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DUPONT TWINS by ARALE REARTES for DSCENE 12 + INTERVIEW

Discover DSCENE Magazine’s cover story and an exclusive interview with Jake and Joseph Dupont

DUPONT TWINS

Jake and Joseph Dupont are twin fashion models that have broken into the industry after 10 years of unrelenting hard work and dedication. Growing up in a small town in Connecticut, the two brothers mostly leaned on each other when the world wasn’t open or ready to accept gay models that would walk during women’s fashion week. At just 24-years-old, the Dupont twins have now signed with Muse Model Management in New York and are spearheading the mission of breaking social and gender stereotypes. They are creating a more inclusive environment for LGBTQ, non-binary, and non-confirming people by just being themselves.

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More recently, the world has been celebrating the twins’ individuality – Jake and Joseph have landed jobs for Ellen Von Unwerth, Lady Gaga’s beauty brand Haus Laboratories, and Charli Howard’s new skincare line Squish Beauty. If the Dupont Twins felt misunderstood when they began modeling, tools such as social media has helped bridge that gap and shown them that they are not alone. Their persistence, intelligence, and self-confidence have inspired others to truly be themselves. They are only paving the way for future generations to express who they really are, no mater what.


DUPONT TWINS

How did your interest and passion for fashion begin?
Joseph: I feel like we always had a very strong sense of style. We were always keen on experimenting with our identity. From a young age we had very separate styles that merged together as we grew. I was kind of polished and wore three-piece suits and had slicked back hair everyday. Jake was more of a rocker kid with spiked hair. It was always very on brand and apparent that we had a separate style. We were very different from the kids around us. We weren’t into sports. We were always into fashion, holding our Vogue magazine, and always looking for the next fashion related big thing to do.

Who did you look up to when you were still new to modeling?
Jake: It was really hard for us to see people who looked like us in magazines because until really recently that has never happened. We always looked up to women and top supermodels and designers of course. It was really all about the look and seeing we could wear that. Mugler, McQueen, Versace – those were really the icons. We never really looked for that one model growing up. It was really “Hey that’s the look I see myself in.”

We’ve always had a very feminine point of view and taken inspiration from the women around us. That really turned us into the people we are today. We really hope to push the industry forward with what we’re doing so that other kids who are like us, and want to do what we do, are able to get out there and see someone they can relate to. Hopefully we’ll be those people for others in the future.

DUPONT TWINS

You two aren’t just models, but role models for our current generation and those to come.
Joseph: We didn’t have a true role model. We looked up to people like Lady Gaga, which was insane when we got the job with her. We never had someone who was like us. We looked up to all these women and that was great, but where were my people? We’re just trying to break that mold.

Jake: And pave the way for the girls to get there!

Joseph: If they could see us pursuing our dreams… they don’t have to be in fashion.

Jake: It’s putting a face to the whole gender, non-binary, non-conforming movement. We’re here, we’ve been here for years. People are just catching onto it now. We’ve been around forever, but no one wanted to see it before. We’re here, in your face. We’re not asking anymore, we’re telling you we’re here. That’s what we’re going to do until we get what we want.

The world wasn’t ready or open to the idea of gender fluidity. Do you think they are now?

Joseph: I think they’re ready. I don’t think that a lot of people have opened their eyes completely. I think they’re more tolerant.

Jake: I think that people are accepting and willing to make room for us. We’ve shown such a small aspect of what we can do. No one, not even us, can realize our full potential yet. Everyone is just going to have to grow with us as a community. If you want to be in it that’s amazing and we always love the support. If you don’t, then you’re just going to have to watch us grow and hopefully catch up with us in the meantime.

DUPONT TWINS

Who were some of the essential people who helped you get where you are today?
Jake: The biggest support we had growing up was honestly each other. Growing up, we had such a tough time. Our family was super supportive of us doing modeling, being queer, and doing whatever we wanted to do. There was never a problem with that, but the town we grew up in was just so difficult. There were not a lot of people who were out as gay, never mind anyone who was struggling with their gender identity. Looking like us, the way we did, we always looked like this.

Joseph: It was really hard to relate to other people, and it was hard for other people to relate to us.

Jake: No one understood what we were going through. They didn’t even see us as human. For us, it was just keeping our relationship strong between each other and making sure that we were always on the same page and supporting each other through everything. That’s what pushed us. Even ‘til this day we keep each other in line, when we’re working we make sure that everything is set, that we have good energy together. Everyone else is going to do what they think is right, or react to us in a certain way when they see us. As long as we are comfortable in our skin and working with each other, that is what has pushed us the most.

Joseph: It’s also so amazing to have Jake, and for him vice versa for me. We know exactly what the other person is gong through because we do it together. We share the same mind and the same experience. We’re twins, so it’s a very special relationship. We know exactly what the other person is feeling. We see it on the other’s face; we don’t even have to talk.

