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Nancy Donahue

Interviewed by Jed

JED: Nancy - you are a legendary beauty! You lead an amazing life. You have had an extraordinary career. You are famous as an iconic, spirited cover girl and are now a successful entrepreneur as well. You’re known for having one of the most joyous, delightful personalities in the fashion business. To what do you attribute your success?

NANCY DONAHUE: You are so kind, thank you! I am so very lucky and grateful to have the most wonderful family who always kept me grounded.

Nancy wears JED: the Diaghilev Stripe silk turtleneck, photographed by Joseph Boggess

What are you most proud of? I am most proud of my son, George Eng. I was a single mom and was really quite strict with George, and he has grown to be a very successful, kind and giving human being with the most incredible sense of humor. I am also so proud of all the accomplishments I had as a “Supermodel”. I never realized it then what history we were all creating. I thought every girl got on a cover of Vogue - not only in the U.S., but also all over Europe! I was very lucky and never realized it. Trust me, I do now!

What haven’t you done that you’d like to do? Well, I am a travel bug and I would love to go to Singapore, do yoga in India, visit Thailand, Australia and many parts of Europe that I haven’t been to. I am a swimmer and would love to swim in every ocean in the world!

Left: American Vogue cover, photographed by Stan Malonowski // Right: British Vogue cover, photographed by Eric Boman

Tell us about BelleCore! BelleCore is a company which I co-founded with four doctors and a business woman from Boston. We invented the BelleCore bodybuffer which is an award winning beauty tool for the body. We did three years of research and development with Harvard and MIT engineers and launched in 2010. Within 5 months of launch we got an exclusive in all 42 Neiman Marcus stores and Harrods of London. We proceeded to be in Bergdorf, Bloomingdales, Brookstone and many high-end spas across the country. We did hundreds of beauty, fitness and spa expos! I was on the road for at least six years promoting the product. All this hard work paid off as we are now selling direct to the consumer which is always one’s end game. And we have product coming arriving in two weeks and I am ecstatic

How do you know about JED? JED!! Well, we go way back! I remember meeting Jed at the Perry Ellis fittings. He would be sitting on the floor with Patricia and Isaac hemming my dress and boy did we laugh. It was like a play date with the most creative people of that decade and we had the best time! Jed also came to Lowell, MA (where I am from) to do my wedding which Perry designed. I remember Jed up in my bedroom pinning, laughing, joking and doing what he does! Most talented man on the planet then and now.

British Vogue, photographed by Denis Piel

 Describe your favourite luxury that doesn’t cost a thing. Well, I would have to say having the best family and friends I could ever ask for. Costs nothing and means everything to me - especially people that I have known for the past 40 years in the fashion business. We all grew up creating magic, beautiful images and fantastic friendships. These friendships we developed as kids are everlasting.

What do you do to NOT fit in? I don’t wear all the fashionista garb. I just can’t do it. No fancy handbags for me. I am still a jean and t-shirt gal and a fierce JEDhead junkie! Can’t get enough.

What’s the greatest adventure you’ve ever had? I was a crazy triathlete and I have to say, doing the Escape from Alcatraz was pretty cool - and it was very difficult. So proud of that one!

What do you obsess about? Well, I obsess about working - and working out every single day!

Left: Preview for Carrie Donovan at the New York Times Magazine: Nancy in Perry Ellis accompanied by Jed’s gouache. // Right: Spring fitting on Nancy with Perry and Jed

 What’s the most brilliant idea you had that never saw the light of day? As an entrepreneur, you always have ideas, thoughts and projects you would like to start. Since I am at the yoga studio on a daily basis, I see women using  plastic bags EVERY DAY and it kills me. I am big promoter of “saving the planet” and I came up with this reusable bag for health clubs that is really good looking and it would eliminate the whole plastic bag chain. I am still working on it and hopefully it will come to fruition one day.

What is the best laugh you had recently? I have to say, I belly laugh on a daily basis, especially with my sisters and brothers who I adore. They mean so much to me and my siblings have the best sense of humor. I am one of eleven children and there is always something going on!  “F” bombs constantly flying! One example: my brother just sent me a cartoon from New Yorker magazine:  a picture of a yoga class and the teacher is saying at the end of class, “….and we will close with a moment of silence for all the people with jobs who couldn’t be with us today.” I was rolling on the floor laughing out loud.

Left: Nancy wears JED: the Troubadour shirt, photographed by Patrice Casanova // Right: Nancy wears JED:  the Seven-colour Skinnyminirib turtleneck, photographed by Joseph Boggess

Why JED? There are so many reasons for “why Jed.” Firstly, we go way back and I have always admired his talent, his spirit, his intelligence, sense of humor and friendship. Secondly, I am totally in love with what he is doing now, which is current and simply stunning. Great textures, fabrics and designs. So love.

What is your favourite “JED du jour”? This is a difficult one! I love the new blazer, the ribbed sweaters, polka dot shirts and the list goes on. There is not one item I don’t like.

 Do you believe in luck? Yes, I do believe in luck because I was so lucky to have been discovered when I was attending Lasell College back in the day. If I hadn’t been discovered, I would be a secretary in some random office as that was my major. Crazy, right???

Do you have a lucky talisman? Yes. I wear a beautiful jade bracelet that I never take off which George gave me some years ago. It means the world to me, and every time I need some positive energy, I look at my wrist.

Nancy today, photographed in Brooklyn by Lyan Bernales

At JED we are “hellbent on hope”. What do you hope for? There are so many things I hope for. One being that my business will be successful and make some real money! How about that one? I have been at this for 10 years and we are just on the “tip of the iceberg.” As I tell fellow entrepreneurs - you can’t rush a business. It has to grow  organically which I learned the hard way. But it is working. And the obvious - I really hope for some kind of PEACE in this world of ours. As a New Yorker, I am concerned about the homeless - and all the pets people buy at pet shops and then put them in shelters because they don’t work out for their families. Makes me crazy!

Nancy – from all of us at JED we thank you for your candor, enthusiasm, support, friendship and willingness to be our very first featured JEDhead! We couldn’t be more honoured!! xxoo

Follow her journey @bellecorellc @nancydonahue