Novella Team Picks Personal Fashion Icons

Art work by Michelle Cheung for Novella Magazine


We all have one — that one person with amazing style and flare who you’d rather be than anyone else when you’re trying to get dressed; the icon you light a candle to for inspiration. Aspire as we might, we may never truly emulate their originality or defiance. Nevertheless, we keep them around because they are good to look at and think about — in a way, the north star of a sort. Here are Novella team members’ personal fashion icons. We love who we love, no judgments please.

Drew Brown, Editor-in-Chief 

Luis Borges has been a “friend in my head” ever since he first burst on the fashion scene with his big afro back in 2010. Yes, it’s hard for a model to not make look clothes since that is his job, but if you follow the model/digital influencer/father on Instagram then you know that Luis has a way of effortlessly mixing high and low fashion and with each outfit let his personality shine through. If I am ever in his native Portugal and we ever did meet, I would for sure want to raid his closet even though there is definitely a height difference but hey, that’s what a tailor is for 🙂

Hoon, Managing Editor

I once bought a pair of Wayfarers because I knew they were what Bob Dylan wore (hopefully still wears) —despite my secret wishes, nothing about me has become Dylan-esque as a result, yet. He is often photographed in a white shirt and a black blazer, which is also my go-to truly original and unique color combination (you should give it a try!). But there’s also The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan cover where he’s in blue jeans and a mustard jacket, a look, along with the songs, that promises better days, of finding oneself, after fun and trouble, home safe: “Well, ask me why I’m drunk all the time/ It levels my head and eases my mind/ I just walk along and stroll and sing/ I see better days and I do better things/ I catch dinosaurs, I make love to Elizabeth Taylor, catch hell from Richard Burton.” I like that promise. It’d be nice to emulate it somehow.

Natasha Grodzinski, Contributor

All images via Pinterest.

If we’re talking about the bohemian, ’70s-inspired, possibly-a-witch vibes that are back in trend with tons of young women, then we need to talk about Stevie Nicks, infamous rock-goddess extraordinaire and one of the best-known purveyors of this aesthetic. Of course she’s beautiful and mysterious now, but whenever I’m trying to replicate that kind of look for myself, I always draw inspiration from her 1970s wardrobe. The Rumors era, in particular, is a goldmine for style inspiration. Not only is she supremely talented, but she’s serving looks left and right. Stevie does the damn thing.

Christopher Zaghi, Fashion Editor

Being the former front-woman of one of the most important musical acts of the 2010s isn’t a feat easily achieved by many. But Alice Glass’s voice, raw fury when performing, and personal style stood alone amongst music’s greatest front-women. Since her beginnings among a Toronto drifter community, Alice has carved her own path. Recently, Alice released a self-titled EP that once again has me falling in love with the reigning queen of dark goth glamour. Her signature choppy hair, black leather, band shirt, and the subtle additions of fetish wear have created a unique blend of modern trend and old school goth that hasn’t been seen since the days of Garbage front-woman Shirley Manson and goth icon Siouxsie Sioux. Now that Alice has embarked on her new solo career, I’m looking forward to this new and exciting time in her personal style.

Kimberley Drapack, Contributor

All images via Pinterest

Cher is an icon. She has never been one to shy away from making bold choices in fashion or reinventing her image. Many have attempted to recreate her looks at a later date *cough* Kim Kardashian at the Met Gala in 2015 *cough*. With Cher’s career spanning over 50 years in the industry, time and again she has come forward with extravagant ensembles, decorated in sequins, feathers, and rhinestones. It is without a doubt that she has been a major inspiration for artists and designers over the years, creating an incredible palette to design any mood board after.

Michelle Cheung, Social Media Coordinator 

Margaret Zhang is a 24-year-old Chinese-Australian multidisciplinary law-school graduate, ballerina, model, blogger (of Shine by Three), photographer, creative director, stylist, Instagram star, writer, and fashion consultant. She’s worked with global brands including Vogue, Chanel, and Dior, to list a few. Her works are recognized as having impact on the international fashion industry and she’s been listed in Forbes Asia’s 30Under30. She’s also recently published her first book of photo essays. Her modern and eclectic style and her artistic photos/Instagram posts are among the few things I admire. She is the epitome of the ‘generation of slashers” and, as a decuple threat, she is a fashion icon to be reckoned with.

