22 may 2024

S&M, provocation, music… The 1001 lives of Julia Fox

Actress starring in the Safdie brothers’ brilliant Uncut Gems, artist, social media phenomenon, fashion icon, ex-girlfriend of Kanye West… The 34-year-old Italian-American lives a full life that draws public attention. This month, Julia Fow releases her first single, Down the Drain, a feminist hyperpop anthem. Throwback to the 1001 lives of one of the most enthralling personalities in recent years.

When the Safdie brothers’ gleaming nocturnal thriller Uncut Gems came out on Netflix in 2019, the audience had a lot of reasons to be thrilled. First, Adam Sandler embodied the hysterical, sick and endearing New York jewelry salesman, The Weeknd made a torrid appearance, and Oneohtrix Point Never produced the experimental, hypnotic soundtrack…


Then, like the icing on this big, acidic, exuberant cake, the stunning presence of a young, self-taught girl, chosen from a cast of 300 candidates, unknown to the public, yet shining on screen: Julia Fox. The 33-year-old Italian-American played the hero’s charismatic, cunning and sexy mistress, Julia De Fiore. The actress drew her inspiration from her personal life to deliver this moving performance – like her character, she also had the name of an ex-boyfriend who was angry with her tattooed on her. It immediately set the media on fire as the critics fell in love at first sight with this unknown woman with sensual curves, disarming freshness and penetrating gaze.


Kanye West apparently fell for her charm too when he crossed her path on that one New Year’s Eve… Former dominatrix, provocative artist and film director, she also released her memoir, Down the Drain, on October 10th, 2023, in which she looked back on her eventful life. Throwback to the life of the multi-faceted Julia Fox.

Julia Fox pour le défilé Victoria’s Secret de 2023, diffusé sur Prime Video.

Julia Fox, a former dominatrix who masters the art of staging and entertainment


Spotted in the brilliant thriller Uncut Gems (2019), New York actress Julia Fox has a lot going for her when it comes to catching mediatic attention. Born in Milan to an Italian mother and an American father, who raised her alone and worked a lot on construction sites, the star got around New York a lot, before seducing Hollywood. She used to be an avid club-goer in the Big Apple starting from the age of 14, while balancing odd jobs like selling ice cream, shoes or pastries, and being a dominatrix.


She was still in high school when she spent a few months indulging in S&M practices with men with wild fantasies, without ever getting naked or having sex with them. Taking the exercise as a game, she was already demonstrating her talents as an actress, while still being able to pay her bills. Like Kim Kardashian, who made her career thanks to a sex tape, the young woman turned her physical appearance into a lucrative source of income early on. And like Kanye West, she seems to approach her existence as a fully-fledged artistic performance, staging every aspect of her life.


It is no coincidence that not Kanye West and Julia Fox chose Interview, a magazine founded by Andy Warhol, to display their love. Similarly, the pope of pop never ceased to plan his daily life as if he was in an art gallery. Other powerful similarities link Julia Fox to the rapper. Diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, she fell in love with a bipolar man whose mood swings are notorious. The two of them also meet on another subject: faith. As a devout catholic, she had the words “spiritus” and “sancti” tattooed on her shoulders, which must have pleased the Sunday Services preacher, who often identifies with Jesus, or God even.


The actress also shares with the author of Donda the gift of multiplying passions and professions. In 2014, Julia Fox and one of her friends launched Franziska Fox, a line of low-cut clothing inspired by her past as a S&M dominatrix under the name Mistress Valentina, and sported by Lindsay Lohan, Iggy Azalea and Rumer Willis.

Julia Fox dans le lookbook printemps-été 2022 de Supreme par Harmony Korine.

Julia Fox, a provocative artist with a tormented life


Although she displays a perfect figure and has posed naked for Playboy, this Sopranos version of Scarlett Johansson isn’t just a mere femme fatale. While she has been the muse of many painters and photographers, she also claims to be an artist. Julia Fox published two photography books in 2015 and 2016, showcasing the bodies of vulnerable men and women stripped naked or getting a fix in an atmosphere reminiscent of Nan Goldin. She most often immortalizes people she has just met and whose lives intrigue her during the evening or at night.


For instance, Julia Fox set her sights on an S&M sex worker in Louisiana, whose gaze obsessed her. In 2017, the young New Yorker exhibited a gory series of silk pictures painted with her own blood entitled “R.I.P Julia Fox”, as if she was organizing her own funeral… She also directed a short film, Fantasy Girls (2018), about teenage prostitutes in Nevada. Less soft than the photo shoots she posts on Instagram, her personality marked by an impulsive behavior that can become harmful in order to fuel her provocative artworks and her painful past – she was homeless for part of her childhood, overdosed at 17, and was sexually assaulted in 2016 – is what inspires the artist.


Having grown up surrounded by destitute people, drug addicts and bad boys who often ended up in jail, Julia Fox considers herself a miracle survivor. She is the mother of a little boy, yet separated from the father, a pilot, whom she described at the time as “a deadbeat alcoholic drug addict.” On Instagram, she ranted about the man who left her alone with a five-month-old baby and a dog – a situation that she described as unfair.

Julia Fox dans la campagne KNWLS (2022) par Elizaveta Porodina.