DUPONT TWINS

How were you discovered?
Joseph: I would say our most recent discovery would be with Muse Model Management. We have been modeling for 10 years all together now. It was not an overnight thing. It started with knocking on doors when we were really young. We were doing it alone for a while because no one really wanted to take that chance and set the bar. Then one night we were at a party and Derek from Muse came up to us. He introduced himself, it was very quick. We got an email and a couple of months later we went in and met everyone at Muse. They were like, “You can be who you want to be. What do you want to do?” It was this huge opportunity that we had not really seen before because all of the other agencies were like, “You need to change this.” When we went to Muse, we didn’t have to change anything. That led to a lot of opportunities. We got Ellen von Unwerth, we did The Blondes, we’ve done New York Fashion Week finally, and obviously Gaga. That is one of the jobs that I think everyone has seen us in. For some people it may seem that we popped out of nowhere, but a lot of people don’t know that we’ve been doing this for 10 years now.

Jake: It just really wasn’t the time. The industry really was not ready for this kind of look or this kind of face, but we’re ready.

Joseph: We’ve always been ready!

Jake: We’ve just been waiting for everyone to catch up to it. Muse has been the biggest push for us.

Muse really lives up to its name in the sense that the roster is filled with a large variety of unique talent.

Jake: That’s what we love, because we felt like it was a perfect fit.

Joseph: Everyone is like family there and they accept us for who we are. We went into the agency with our wigs on and they completely accepted us.

Jake: That’s the thing. If you’re going to be run by an agency, they have to be supportive of who you are because you’re not going to be happy with someone who’s going to tell you “Okay this is great, but we’re going to switch it all up.” Down to the bone you can’t even be yourself. How is that going to make you successful?

Joseph: Everyone needs constructive criticism at the end of the day, but if you’re changing everything or just saying “You won’t make it because of who you are, that’s just point blank not the right fit.

DUPONT TWINS

What is the dynamic of modeling as twins like?

Jake: For us, it’s just so natural. I don’t know what it’s like to not model with you. We get asked all the time, “What’s it like being a twin? Do you like being a twin?” Honestly for us, we don’t know what it’s like to not do that. If I was on a photo shoot by myself I would be so much more uncomfortable for sure and so anxious. We always have that solid person there, that rock. If something is a little iffy, like we’re not comfortable in the outfits, we can say something because we feel stronger together.

We were in the womb together. We do everything together. We still live together in New York, and we work together. It’s just how we are best. We are definitely great individually, but together we are more powerful.

Have you always worked well together or was it a learning process?
Joseph: I think we’ve always worked well together. There have been a couple of arguments, like “I want that outfit,” or “you’re running late, and you’re making me late.” It’s always a learning process and we’re learning together. It’s a growing experience. Everything that we do, we do it together.

Jake: We’re all going through it at the same time. We always make sure we’re discussing things and pushing each other forward together. Could you imagine if it was an issue? If we didn’t work well together? Us fighting or throwing things on set?

Joseph: That would be so sad!

DUPONT TWINS

What has modeling helped you realize about yourself, and your relationship to each other?

Jake: For myself and together, we are so much more powerful than what I even thought. Growing up I had these dreams and these ambitions to be at the top in front of everyone’s face like “Hi, I’m here. I can do whatever I want.” When we’re doing these big projects and doing all these interviews, having meetings, going into magazines, it’s like wow – people are really looking at us like we’re going to be the next change and movement for the industry. It’s easy to believe that that could happen, but when it’s sitting in front of you, it’s just so powerful. It’s made our relationship so much stronger because we see what we’re doing to the public. It’s made us happier because we’re able to do what we want to do, and do it together.

Joseph: When we were younger we were so obsessed with fashion. We still are, but it’s so weird to realize that we’re actually growing with the industry at this point, because it’s not at that point where it’s fully accepted. Our career is growing as the industry is expanding. It’s crazy to realize all this impact we have. We get this fan mail so to speak. These little kids are writing us, “You inspire me to be who we want to be. You’re so beautiful, I just want to be myself because I can see you guys being yourselves.” Just to inspire someone who feels the same way as us. The impact we have is so beyond anything I could have imagined.

Jake: We had no one to look up to.

Joseph: Our goal wasn’t really to change people’s lives. We wanted the fashion, we wanted the art, we really just wanted to expand ourselves creatively, but now we have this global platform where we can speak for what we believe in and that also is a part of fashion. We have almost become activists.

Jake: Before, it wasn’t really like that. There was runway, and the public didn’t really care about what the models had to say. You’ve seen them a million times; it’s a model doing their job. At this point in the industry and where we want it to be, for us and other people like us, we have to be able to stand up and speak our truth. If not, no one will say anything and it could easily go back to a standard industry and we want to be all-inclusive. The power we have doing this now and the platform is just so major. We’re really grateful for it.

