Style Icons: Ain’t no party like a bad girl party

Over the course of history, there have been countless women who’ve been given the title of style icon. Which is no easy achievement. However, for those who didn’t fit the general mold of what a stylist woman should be, there was little room to shine. Sure, there has always been an abundance of Audrey Hepburns, Grace Kellys, and Beyoncés when it comes to style icons. But what about the women who didn’t and don’t fit the mold? What about those who built their entire careers on being everything society said they shouldn’t be? It’s time that the world acknowledges the impact these women had on the fashion world and how their contributions to style have remained as staples until this very day.

Courtney Love

Babydoll dresses, lace, knee-highs, tiaras, and Mary Janes were once associated with an ultra-feminine way of dressing. It was soft, delicate, and carried an almost unbearable childish fragility that made each piece look completely inappropriate and comedic on a grown woman. However, something happened in the early ’90s. Women began to adopt hyper-feminine clothing and injecting a shot of feminist bad-assery by taking something traditionally feminine and accessorizing the look with pure punk edge. Hole front woman Courtney Love may not have invented the kinderwhore trend, but she sure as hell made it the go-to uniform for every riot girl whose voice wouldn’t be silenced because she was a frontwoman and not a frontman.

Debbie Harry

During the late ’70s and early ’80s, women’s fashion was defined by big hair, palazzo pants, sequins, platforms, and anything that brought a glitzy amount of excess to the stage. Yet, some women skipped all of the glitz and glamour and sought out clothing that expressed notions of rock and roll rebellion. Debbie Harry’s career as the frontwoman of Blondie embodied just that. She opted to skip out on the bell bottoms and sequined jumpsuits and carved out a niche for herself and many other women by wearing clothing that carried simplicity but a hard rock edge that helped break the homogeneous style trends of the time.

Grace Jones

During the ’80s, before Lady Gaga and Britney Spears could even walk, Grace Jones defined what it was to be a larger-than-life pop icon. Her looks were daring, avant-garde, and always had an air of raw feminine sexuality. In an era when women either had the choice to branch off into Sunset Boulevard, glam metal chic, Dynasty power suit moments, or Madonna inspired pop princess outfits. Grace came in and redefined what it was to be a fashionable woman in ’80s — especially what it meant to be a black woman  in the ’80s. Instead of integrating into the molds created by white pop stars, Grace made it desirable for women of colour to branch out and define their own style in a way that hadn’t been entirely acceptable before.

Paris Hilton

The mid-2000s was a defining time in any millennial’s life. It was the era of super low-rise jeans, t-shirts with witty sayings on them, handkerchief cut skirts, and dresses — the list goes on and on. There were many celebrities who managed to embody the mid-2000s queen bee look. But no one else perfected the look quite like reality tv queen bee Paris Hilton. The heiress turned her familial fame into an empire that allowed her to sell everything from shoes to makeup. But not before distilling the perfect formula for it girl dressing: multi strap sandals, glittery chain mail dresses, jarring colours and pleated mini skirts, and halter tops were all fair game (and basically required) for any woman who wanted to be fashion forward.

Siouxsie Sioux

What most people imagine a goth to look like has changed drastically over the years. Nowadays, goth kids generally wear huge platform boots, long black hair, leather, and Victorian-esque clothing that would resemble something out of an Anne Rice novel. However, many millennials have no idea where the real goth aesthetics comes from. Rather than channelling the wardrobe from The Matrix, ’80s goth kids had Siouxsie Sioux to get style tips from. With her signature black eyeshadow, razor cut hair, and ruby red lips, Siouxsie became the blueprint for every woman who wanted to delve into the world of goth. Goth back then wasn’t about vampires and shock value. It was about ambience, mood, and a distinctive knack for wanting your exterior to mirror interior. Siouxsie Sioux paved the way for goth women around the world to create their own persona bathed in black.

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Whom would you invite to a dinner party?

