New York Cover Shoot: Fernanda Ly

Australian Model Fernanda Ly New York Fashion Shoot

Photography by DARREN McDONALD

She’s the pink-haired Australian model who made global headlines on the Louis Vuitton runway. Despite having stolen a few shows since that first lofty moment in the spotlight, Fernanda Ly is undeniably grounded.

“Thinking back now, I really struggled – living out of my luggage, not knowing about all of the people I was meeting with, having no sense of direction or friends in the city. I was 19 years old and it was an extreme change of life plans.”

In the few years since then, things have changed remarkably for Fernanda Ly. The 22-year-old from Sydney’s west, who was scouted in her teens while walking through a shopping mall with her mother, has become “very comfortable with New York City. I have solid relationships here now,” she says. 

Australian Model Fernanda Ly New York Fashion Shoot

TOP: Proenza Schouler top, $1079, and skirt, $380. rag & bone boots, $869. Worn throughout, right hand, index finger: Gucci pink stone ring, $2140. Middle finger: Gucci gold lion ring, $2395. Left hand, middle finger: Gucci black stone ring, $2140. Ring finger: Sarah & Sebastian gold ring, $695. ABOVE: Viktoria & Woods coat, $800. Hansen & Gretel dress, $299. Gucci earrings, $2465.

It’s a great city to live in because nobody bothers you – you’re free to do whatever – and Europe is a short flight away.

Despite her head-turning debut on the Louis Vuitton runway – “my phone was exploding with articles and Instagram tags afterwards. I definitely did not know the weight a worldwide exclusive carried” – she relishes the anonymity of life in the Big Apple. On an average weekend, you’ll find her digging for vintage, cafe-hopping and, after dark, singing karaoke with her roommate.“Visiting jjimjilbang – Korean spa and sauna rooms – has become a new obsession. I recommend it!”

Australian Model Fernanda Ly New York Fashion Shoot

Zimmermann shirt, $495, and skirt, $450. Gucci pearl earring, $1130 (sold individually), and coloured stone earrings, $2000 (sold as pair).

Although she called time on her architecture degree at the University of Technology Sydney to pursue her burgeoning modelling career, Ly still finds inspiration in the man-made world:

I particularly like cathedrals and churches that leave you wondering how humanity created such structures hundreds of years ago. It’s awe-inspiring to see what we’re capable of.

Like one of her favourite architects, America’s Maya Lin, Ly is first-generation Chinese. She’s happily outspoken about the causes dear to her heart; in March last year, she penned an essay for Vogue Australia on racial dysphoria and the lack of Asian representation in the fashion industry, and spoke candidly to about her experience of on-set harassment.

Australian Model Fernanda Ly New York Fashion Shoot

Lee Mathews coat, $1400. Neuw Denim jeans, $179.95. rag & bone boots, $999.Gucci pearl earring, $1130 (sold individually), and coloured stone earrings, $2000 (sold as pair).

Nobody should feel like an outsider in our time. I hope people can begin accepting the existence of one another. I care about equal representation, and attaching my name [to the things I care about] adds that little bit of legitimacy, so I don’t feel shame in speaking up.

This is an excerpt. For the full story and more from Fernanda Ly’s photoshoot, buy a copy of the JONES Autumn 2019 issue online or pick it up in-store from 2 February.

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Hair: Adlena Dignam, Make-up: Sam Addington at Kramer + Kramer, Model: Fernanda at Priscillas