As presenter JoJo Kelly launches her debut fashion collection, she talks to Stephanie Smith about her love of retro chic.
JoJo Kelly is a woman in demand. Hosting launch parties, MC-ing awards ceremonies and presenting fashion shows throughout Yorkshire, she crackles with energy and sizzles with all the charm and panache required to garner and tame a live audience, whatever its size or preconceptions.
Her booming voice will be instantly recognisable to many across Yorkshire, because she has worked as a Leeds-based radio presenter for 17 years now, currently as co-host of Capital FM’s Hirsty’s Daily Dose Breakfast Show.
Soon also to become a lifestyle presenter on a new Leeds TV channel, JoJo is admired for her fashion sense, a highly individual, statement style inspired by her love of the Seventies and retro chic. Now she has launched her own fashion range, a collaboration with designer Darecca Stainforth and Fashion Pony, a Leeds-based online retailer and promoter of independent fashion designers, most of which are based in Yorkshire. Fashion Pony (the name is a play on “clothes horse”) sells to clients all over the world.
“I’ll do anything for a new dress,” JoJo says, with a huge grin and throaty laugh.
The JoJo Collection is a capsule range of statement pieces, plus accessories, all offered in sizes 6-18, although they can be made in different measurements and sizes, at no extra cost. “It’s important to me that it is attainable but, at the same time, it’s aspirational,” JoJo says.
“Most pieces can be made to measure, but they are the same price as on the High Street,” adds Victoria Reddington, who founded Fashion Pony with Dawn Hunter in 2010. And prices are reasonable – £70 for the dresses, £90 for a jumpsuit and £220 for a floor-length camel coat with faux fur collar. Accessories include a faux fur headband (£8), collar (£25) and muff (£15).
Victoria says, “Whenever JoJo wears something, she gets so many comments – ‘where did you get that dress?’ It made sense to have her influence the pieces.”
“But I am no good at drawing,” says JoJo. Fashion Pony matched her up with Darecca, a designer and pattern cutter with her own label, Dazarockz. “She is pretty genius,” says JoJo, explaining how, when Darecca first made up the outfits in plain toile, they fitted her perfectly. “She measured me with her eyes,” she says.
The jumpsuit is JoJo’s favourite item. “It’s just the most perfect thing to wear. I do a lot of jumping around and culottes are perfect.”
The tuxedo dress was inspired by the singer Janelle Monae. JoJo says: “I really admire her. She’s got a great look and always wears tuxedos, so we did a twist on that.
“Everyone needs a little black dress. There’s a collar you can wear with or without, so it’s an extra accessory. The fabric is so flattering, the front is pleated, like a dinner shirt and there is shine down the side, like dinner pants would have.”
The collaboration between JoJo – who lives in Leeds with husband, Jacob Kelly, and seven-year-old son Rudi – and Fashion Pony began in 2010 when she and Victoria met at the launch party of Capital FM. She has borrowed the retailer’s clothes ever since.
“I have to attend a lot of events and, in this day and age, it’s good to loan stuff,” she says.
“I’ve always loved vintage, mainly for the fabrics, especially polyester, which doesn’t need ironing. I shop on the basis of ‘does it need ironing?’ And vintage fabrics are flattering to my body shape. On the High Street, it’s hard to get items that fit right.”
Fashion Pony has helped provide a platform for designers including Bo Carter and Klue by Kelly-Ann. It provides support for up-and-coming talent, charging a smaller cut than other retailers might and finding suppliers and seamstresses. Victoria says: “It’s an important part of why we are a platform, as designers often don’t know how to take that next step.”
The JoJo Collection is available at www.fashionpony.co.uk. It will be showcased at Bethany’s charity Styles for Smiles fashion show at Headingley Carnegie Stadium on February 28. Tickets: firstname.lastname@example.org.