Art work by Michelle Cheung for Novella Magazine

You’re having a dinner party or you’re invited to one or you’re just at the right place at the right time and a perfunctory dinner extends into a leisurely span of sitting and talking or into a bass-heavy dancing and occasional nibbling: Whom — I think whom is right — would you want to be with? Yes, yes, family, friends, partners, etc. But fantasize a little. Which celebrity, writer, director, president? I’m sure everyone’s at one point imagined having dinner — and post-dinner activities that may lead to breakfast — with their middle school celebrity crushes. Even now, you only need a bit of prompt to fall into that rabbit hole of fantasy. Here are Novella’s choices.

Kimberley, Contributor

It’s not a hard answer really — who would you want to spend a leisurely evening with, basked in moonlight and the flickering of a single candle on your beautifully decorated table? For me, it would be a literal dream, (and I’m saying this literally because I have had this dream many times) to spend an evening, sharing a meal with Frank Ocean. Ever since 2011, when Frank dropped his first mixtape, Nostalgia Ultra, I immediately became a super fan. Who wouldn’t want to know what goes on in his mind? The opportunity to spend a night, picking his brain — or listening to anything he would want to say — is something that I wouldn’t be able to pass up on. Frank’s lyrics are beautifully written, and combined with the soft velvet of his voice, he creates an aura of mystery that one can’t help wanting to unravel.

Adina Heisler, Contributor

Ok, I’ll admit it, I’ve become a cable news junkie. I used to be totally uninterested in it (back in the more innocent time of two years ago), but that was before we entered the upside-down of politics and “covfefe”. I’ll be the first to admit they can get a little sensational and sometimes spend more time debating tweets or obvious facts, but when you cut out the noise and the partisan-ness, you can find some actual journalism. So I’d invite Jake Tapper (I’m just a tiny bit obsessed with him), Chris HayesRachel MaddowLester Holt, and Anderson Cooper. I’d probably be a little too intimidated to say much, but honestly I’d be happy enough just to listen to the five of them talk. If I did ever pluck up the courage to talk to them, I’d probably ask if they could give me some advice or encouragement to me, since I’m hoping to be a journalist some day.

Drew Brown, Editor-in Chief 

Besides great food, dinner conversation is key, so having the right mix of people at a dinner party can make or break your event. I have been in love with Grace Jones since she first asked us to pull up to her bumper. After reading her book I’ll never write my Memoirs, my love for Grace Jones grew even more. Not only would she have plenty of stories to tell, but I might be able to convince her to sing after a few bottles of wine.

I would also add Diane von Furstenberg, who I think is the epitome of style and grace. Diane would also have great stories about her life, fashion, and, of course, Studio 54. Both Titus Burgess and Andre Leon Tally would have all of us in stitches, and I would love to pick the brain of Grace Coddington, whom I adore.

Natasha Grodzinski, Contributor

Sade. Photo source.

It has been a long-standing dream of mine to host a dinner party with famous folks in attendance, so you can bet I’ve given this some thought before. To start with, I’d need to invite my ladies Georgia O’Keefe  and Frida Kahlo. Both were fantastically talented artists and fiercely independent women. I would love the opportunity just to hear them speak and share ideas. Obviously I would need to invite Jane Birkin simply because she’s everything and I’ve got a feeling she would know which wine to bring. There’s no way I wouldn’t invite Trevor Noah who 1) I love and 2) is absolutely brilliant. My final, and very coveted, invitation would probably have to go to Sade Adu, an unbelievably beautiful and talented woman. Would this be the wildest dinner party? Probably not, but I think some fascinating conversations could come out of it.

Hoon, Managing Editor

Erika Weihs, Virginia Eggleston, Grace Paley, Molly Wilson, and Sybil Claiborne at the weekly Greenwich Village Peace Center vigil. Photo by Ruth Sondak, sourced from War Resisters League.