A true fashion icon


It took only two years for the heroine of Steven Soderbergh’s No Sudden Move (2021) and Private Chat (2021) to establish herself as a true fashion icon. The face of Diesel, KNWLS, Victoria’s Secret, Isamaya French, Supreme and Coach multiplies her high-profile appearances at fashion shows, including Schiaparelli, Rick Owens, Patou, Kenzo, Courrèges, Iris Van Herpen, Diesel, Versace, or wandering the streets of New York, Los Angeles and Paris. Just like Doja Cat or Björk, each one of Julia Fox’s extravagant, sultry outings creates a happening that gets a lot of ink flowing.


We’ve already seen her covered in condoms, wearing openwork dresses so revealing that they left nothing to the imagination, or grocery shopping in her underwear. Her favorite fashion pieces include thigh-high boots, sheer and very short outfits, high heels, leather and latex designs and denim. Yet the actress, who favors emerging designers, also enjoys a change of hair color and eyebrows color – what’s best to spring a surprise.


At the crossroads between the heroine of the Matrix saga, a S&M devotee, and Lady Gaga, Julia Fox has become a phenomenon, a trendsetter revamping the red hair, clowncore, bikercore, gothic, no pants trends. Her mere presence immediately makes an event even more interesting.

La couverture du livre Down the Drain (2023) de Julia Fox.

Writer and author of the book Down the Drain


Artist, actress, social media superstar, fashion icon, ex-girlfriend of Kanye West… The life of the 33-year-old Italian-American is full enough to enthrall the crowds. Her autobiography, Down the Drain, released on October 10th, 2023, was one of the most captivating books of last fall.


In roughly 300 pages, Julia Fox recounts her tumultuous life, from her parents’ complicated relationship and a childhood shared between Italy and New York, to her relationship with a drug-dealing boyfriend who abused her, her job as a dominatrix and her addiction to heroin. According to Fourth Estate, Julia Fox’s publishing house, the main themes of the book are family and friendship, sex and death, love and violence, money and power… To Julia Fox, her memoirs are nothing else but a masterpiece.


The most bitter pages are dedicated to Kanye West. The actress shared how the rapper offered to pay for her breast enhancement during a game of UNO and urinated on a wall on their first date. At the end of a tormented relationship, Kanye West also gave her and her friends Birkins.

Marketing or love? Julia Fox and Kanye West’s high-profile love affair


Just when it seemed that Kanye West couldn’t get over his divorce from Kim Kardashian, publicly asking his ex-wife to come back, the news hit like a bombshell. After a few revealing paparazzi photos, the news was made official in Interview Magazine on January 6th, 2022. The magazine featured a few aesthetic shots of actress Julia Fox savagely holding Kanye West in her arms, while laying down on the floor of a room full of clothes. The photos were accompanied by a naive, intimate caption written by the actress herself, then aged 31, recounting her first electric rendezvous with the rapper.


She wrote: “I met Ye in Miami on New Year’s Eve, and it was an instant connection.” We also learn about their first two dates – the budding couple attended a performance in New York of the “Slave Play”, a provocative and hypersexualized reflection on mixed couples, and then the Yeezy founder took the actress to his favorite restaurant in Miami, Carbone, and surprised her after a wild night out with a gift worthy of the film Pretty Woman.


Julia Fox recounted: “Ye had an entire hotel suite full of clothes. It was every girl’s dream come true (…).” The enthusiastic young woman also declared: “Ye directed an entire photo shoot for me while people dinned! The whole restaurant loved it and cheered us on while it was happening.” After that interview, Julia Fox was spotted several times wearing outfits and hairdos similar to Kim Kardashian, almost entirely dressed in black form-fitting pieces by Balenciaga. The rumor had it that Kanye West had bought them in the same size as his ex-wife to give his buxom new bride a makeover. What a surprise, since up until then, Ye seemed unable to get over his breakup with the reality TV star, begging for her to come back during his live performances and interviews with the media, and buying a house opposite her own.


Under these circumstances, it’s hard to know whether the romance between Julia Fox and Kanye West was sincere, or just a marketing campaign designed to get more and more public attention. The two stars split up just a month after their relationship started and now seem to be on very bad terms. Since then, the actress has made some disturbing revelations. In her autobiographical book, Down the Drain, published on October 10th, 2023, she claimed to have been used like a puppet and went even further in interviews to promote her memoirs stating that she never had any sexual relationship with Kanye West, their affair being of a different kind.


Down the Drain (2023) by Julia Fox, published by Fourth Estate / Simon & Schuster.

A promising hyperpop singer, close to Charli XCX


Last February, Julia Fox caused a stir as she took the mic and sang during Charli XCX’s Boiler Room set. This month, she keeps making her way in the music world with her disarming charisma and hypnotic voice. The audience has seen her (again) in the music video for Charli XCX’s 360, alongside Gabbriette and Chloë Sevigny. More importantly, she released her first single, Down the Drain, based on the same themes explored in her biography of the same name. Released on May 3rd, the underground mini hit seduces us with its suggestive, feminist lyrics – “I’m a b*tch, I’m a girl, I’m a mother, I’m a wh*re” – and its heady hyperpop melody, which she co-produced. We can’t wait to hear a full album from the world’s punkiest it-girl.


Down The Drain (2024) by Julia Fox, available now.


Traduction Emma Naroumbo Armaing