Imagine a place where hot pink sand dunes undulate under a surreal sky and BLACKPINK hits play on repeat in the background. In a rare interview with Jennie, she takes us on a trip to a unique place. And this is where we touched down: the Jennieverse. Wearing Chanel’s 2022- 23 Métiers d’art collection, which was inspired by Dakar in Senegal, our cover star is perhaps the perfect example of what travel—both in the digital and physical sense—can mean in 2023.
With her dimpled smile and kittenish demeanour, Jennie, whose full name is Jennie Kim, is the blueprint for a new kind of global megastar. Growing up in New Zealand and Seoul, she might still be labelled a K-pop singer, but her influence can hardly be contained to one nation. The first South Korean female artist to perform solo at Coachella in 2019 (with her aptly named song ‘Solo’), she’s now making her mark in Hollywood with an acting debut in Sam Levinson’s grittily glamorous series The Idol, co-starring Lily-Rose Depp and Abel Tesfaye.
For the 27-year-old, her fame is like inhabiting two different worlds simultaneously. “Jennie onstage is charismatic and powerful, but offstage I’m just a normal, shy girl,” she shares. Still, with 80 million followers on Instagram (that’s more than the entire population of South Korea) and legions of BLACKPINK fans—known as Blinks— following her every move, staying down to Earth can’t be easy. Search her name on TikTok and you’ll be met with a wall of fan-created Jennie content, from clips admiring her dynamic choreography onstage to memes fawning over her famous grin.
What does it mean to her to have the kind of following that borders on—and often surpasses—obsession? And how can an icon possibly live up to the hype? For Jennie, it’s a matter of clear-headedness. “[An icon is] someone who has their own opinions and thoughts,” she says. “To be called an icon, you need to have the ability to question people with your own views and perspectives, rather than just giving the answer that everyone accepts or the story that everyone likes.”
Now in her seventh year in BLACKPINK alongside bandmates Lisa, Jisoo and Rosé, she’s experienced enough to know how the game works. The best advice she has for aspiring artists? Be confident with the path you’ve chosen and maintain that fierce, Jennie-style determination. “If you believe in yourself more than anyone else and work hard, you will make things happen one way or another,” she reflects. “A positive mindset is key and filling your mind with positive thoughts can help you stay motivated. If you focus on this and look for solutions, you’ll find tough situations easier to overcome.”
Then there’s her viral style, which she succinctly describes as “natural and casual”, and which oscillates between thigh-high skirts, tie-up cardigans and T-shirts with beaten-up jeans. Her everyday look might resemble that of a chameleon, but her favourite brand remains steady: Chanel. It’s significant that Jennie was the last person to be handpicked by the late Karl Lagerfeld as a global Chanel ambassador. She wore a vintage Chanel dress from 1990 to her first Met Gala earlier this year, which serves as another mark of her increasingly international reach.
“When you’re in a new place, the unfamiliarity of your surroundings can be overwhelming, so it’s helpful to make your environment as much like your home as possible.”
Being constantly on the road means she’s developed a fail-safe packing list when flying. “[I take] a pillow, a sleeping mask and an iPad,” she says. “And I always carry a lip balm with me because my lips are often chapped.” Over the years, she’s found the best way to stay comfortable while traveling is to bring a small piece of home with her on the journey. “When you’re in a new place, the unfamiliarity of your surroundings can be overwhelming, so it’s helpful to make your environment as much like your home and your room as possible. My tip is to bring your own pillow, pyjamas and aromatic oils to help you relax.”
When she gets some time off, she spends it in recharge mode. “I’m most comfortable when I’m lying in bed on my day off and not thinking about anything,” she says. Then, of course, there’s the all-important voice care. “My routine before a big concert is to turn on the humidifier and drink a lot of warm water before going to bed. A healthy mind comes from a healthy body. If you get enough rest, eat well and exercise hard, your body and mind will follow.”
Back home in Seoul, one of Jennie’s must-visit spots is Namsan Mountain, which serves as the perfect location to gaze out at the Han River. “If I had to pick one place in Seoul, it’s there, for the wonderful night view,” she says. Outside South Korea, the places on her travel wish list include Amsterdam (“It reminds me of the time I spent with my band members during the tour. It’s an interesting city.”) and Africa, where she dreams of going on safari. “I have never been, but I love animals,” she gushes.
“Every moment is precious, but the most memorable moments are standing onstage and meeting Blinks from around the world whom I haven’t seen for a long time.”
For the moment, Jennie’s plan is to continue zipping around the world, finishing up with press for The Idol before continuing to the next stop on BLACKPINK’s second world tour. “Right now, the first thing to do is to finish the rest of the world tour safely, without any major problems,” she says. “Every moment is precious, but the most memorable moments are standing onstage and meeting Blinks from around the world whom I haven’t seen for a long time.” Until then, you can catch her in the Jennieverse.
Jennie wears Chanel 2022/2023 Métiers d’art clothes, shoes and accessories throughout.
Photography Jang Hyun Hong
Styling Min Hee Park
Hair Il Joong Lee
Make-up Joyeon Won
Manicure Eun Kyung Park
Set design Da:rak
Production ChangsooPark/Like Studio
Artist and creative communication Lee Kyung Kim/BL Creative House
Art direction Tomoyuki Yonezu
Head of editorial content Tiffany Godoy
Editors Emi Kameoka, Yui Sugiyama and Masayo Ugawa
Order your copy of the July/August ‘Reverie’ issue of Vogue Singapore online or pick it up on newsstands on 14 July 2023.