Party of five, Robert B. SilversElizabeth HardwickLore SegalGrace Paley, and yours truly, at hardwood tables and comfortable booth kind of a bistro, well lit enough to read the menu but dim enough to be unselfconscious. Talk about politics and books with plates of porterhouse, salad, and cheese going cold and limp late into the night. Talk about food. Talk about sex and New Jersey. Talk about gentrification. Talk about newspapers. Talk about music and movies. Talk about Hollywood. Grace (Paley) might want to make posters. I might need Kleenex from tears. Elizabeth (Hardwick) might want another glass of wine. Robert (B. Silvers) might need a cigarette, might want to go out on a boat. Lore (Segal) might take notes. Talk about traveling. Talk shit about neighbors. Talk shit about writers. Talk shit about readers. The fun stuff. That’d be nice, getting to befriend some of my favorite writers and editors, all of them, except Lore (thank God), dead. They would still have things to say.

Claire Ball, Contributor

In all honesty, I have never thought about who I would invite to my dream dinner party before, so trying to make a decision and think about this question was difficult for me. My invitees are fairly predictable, especially if you know me, and not very under the radar. Let’s just say my dinner party would very much be a ridiculous A-list affair. To start, I think I would absolutely have to invite my number one crushes, Jennifer Lawrence, and Jake Gyllenhaal. I think Jennifer and Jake would both be super cool, down to earth people to have at a dinner party. I think they’re great actors. I also find Jennifer hilarious because we share the same sense of humour. She is basically my spirit animal.

I would also invite Chelsea Handler because I love how brash and honest she is about everything she talks about, and Ellen Degeneres (I don’t feel the need to explain why). I am also a not-so-low-key Harry Styles fan so I would obviously have to throw him an invite and, ideally, the cast of Game of Thrones would be fun.

Chris Zaghi, Fashion Editor

From left to right: Her Majesty, The Queen of France, Marie Antoinette, Leigh Bowery, Naomi Campbell, The Divine David, and Isabela Blow

Just try to imagine this scenario with me: A majestic set of wrought iron gates open up to a winding gravel road; the driveway is lined with nothing but cherry blossom trees; the wind blows them past your car as you drive up to a gorgeous manor tucked away amidst giant oaks and elms; the staircase leading up to the entrance seems to get longer and higher as you walk up; the doors lead to a gilded hallway covered in portraits of royalty; you come to a set of large mirrored doors and the doors swing open and reveal a beautiful room, gold leafing on the walls, pastel pinks and blues are woven throughout, Baccarat crystal chandeliers bathe it in light; as your eyes focus, you notice a beautiful round antique mirror table with 6 people sitting around it; there are cakes and pastries scattered across its surface, champagne bottles pop in a continuous rhythm; the riotous laughing and cheering is almost contagious, but you dare not interrupt the party you’ve just stumbled into. You focus on the guests. You quickly notice me, proposing a toast to my 5 extraordinary guests. Beside me, Marie Antoinette yells “Let us eat cake!” as she stuffs a kiwi tart in her mouth. Across from her, Naomi Campbell calmly says “I can tell you’ve had your fair share already.” And the table bursts into laughter. Beside her, Isabella Blow sends a text message to her pal McQueen — “you‘re missing out darling!” while Leigh Bowery does his best impression of Sasha Velour’s “art-drag” shtick. The room once again breaks into laughter, but something catches the Divine Davids eye. He tilts his head in confusion and says “Well, that’s not very lovely…” We all turn to look at you, standing there, silently watching this marvelous kiki unfold. Congratulations. You’ve just ruined our night.

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Spotlight on Ari Fitz

Illustration by Andrea Vahrusev

Text: Andrea Vahrusev

Gender roles and adapting to fit into the category of either feminine or masculine is a way that most societies organize people. However, as times evolve so does the belief in stereotypical gender norms, allowing people to be different and break free from binary constraints.

Androgyny can be defined as a person who is physically and/or mentally gender ambiguous, meaning they can be viewed as attributing both masculine and feminine characteristics. Fashion, over time, could be viewed as the first industry to accept androgyny and use it as an art form. Influential people who could be seen as androgynous figures include David Bowie and Grace Jones as well as models like Andreja Pejic.

Although fashion can be praised for embracing gender and art, there are restrictions that make models attempt to fit into being either feminine or masculine. An up and coming model of the millennial time, Ari Fitz, is an example of someone embracing androgyny to its fullest.

