British model and presenter Jade Parfitt talks to Kate Freud about juggling life in front of the camera with motherhood
Lounging on the sofa in the sun-bathed sitting room of her North London home, while her 11-month-old daughter Tabitha plays happily on her lap, it’s clear that Jade Parfitt has taken motherhood in her stride. “Tabitha is such a sweet, jolly baby, so lively and funny,” she laughs, their close bond clear as they dance and sing around the room. “We have a lot of fun together.”
She is clearly relishing every minute of the baby years, and enjoying motherhood as much as she did the first time around, with her son Jackson, now nine. She had raised him on her own for some years before meeting her partner Jack Dyson, a senior director at SAP Hybris, four years ago through mutual friends. “I knew it would take a special relationship for me to want to introduce anyone to Jackson,” she smiles, “but when I met Jack I just knew it was going to be him. We took our time and I am so grateful that we did. My son adores him and it has been a real delight watching their relationship flourish. Now we have Tabitha, our family feels complete.”
Jackson, of course, has proved a wonderful big brother to Tabitha, with the large age gap giving them a surprisingly close bond. Jade explains, “he is so protective of her and is the one person who can make her laugh without fail, even if she is tired and grizzly.” And is Tabitha in awe of her big brother? “She is his number-one fan, and that has totally cemented their relationship,” she says.
Having the children nine years apart meant she had two very different pregnancies. First time around, Jade was modelling full time and started to show early, so had to stop work. This time around, with Tabitha, she worked into her eighth month so felt far more exhausted. “I was lucky to have fantastic pregnancies both times, but throughout the second time – I am not sure if it was because I was having a girl – I was so tired and emotional. I couldn’t watch anything remotely sad or sentimental without sobbing. It’s funny looking back on it.”
Though Jade is in her element talking pregnancy and babies these days, it’s a world away from her early life as a model, discovered aged 15 when her mother entered her into a competition on ITV’s This Morning. Things progressed quickly from there, and before she knew it she was shooting with photographers like Craig McDean and David Sims for I-D magazine and The Face, and was flying off to New York to work with the legendary Steven Meisel. “I ended up moving to New York at 19, shooting campaigns for everyone from Versace to Jean Paul Gaultier,” says Jade, “they were exciting times.”
But, disaster struck when, at the height of her career aged 21, she broke her ankle badly. It was a year of rehabilitation and several operations before she was back on her feet, and understandably she was worried about the damage it would have on her career. Thankfully, she says, “I was lucky to have clients who still wanted to book me after such a long time off.”
Seventeen years on, she still works regularly, though these days she’s choosier about the jobs she takes. “Both children have travelled with me over the years,” she says, “I am very lucky that my mum also loves to travel and comes with me to help with the kids when she can.” But even then it’s not easy, Jade goes on, “there’s such a lot of upheaval bringing them, or worse, leaving them behind, so I don’t work as much as I used to.” Another new passion is her YouTube channel, Jade Parfitt Fashion Blonde, which is a hub of fashion films made over the years, featuring many of her fabulous industry friends.
When Jade gets a moment to herself she retreats to Eqvvs where her trainer Nicola Addison keeps those model limbs in shape, or she loves Tara Lee’s yoga classes at The Life Centre in Notting Hill. And when she and the kids are knocking around London she takes Tabitha to Monkey Music classes or they head en famile to Kew Gardens, which Jade’s grandmother buys her a membership for each year.
So, do she and Jack ever talk about adding to their brood? “We have spoken about maybe one more baby, but Tabitha isn’t even a year old yet, so we’ll wait and make that decision further down the line,” explains Jade. “For now, we feel extremely blessed with the two we have.”