When a girl walks into a room with a shock of pink hair, she’s hard to ignore. When said girl happens to be model-slim and dressed like an anime character, looking away becomes impossible.
Such is the case for Fernanda Ly, the 20-year-old Chinese-Australian head-turner who, in the past year, has become one of the fashion industry’s most talked-about faces.
Her distinctive pastel mane has graced the pages of the American, British, Italian, Japanese and Australian editions of Vogue, as well as indie fashion titles such as Dazed, i-D, Love and Self-Service.
But when it comes to the runway and campaign bona fides, Ly only has only one name to her credit.
“I guess you could say I’m the Louis Vuitton girl right now,” she says, laughing. “The last collection was sort of inspired by me, which sounds weird!”
Louis Vuitton’s creative director Nicolas Ghesquière has kept her off limits to other designers for the past two seasons, booking her exclusively for his his Autumn-Winter 2016 and Spring-Summer 2016 shows and campaigns, a major coup for any model.
And indeed, the last collection, a blend of futurism, anime and bright pink accents, does seem very Fernanda Ly. The bubbly Sydneysider has spoken openly about her love of manga, arcade games, and all things Japanese. In the accompanying ads, she dons a pink leather jacket and Sailor Moon tiara like it’s her uniform.
“Nicolas was really interested anyway in Japanese culture and architecture, and I think it shows in the structure of the clothes and the materials he uses,” Ly says. “It’s a happy coincidence.”
Architecture is one of their unexpected mutual interests. A massive fan of Gothic grandeur and Japanese minimalism (she counts Pritzker Prize-winner Tadao Ando as a role model), Ly was an architecture student at Sydney’s University of Technology until September 2014, when she took a leave of absence to focus on modeling.
“The bachelor’s that I’m doing is in interior architecture, but it also has to do with exteriors, spacial design and landscape design. I’m interested in how people interact with a space, the idea of architecture as social commentary, and how the total effect can change when you alter one concept,” she says. “And out of all of the artistic sort of studies, it’s the most acceptable by my parents.”
While she intends to resume her studies at some point, Ly is currently enjoying the opportunity to learn about another art form.
“Every creative art is about the same thing, which is the person that uses the product that you make. So in that way, clothing and fashion, buildings and architecture, they come hand in hand.”
This article was first published on CNN STYLE. Images: Hadar Pitchon