Ari is currently a model as well as a successful YouTuber. Her first channel, Ari Fitz, is filled with personal experiences and stories. Ari’s second channel, Tomboyish, focuses on living a tom boy life through style.

On her self-titled channel, Ari tells stories of her experiences as a model, such as attempting to fit in at castings with the rest of the female models. After rejection and self-exploration, Ari was able to freelance wherein she called the shots in her own life. This allowed her to steer away from conformity and be fluid.

Tomboyish, on the other hand, focuses on lifestyle, culture, and personal fashion for people who enjoy masculine streetwear. Ari works on styling her friends and creating looks based off one brand as well as styling certain pieces in a wardrobe. She applies both her fashion background and androgyny to aid others in finding a look and life for themselves.

One of many speakers on androgyny, Ari Fitz is an influential role model among many others. There are currently many figures for people to look up to alongside Ari. Androgyny should not be considered a trend but a personal way of life.

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Chris Levine : Light & Meditation

Profile Picture

It’s hard to describe a renowned artist like Chris Levine in just a few lines. Even picking only some of his greatest works is a tough task, simply, because everything he does is an absolute masterpiece.

Last November I got the chance to see some of his pieces showcased at Izzy Gallery in Yorkville, Toronto in the exhibition called ‘The Edge Of Time‘ that ran from October 22nd till November 28th. I also had the pleasure to talk and meet in person Izzy, the owner of this small yet exclusive art gallery, who gave me more detailed information about Chris Levine and his impressive career as an artist.

It is almost impossible to beat Levine’s technique when it comes to innovation since he is a pioneer in the field of light art. He has deeply explored the properties of laser light in order to create expansive visual sensations through his work.

Incorporating numerous mediums (laser, photography, holograms) across multiple platforms including music, performance, installation, fashion and design, his creativity is manifested in a multitude of projects.

Dalai Lama
Dalai Lama

From his daily practice of meditation, Chris sees the visual language as a ‘shortcut’ to get in touch to our own spirituality, and that is why he takes that mantra as an ultimate responsibility for any artist.

Besides showcasing in the most relevant museums and art galleries all over the world, he has worked with people you may have heard of before such as Philip Treacy, Grace Jones, Cartier, Stella McCartney and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II who personally asked him for a portrait.

These are a few questions that I sent to Chris to introduce his amazing talent to all the Novella readers.

Celia Fernandez: How did you feel when you were asked you to do a portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II? Did you feel a bigger responsibility?

Chris Levine: I was quite relaxed about it all until about two weeks away from the shoot date at Buckingham Palace. Ultimately, I felt a huge responsibility to the Queen and the people of Jersey to create an artwork worthy of the history and the commission. It got daunting if I considered it so I tried not to.

Lightness Of Being

C.F: They say that “Eyes are windows to the soul”. Do you think the visual language is a ‘shortcut’ to get in touch to our own spirituality?

C.L: 100%. In my work I’m reaching beyond the physical and into spirit.

C.F: Your work is definitely beyond the visuals, it’s more about energy and feelings. Have you always had this approach, or is this something that you incorporated after you started your meditation practice?

C.L: The sense of everything being energy and all contained in the present moment, it is the essence of my work. To bring people but, momentarily, into a sense of connectedness and the expended awareness that comes about. Increasingly the work is informed and becomes clear in meditation.

Kate's Light (Pure)
Kate’s Light

C.F: Through your work you encourage people to appreciate and be aware of the present – the pure essence of life. The world would be a better place…

C.L: If the world meditated there would be no wars and more happiness on the planet. In my humble way I’ll try, in the course of time, to bring more people to the practice. If we were be able to reach that state of mind. How can art help fighting all the hostility and fear that certain people are trying to spread? I think if art can bring people closer to their heart, then no fear can touch them in that moment. It’s a good refuge from all that is being spread, as you say.

C.F: What is your ultimate goal as an artist?

C.L: To bring more peace and insight to humanity and making the world a lighter place – literally.

CL_Grace Jones_Stillness_300 ppi_02
Grace Jones. Stillness

All the photos feature pieces showcased in ‘The Edge Of Time’ exhibition and are courtesy of Izzy Gallery.