Model Jenny Shimizu walks into her agency's loft in SoHo and immediately gets a tongue-lashing from her booker. "What?" she asks coyly. "I'm not bad, I'm good."
Shimizu knows that she and Kate Moss -- who is also repped by Women -- were, in fact, guilty of "having a little too much fun while we were modeling," she says. But it's hard to imagine this delicate girl with the soft voice and unassuming manner as a troublemaker. It's even harder to imagine she's the same model whom Gianni Versace said "scared" him.
"He was scared?" she says. "It was my first runway job and I walk backstage and there's Christy and Kate and Naomi and Helena Christiansen -- all these supermodels. Then there's me. I was terrified. He was scared? With all these girls coming in in their Chanel and with their bodyguards?"
Maybe Versace is accustomed to Chanel and bodyguards, but isn't exactly used to a model with four tattoos who used to make her living as an auto mechanic.
In a garage was where Shimizu spent her working hours before a stylist spotted her in an L.A. nightclub last year. Within two weeks, she had a part in an En Vogue video and was on her way to Long Island to shoot a Banana Republic ad with Bruce Weber.
"Ever since I was little, I loved working with tools and things," Shimizu says. "I used to race motocross and I would always take my bikes apart and put them back together. So when I was in college trying to figure out what to do with my life, I thought, 'What am I good at? What do I really like to do?"'
It's a love she won't abandon -- she still plans on opening her own bike repair shop some day.
In the meantime, she rides her '71 Triumph on her rare trips back to L.A. -- "I would never bring anything nice to New York," she says -- or she takes off in her '54 Ford pickup, which also remains in California.
It seems that she wouldn't really have the time to enjoy her toys anyway. She's been working practically nonstop since she began modeling.
Issa Rae stopped by WWD's NYC headquarters to talk about season two of "Insecure," which premieres this Sunday on HBO. Click link in bio for all the details. #wwdeye (📷: @jgreenery; Styled by @mayteallende)
A Stella McCartney sketch of a custom dress made from protein-based silk in partnership with biotech lab Bolt Threads. The dress will be displayed at The Museum of Modern Art's upcoming design exhibition, "Items: Is Fashion Modern?"