Jones in one of her recent shootsKirsty McLachlan

As we went for her “fourth coffee of the day”, Viv Jones strolled along wearing an outfit that would make the whole of Sidgwick Site go weak at the knees. They say you either graduate Cambridge with a first, a blue or a partner. Viv Jones graduated with a double first, a modelling career and impeccable style.

Jones has built up an impressive CV during and after her time at Cambridge. Signed to V Management, Jones has worked with brands such as GANNI, Rick Owens and Réalisation Par and attended events by brands worldwide, including in Los Angeles and Paris. Over the past couple of years, she has gained 88,000 followers on Instagram (and counting) and continues to establish herself in the modelling industry.

Jones was scouted in her late teens and while she modelled occasionally, she first wanted to study at Cambridge. Not wanting to balance both during her time at university, she instead channelled her creative energy into Cambridge University Charity Fashion Show and Varsity.

There is a stereotype prevalent in the fashion industry that models are unintelligent. However Jones notes that some of the smartest people she’s worked with on set are models: “They are so creative and often are modelling to fund other things – they’ll be writing poetry on a whiteboard between shoots, learning lines on set.” Jones achieved her double first in Politics and Sociology at Fitzwilliam College, and she enjoys having a Cambridge degree up her sleeve. “I bring it up subtly in conversation – it’s nice to have a degree.”

“Jones notes that some of the smartest people she’s worked with on set are models”

After applying for deferred entry, Jones was itching to get back into academia and extracurriculars. How did she get involved with Varsity in the first place? Cambridge’s favourite platform: Facebook. Jones joined the publication in her first term at Cambridge as a fashion columnist – “I got on the Varsity ladder and worked my way up.” She quickly progressed from Senior Opinion Editor to Magazine Editor, then ended her Varsity career in Michaelmas of her second year as Editor-In-Chief. For Jones, Varsity became an outlet for writing in a non-academic manner and it provided an alternative to modelling in allowing her to explore her interest in fashion.

Jones joined Cambridge University Charity Fashion Show in her second year, at which point she was less involved with Varsity. “I couldn’t have done the two things at the same time [...] I had modelled a bit before university and already had an interest in modelling and fashion.” She adored her time at Cambridge University Charity Fashion Show, involving herself in several of the editorial photoshoots as well as walking for the show.

She admitted how challenging she found balancing modelling and fashion with her degree, saying: “I always prioritise my degree the most,” but explaining that she struggled with the feeling of spreading herself too thinly. “I feared being adequate at everything but not good at anything.”

After graduating, she was scouted again by V Management, just as the rest of the world entered a pandemic. However, Jones was able to use this potentially career-ending event to her advantage, as “there were virtual shoots and I could work from home, so it felt like a natural way to start working in the industry.”

Despite launching her career amid the uncertainty of the pandemic, Jones has found that her biggest challenge in the industry is the lack of routine and structure. “I thrive on having stable things around me and modelling in its nature is very last minute, everything happens really fast.” She also admitted that modelling can feel dehumanising – “as a human being it can be difficult sometimes when you are being treated as a product.”


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Jones talked about her love of Instagram and how she started to incorporate it into her career: “It’s good for having your own voice and showing your face behind jobs.” She explained how traditional casting agents have started using Instagram before booking you for certain jobs: “It’s important to show your personality.”

Jones has especially enjoyed finding a community through social media – “people who are similar to me, wear similar clothes, who are also queer”. As a queer woman she is often asked to play a “very feminine straight woman” during shoots and found that social media was a place where she could lean into her queer identity and connect with people who understand her.

However, not all that glitters is gold. Jones explained the drawbacks of having a social media platform: “You feel that people have certain assumptions about you.” Telling me about her friends who have experienced it on a larger scale, she revealed that: “It is a lot of pressure and can affect your sense of self.”

So, what’s next for Jones? She wants to continue modelling, but she’s also curious about acting, something she has had a long-term interest in: “A lot of the things that I enjoy about modelling are acting – seeing myself in ways that aren’t me, bringing somebody’s ideas to life, being a character.” Academia also isn’t something she wants to let go of yet: “At heart I’m an academic and I love it.” For now, Jones plans on “existing in the real world, travelling, being with different kinds of people and working creatively”.