealand shoppers look forward to the most with the arrival of David Jones to Newmarket?
They can expect to see a really incredible shopping experience. David Jones puts on an exceptional shopping experience, all the best designers, with exclusive international, as well as local designers and we will definitely be providing that here in Auckland, including a personal shopping suite, a styling suite and a really high-end array of luxe beauty, accessories and fashion. All the best of what David Jones has to offer is now going to be available at Westfield Newmarket. I think this is so exciting for people who live in Auckland. I’ve seen some of the plans for the centre and it’s going to be on par with some of the best in the world so it’s the perfect place for David Jones here in Auckland.
N. Favourite wardrobe item?
A pair of Trelise Cooper jeans that have pearls on the side of them. Also, my Camilla & Marc blazer. Really simple timeless pieces. I travel a lot, so I have a uniform that I tend to stick to which is a pair of boots, or flats, a pair of really dressy jeans that I can dress up or down, a casual t-shirt and an amazing blazer. The one that I’m wearing at the moment is Maggie Marilyn which is beautiful.
N. Name 5 beauty products you can’t live without…
Well my own skincare brand Equal Beauty – my Super Mist spray, because I travel so much which keeps my skin really hydrated. My Chanel blush.
My eyelash curler from MAC. My Equal Beauty Moisture Eye Veil mask, because they are great for travelling and keep my eyes hydrated and looking bright and fresh. They’re for both men and women too. From David Jones, they have a great selection of La Mer, and I love the La Mer lip balm – I get such dry lips so this keeps them really hydrated.
N. Have you been to Auckland before?
I have only flown through Auckland before, but I’ve been to Wellington. I was lucky enough to go to Wellington for the opening of our first NZ store and I hope I will get to return to Auckland next year when we open the Westfield Newmarket store. I wish I could spend some more time here and see the sights.
N. There has been a huge shift in diversity in modelling over recent years, with more ethnic models taking centre stage. Have you seen a shift and increase in diversity for the David Jones brand since you came on board?
Definitely. This year we really wanted to embrace different heritages and ages. We had older models on the catwalk, we have all different types of ethnicities and heritage. I think that is amazing, because I think that David Jones is a brand that is for everybody. We really are above and beyond every demographic and we want to embrace culture, and we want to embrace the world. It’s amazing to be a part of that time with David Jones. And even for myself, becoming the face of the brand, I’m half Asian, half European so for me to take over as the face, that was already a big deal in changing diversity and taking centre stage. I had always thought that I wasn’t really the girl next door face of Australia. But now, Australia is such a multicultural country that they are really embracing different ethnicities which I think is wonderful.
N. It’s 10am on a Sunday morning, where will we find you and what are you doing?
It depends where I am, but I would hope to be sleeping in, because I’m usually working a lot around the clock all week. Getting a coffee and going for a hike with a friend in LA is probably my ideal Sunday morning. I love hiking in LA and this helps me stay grounded.
N. How do you balance work, travel and keeping fit?
Lots of sleep when I can. I sleep on planes. I go to bed early when I can. I don’t drink much. I try to keep it all very healthy. I’m usually super busy so I’m not trying to burn the candle at both ends and I’m very conscious of my health. I take a lot of vitamins, and really take care of myself. I surround myself with great people, check in with my family all the time, keeping really grounded – that’s the best thing that you can do with yourself. Running around in different time zones and cities, it’s easy to lose yourself in it all. It’s the simple things that anchor me – my friends, family, not going out or drinking, getting early nights and treating it all very professionally.
N. With the rising importance of social media and Instagram, how important is your own presence on social media?
It’s really important to me. I like to portray a positive message on my own social media and to make sure that I’m being authentic and that I’m being inspirational to other people, however I try not to do anything too personal. It really is your own PR tool, especially now that I have my own brand and that’s been an amazing tool to promote the brand. Social media now has become the forefront of everything and it’s a great tool if you use it wisely.