Joseph: It’s only growing. When we were younger we didn’t realize there were other people like us. We were like, “It’s just us. What are we?” When we started modeling, there wasn’t Instagram.

Jake: We were just dropping off photos at agencies.

Joseph: Now, we can see all these kinds of people who are like us and who can relate. We see so many people who are different. I know what it feels like to feel different. They know what it’s like to feel different. If we can do it, anybody can do it. It doesn’t matter what it is, if you want to do it, you can do it.

DUPONT TWINS

Do you think that social media has helped you in your cause?
Jake: It has pros and cons. We have a love hate relationship with social media. People are willing to attack you for anything. With the industry growing, it’s so sensitive because people are just looking out for every wrong move. We just need to be willing to learn and grow together, take our experiences and push forward. We need to make it a positive place for everyone. Social media is also great because you can just say what you want to say, and the whole world can see it. It’s the biggest platform you could have. It’s just instant gratification. If you want to put your work out, that’s the biggest place that everyone can see it.

Joseph: Social media is instant. Everyone sees it and it can just blow up.

Tell me about your main differences.
Joseph: We usually like to keep it a fantasy. Jake is a little taller than I am. Definitely the personalities.I’m the younger one, Jake is the older one.

Jake: They call me the bitch.

Joseph: They do (laughs). Jake is more assertive and I aspire to be like that.

Jake: I think collectively we have a middle range personality where we both stand the same.

Joseph: We’re also Geminis. We can just pick and choose who we want to be. We’ve always experimented with identity and created hyper characterizations of ourselves. We can be really full of energy. Today we are kind of calm because we know the environment. We can adapt to a lot of things.

Jake: I am super into makeup. I’ve been doing makeup for seven years. I did my makeup today. Every time we’re going somewhere, I’m always doing the makeup. I’m obsessed with it.

Joseph: I’m more into fashion. I’ve always had a magazine in my hand. I could literally tell you what collection you’re wearing from what season and what year. I’m obsessed with getting the details, looking at the seams of a garment. I look at it as art, while Jake looks at makeup like art.

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Jake: It’s so weird how we can pick up a magazine and open Vogue and see a spread for Tom Ford. Joseph would be like “That’s the jacket from this collection,” and I’d be like, “Well she’s wearing this lipstick.” We’d look at the same image collectively and see the same art and love it, but we’d be able to pick it apart in different areas.

Joseph: I can tailor and sew a little bit. I want to expand my expertise for sure, but hopefully one day we’ll be experts. Right now it’s very visual. I can say, “That’s Tom Ford for Gucci Spring 2002.

Joseph: We came to New York when we were 14 and we weren’t with some rinky-dink agency in Connecticut, we were with Models International. We were then doing it ourselves for a while which really forced us to get to know everybody. We would tell each other, “Do you want to work with this photographer? Okay, you have to email them. You have to make yourself sound presentable and market yourself.” At the end of the day we are models. We are selling our image.

Jake: At the time no one wanted to sell us, so we had to do it ourselves because that’s what we wanted to do and we just did it.

Joseph: I wouldn’t take it back at all because we did what we had to do. Knowing what we know now and being able to go through what we went through has really turned us into who we are today.

Jake: It helped us grow a lot.

DUPONT TWINS

You bring something very special today and people may not understand that yet.

Jake: That’s what we’re here for, to bring that understanding. We’re a face to look at, a personality to see. We’re not crazy or bad; we’re not here to kill anyone. We’re just trying to live a bunch of lives. You could either help us get there, or watch as we do.

Joseph: If I want to do womenswear, the next girl can do it and she deserves to do it. You can’t tell us we don’t look good doing it.

Who are some of the dream clients you’d like to work with?

Joseph: We’ve been in the talks with Steven Klein.

Jake: Yes, we’ve been trying to work that in for a while now. We’ve gotten optioned for that. We would obviously like to work with him. We’d love to do Vogue.

Joseph: We met with Condé Nast twice now. It would be legendary if we got Vogue. We got into Vogue Italia online once.

Jake: That shoot was so major. We had the hair, makeup, and ponytails.

Joseph: We would like Interview, V Magazine, and the really big slapper names. Not that we don’t want to do the up and coming designers because we love that as much as we love anything else. They really bring the art, but we just want to have those big names like Versace or Chanel under the belt because that would mean we really did it. It would mean we changed the way the industry works. Once those huge people start using us, it would mean that we did our job and that we changed the way the industry sees us.For us at least, it’ll change the way the world sees us because these huge brands, huge magazines, and huge photographers are supporting us. People are going to look at us with respect and not treat us like how we’ve been treated in the past.

