If you like to keep track of New York high society, or if you’re like me and can catch up on a years’ worth of obsessive trolling with one hour of deft Internet searching, then you’ve definitely heard of Genevieve Jones. She’s a woman of style, taste and – as some New York social scribes call her – ‘mystery’.
Apparently, Ms. Jones is the child of a British father and Trinidadian mother, which is why I considered writing about her on this blog. More importantly, she’s just launched a line of jewelry, which touches on one of my favorite subjects – consumption!
Anyhoo, Ms. Jones casts rings, earrings and safety pins in white and yellow gold embellished with colorful diamonds. One of her pieces, black diamonds on white gold, reportedly goes for $895 at Kirna Zabete, a high-end boutique in Soho, according to the New York and fashion press.
I’m much more interested in the fact that Ms. Jones is a black woman, probably of mixed parentage, and is running a business. Everything I’ve read described her as a do-nothing party girl who *gasp* led New York bluebloods to believe that she was one of them, when in fact she came from a middle class family and apparently fibbed about her age. As the story goes, according to The Wall Street Journal, which did a front-page profile on her in September 2006, Ms. Jones landed in New York in 1998 and “sidled up to the fashion crowd”.
The Journal investigated Ms. Jones just as thoroughly as it would have the boardroom tactics at Microsoft. At one point, the Journal reported:
“Unlike many of her friends, Ms. Jones isn’t an heiress and she lacks the Ivy League credentials and social pedigree of Manhattan’s largely white society set. An African-American, she grew up in Baton Rouge, La., and didn’t go to college. Some personal details, from her job to her age, remain sketchy. Ms. Jones says she is 27, but according to a database of public documents, her driver’s license and voter registration put her at age 31.”
Yikes! And the follow-up coverage was searing, except for a few side-splitting comments on Gawker.com.Well, not being from any highfalutin, exclusive social circle (unless an insular immigrant community counts) I couldn’t understand why people let loose with the sort of catnip usually reserved for the pages of Vanity Fair. By “exposing” Ms. Jones as an outsider with a middle class background, the implication is that being born into money and using one’s energy to perpetuate that lifestyle deserves merit. Ms. Jones — Genevieve if you’re fabulous — used all the talents and abilities in her arsenal to launch a business and make some money! Sounds good to me. Hopefully everyone has loosened up and gotten some perspective since that spate of articles first appeared 17 months ago. Genevieve Jones is my real-life satirical hero, a sister’s version of Becky Sharp. And dears, if you don’t know who Becky is, pick up a copy of the novel “Vanity Fair,” by William Makepeace Thackeray. Aside from being a literary masterpiece, it’s a scream!