Returning to the runway for Jeremy Scott’s 20th anniversary, we remember some of her best appearances in fashion, music and film
As one of the most recognisable alternative faces of the 90s, cult model Devon Aoki hardly needs introducing. Born in 1982, the half-American, half-Japanese beauty was discovered at a concert in New York aged 13 and signed to an agency a few years later.
By the time she was 16, she was one of the most in-demand girls of the moment, with some of the industry’s top photographers (including Juergen Teller, Ellen von Unwerth and Nick Knight) all transforming her in their images. Her career in fashion has seen her walk for too many brands to mention – as well as being a longterm muse to Jeremy Scott, her chameleonic looks also allowed her to go from turns as the Chanel couture bride to fronting a Baby Phat campaign.
Aoki (who, BTW, is only 5’4”) never thought she would be as successful as she was. “I don’t fit the status quo. I suppose that's a good thing. Not everyone's 5ft 10in and stick thin,” she told Susannah Frankel for the Independent in 1999.
Still, that didn’t stop her from leaving the industry full-time to pursue a career as an actress – usually playing a bad ass bitch with an enviable wardrobe – and returning to fashion every now and then to remind us all of her one-of-a-kind beauty.
Here, we revisit some of her most iconic moments over the years.
PRIMAL SCREAM – “KOWALSKI” (1997)
Remember that time Devon Aoki and Kate Moss starred in a music video for Primal Scream? After being introudced to Moss by her godmother, Aoki featured alongside the British model for the “Kowalski” vid back in 1997. Described by lead singer Bobbie Gillespie as “a cross between Faster Pussycat, Kill! Kill! and The Sweeney”, it sees the pair steal a car and track down the band members to beat them up. Talk about foreshadowing her film career.
Possibly one of the most striking images to exist of the model was shot by Nick Knight for Visionaire in 1997. Aoki’s alienesque features perfectly complement the structured Alexander McQueen top she is wearing, and with one misty eye and petals pouring from the slash in her forehead, she looks like you imagine a twisted, intergalactic Barbie doll would.
CHANEL AW99 HAUTE COUTURE
Following her runway debut in 1997, Aoki walked for brands including Balenciaga, Comme des Garçons and a number of times for Chanel. She even starred as the face of the SS99 campaign, shot by Karl Lagerfeld in sepia tone. For the AW99 Haute Couture show, Aoki took the runway twice. Her first outfit was a fluffy lilac jumper and skirt set – complete with giant pom-pom earrings. She also played the role of the bride, closing the show in a giant white hooded cloak, mostly covered except for her punk, pink mohawk hanging out of the top.
COMME DES GARÇONS SS01
Aoki’s unconventional style made her the perfect fit for legendary Japanese brand Comme des Garçons, whose SS01 show she walked for. The collection – entitled Optical Shock – was based on twisted op-art graphics, with unconventional materials like Sellotape, bubble wrap and tinfoil added for good measure. Aoki had two looks in the show – a warped red and white suit, and a psychotically psychedelic number which came complete with a headdress made of plastic and what appeared to be rubbish.
MOSCHINO JEANS CAMPAIGN
Before Jeremy Scott took over the Italian house in 2013, Moschino was helmed by designer Rosella Jardini. For the SS01 campaign of the brand’s diffusion line Moschino Jeans, Jardini chose Aoki as the face. Shot by Nathaniel Goldberg, it saw Aoki appear twice side-by-side herself in each image, playing a different teenage stereotype from innocent schoolgirl, punk princess and beach babe.
JEREMY SCOTT SS01
Designer Jeremy Scott is more than just a fan of Aoki, he is also a long-time friend. While the model and muse has appeared in a number of his shows – most recently his SS18 collection to celebrate his 20th anniversary – one of her most memorable appearances was for his SS01 collection. The second half of the show took a different direction, turning into a pageant with Scott on the mic calling out the models’ measurements as they walked past in swimwear he had designed. Aoki played the part of Ariel in this Little Mermaid-inspired look.
2 FAST 2 FURIOUS (2003)
While fashion fans may not think a film like 2 Fast 2 Furious would have any relevance to them, they couldn’t be more wrong. One of Aoki’s biggest acting roles, she played Suki – leader of the all-female street racing gang. Bonus points to her for always matching her outfits with her wheels.
Aoki’s second film appearance was in the 2004 D.E.B.S. Following four students who were about to graduate from the Discipline, Energy, Beauty, and Strength academy, Aoki played the role of Dominique – a chain smoking French girl who likes to drink black coffee. Does anybody else make a school uniform look that good?
In 2006, Aoki starred in DOA as Princess Kasumi – a karate-fighting warrior avenging the death of her brother. Stuck on an island with a group of fighters, when she wasn’t kicking the asses of her competitors or playing beach volleyball she liked to celebrate her wins contemplating life in a rose petal bath. We all need a little downtime.
MOSCHINO RESORT 2017
Since the mid 00s, Aoki has been quietly raising her three children with her husband – but that hasn’t stopped her appearing campaigns for Kenzo, Hugo Boss and Jeremy Scott. Before her recent appearance at Scott’s own label, the designer brought Aoki back to the runway for the Moschino Resort 2017 show – held in LA. Cheered on by two of her children, she walked in a 60s-inspired bralet and lace flares.