Jake: I think it’s easier to go with up and coming brands because when you’re first starting out not many people are looking or seeing what you’re doing. It’s easy to say, “Let’s take a chance on this person because I know they’ll make a statement for my brand.” That is really great, but to do the major brands… those are the brands we looked up to for the inclusivity factor. To be able to do that and change that would be major, and would be able to change the rest of the world. Those are the brands that the rest of the world is looking at. Those are the household names. We want to be in the public eye, as hard as we can go.

Joseph: It’s definitely a challenge to get those things.

Jake: They may not be open to it yet, but as soon as they see us. Listen, we will push our way in. We have pushed our way here and we will keep going.

DUPONT TWINS

The Lady Gaga job for HausLaboratoires really put you on the map. How was it working with her?

Joseph: She was making sure we were comfortable as ourselves, every garment, every makeup look, to our hair.

Jake: She had an overall vision, and she would be open to hearing me out. She was so easy to work with.

Joseph: She was like, “This is the look I have for you. Do you want to wear this or something else?” I think that’s what made it so big and major. There are all these people coming together as individuals for one huge thing to promote: individuality. What could be better?

Jake: So many people saw it and we received so much positive feedback. We’re really excited to take this and run with it.

DUPONT TWINS

If you weren’t models, what would you be?

Jake: We would definitely still be in fashion.

Joseph: I would love to be a fashion designer. I can sketch some looks together and I have some ideas in my head – I just need to work on the sewing aspect.

Jake: We’ve been talking about making our own clothes for years now. We would love to become a brand and turn it into a luxury moment, like how Dior and Tom Ford did the makeup. I would be in charge of the makeup.

Joseph: I’d be in charge of the clothes. It would be legendary.

Jake: It would be our version of unisex, non-binary, no gender high fashion clothing.

Joseph: There are a lot of gender neutral, non-conforming brands out there but it’s hoodies and big pants. Where’s the fashion? Where’s the silhouette?

Jake: You want to feel sexy and empowered in a look, but it doesn’t have to be womenswear or menswear.

Joseph: It can be a dress, but why does it have to have a label? We are people, but why do we have to have a label? It’s a dress; anyone can wear it.

Jake: I think a brand is totally not out of the question for us, it would definitely be a different career path getting there.

Joseph: We definitely want to model now and get our notoriety and if we do decide to make a brand people will respect it and not be like, “Who are they?” We want to get some respect in our names and reputation first before we take the plunge and do anything crazy.

DUPONT TWINS

Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?

Jake: We really have huge, major dreams. Obviously there’s still a lot of work we want to do, but we’ve always dreamed of traveling the world, being globally known, super successful and paving the road for everyone who is following our footsteps or trying to do the same things we are. Just the community in general – we just want to be some top people in this movement. I think we’re already doing that. That’s only going to take us to success. I cannot wait to see what happens in the future. So far everything has gone according to plan.

Joseph: We’ve manifested everything that we’ve gotten so far. When we were young we dreamed of working with Gaga and it happened. Everything happens because we want it so bad and we know we’re going to get it. We will stop at nothing. In 10 years, I’m sure we’d be well on our way in making our brand if we wanted to. We also want to give back and to create foundations for people who didn’t have the support that we had. A lot of people need somewhere to go, if you’re gay, straight, trans, black, white, whatever. We want a free and safe space where everyone can come and create together and to house some people who are sick or got thrown out of their homes. We want to give back to our community.

Jake: We received a lot of support from our family, but we know so many people who didn’t. We didn’t receive support from our community – it was just our immediate family. We’ve gone to family reunions where we were kicked out because we were gay. It’s so crazy to be a part of that energy for just five minutes, never mind a lifetime.

Joseph: Growing up in Connecticut in a small town with very narrow-minded people, that energy all the time was crazy. It was so toxic. Once we took ourselves out of that situation and moved to New York, we really flourished. We really came to terms with who we are. We’ve been able to just completely bloom and discover ourselves even more, and it just gets better and better. If we can provide the small opportunity of creating a safe space for someone, we would love that.

DUPONT TWINS

Photographer ARALE REARTES @aralereartesv
Production and Interview SHERI CHIU @sheri.chiu
Fashion Stylist BARBARA VELEZ @barbbvelez
Hair Stylist. KOJI ICHIKAWA at The Club New York using LAICALE  @koji_ichikawa
Makeup Artist OLIVIA BARAD at The Industry using MAC @oliviabarad
Models JOSEPH & JAKE DUPONT at MUSE NYC @theduponttwins
Stylist Assistant NIKAEL CHEEK
Tailor JOACHIM PEREZ

dscene twelve

This story is from DSCENE Magazine Issue Twelve, available here.

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