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ROLE CALL Claire Thomson-Jonville

The editor-in-chief of Self Service magazine on quietly revolutionising the world of print.

Interview by Jane McFarland.

Self Service is one of the fashion industry’s leading publications. It features fashion’s most renowned names and faces and, over the last 25 years, has become a bona fide collectable. Scottish-born Claire Thomson-Jonville is the woman at the helm, navigating the French fashion industry as authentically as a native Parisian from the magazine’s HQ in Paris. Her path took her via university in Edinburgh, a spell studying at the Sorbonne in Paris and time assisting Self Service co-founder and publisher Ezra Petronio. Now, Thomson-Jonville is heading up the cult biannual’s next phase – a branded content agency, Content Matters, with founder Petronio. She talks to The Style Report about the evolving world of magazines.

Issues of Self Service magazine featuring Raquel Zimmermann, Maria Borges, Sam Rollinson, Anja Rubik, Daphne Groeneveld, Arizona Muse and Stella Tennant.

‘There’s so much variety in what I’ve been doing that it feels like I’ve worked at loads of different places because I’ve done so many different jobs. Today I am super excited to be editor-in-chief of the magazine, which to me is an honour and I’m really thrilled to be in that position because there are so many things to do – there’s the print, the digital, the web and all the different collaborative projects with brands and beyond. And now, the agency.’

‘For me there’s no pressure with digital – I enjoy it, I really get excited by it. We are an independent publication – we’re quite free in what we can do so if we have ideas, we can just try it, of course within Self Service’s aesthetic, and I find that really exciting and challenging. With Ezra, we are actually developing a new independent branch of Self Service – an agency called Content Matters. It’s exploring and developing brands’ digital narrative and storytelling, which is an extension of what we’ve been doing anyway online with Self Service.’

‘Instagram made me realise how much wealth of archive we have. I think that sets us apart from other independent magazines. It’s been 25 years and with so many amazing issues and so many epic fashion stories, the legacy of Self Service is something we pride ourselves on.’

‘Ultimately we don’t want to be “trendy”, we want to produce beautiful images that are timeless, where you open issues and it could be from any time. That’s definitely something we keep in mind. We are very lucky because we have a very loyal following – people consider it a collectable, precious object so we definitely treat it that way. The people who are involved create something special so we definitely have a very personal relationship with people who shoot for us. Nobody wants to do mediocre work for Self Service.’

Claire Thomson-Jonville

‘I like the runway shows, I like the presentations. It’s important to attend them because you can gauge the reactions, I like to meet the designers personally and understand their points of view, see the clothes up close, also during the shows there are discussions with creative collaborators, and the general mood of the season; it sets the tone. I love to see the models – that’s one of the main things for me. You see who’s back and who’s gone. A great casting really gets me inspired for the new issue.’

A selection of images from Claire Thomson-Jonville’s Instagram.

‘I feel Parisian in terms of this is my city and I probably dress more Parisian, that classic, sleek, nonchalant look and bed-head hair. But I definitely don’t feel French. I am quite a positive person – I think that’s one of my qualities – I’m really driven and enthusiastic. When I started to put my infant daughter through school it made me realise the difference of being a foreigner compared to being French in France. I would say I am Parisian, but definitely not French.’

‘I am always open to meeting new people, so my advice is be open and humble. Maybe not thinking that you know it all. I meet a lot of young photographers and stylists and something that would attract me to young talent is someone who knows their own mind, but is humble and eager to learn. Just quietly work away and focus, and your turn will come. I think there are a lot of egos and noise with social media and everyone wants to be famous and for me that’s a turn-off. I am naturally drawn to people who are quietly working hard. That would be my advice – just quietly work, persevere with what you’re doing.’



The Style Report
The Style Report