Adina Heisler, Contributor 

You probably recognize her as the badass assassin Arya Stark from Game of Thrones, but outside Westeros you can find Maisie Williams on other acting endeavors or hanging out with Sophie Turner, her fictional sister on the show and her real-life friend (they even have a ship name, mophie). And while Arya is decidedly uninterested in clothes and fashion, Maisie is known for her cool, simple style. I love that her style is never too crazy or excessive, but also never feels boring or understated. She uses lots of florals and prints, but mixes them with just enough punk to keep it from being too sweet.

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Icons of Style: Isabella Blow

Photo: David LaChapelle

This week’s Icon of Style is the glorious Isabella Blow. Born into an aristocratic London family as Isabella Delves Broughton, Blow was a fashion editor extraordinaire, as she lived and breathed the art of fashion in her every day. She walked in both the art and fashion worlds; she had equally close relationships with Andy Warhol, Jean Michel BasquaitAnna Wintour, and Andre Leon Talley. Her closest personal friendships were with two of fashion’s most brilliant minds: Philip Treacy and Alexander McQueen. It is thus perfectly fitting that Blow herself became a work of art through her style.

Though her life was filled with personal tragedy– beginning in her aristocratic childhood when her mother left with a handshake and her wealthy father later disowned her, and later struggles with fertility, cancer, depression, and suicide–she lived life with a vibrancy and uniqueness that has yet to be echoed. As Treacy said of his dear muse after her passing, “Nothing about her was tragic. She was triumphant.” Her memory lives on as someone who was a true spirit of fashion. While we cannot and will not be her copycat, we can take inspiration from her triumphant style.

“Women love clothes because they mean something to them – the day you met the man you love, the day you got married, what you did before you made love to somebody. It’s psychological and tied to the spirit of woman.”— Isabella Blow

Photo: Rex
Photo: Rex

Hold On To Your Hats

As muse to milliner Philip Treacy, Blow’s style was synonymous with her collection of exquisite headpieces. She famously stated, “Men love hats. They love it because it’s something they have to take off in order to fuck you.” Yet ever the mystery, she also said, “Fashion is a vampiric thing, it’s the hoover on your brain. That’s why I wear the hats, to keep everyone away from me. They say, ‘Oh, can I kiss you?’ I say, ‘No, thank you very much. That’s why I’ve worn the hat. Goodbye.’ I don’t want to be kissed by all and sundry. I want to be kissed by the people I love.”

Photo: Gauthier Gallet
Photo: Gauthier Gallet

Lipstick Loves

Blow’s love of lipstick was nearly as famous as her love of hats. She was never seen without it, and even made her assistants wear lipstick, claiming that she “simply can’t look at you without lipstick.” She even collaborated with MAC to create her own lipstick, called Blow. For Blow, wearing lipstick gave you a voice.

Photo: Vanity Fair

Finding A New Direction

Blow was most famous for her discovery and sequential friendship with Lee McQueen, known famously as his designer name Alexander McQueen. She bought his entire graduating collection from Central Saint Martins, and let him live in her Belgravia house, using it as his studio. Where some people might have initially thought him strange, she saw his vision and genius–something that has yet to be match since his passing. Her eye for beauty and brilliance was seen on her person every day. She would never be seen in anything low key; she’d wear heels and a hat to make spaghetti, an Alexander McQueen dress to the shops. She was honest in her style, whatever direction is pulled her.

Photo: Bill Cunningham/New York Times
Photo: Bill Cunningham/New York Times

A Rare Bird of Fashion

An obvious favourite of street style photographer Bill Cunningham, Blow was an absolute rare bird of fashion. Unafraid of wild colours, prints, fabrics, shapes, Blow added brilliance to every look. Her style icon? Anyone “who makes a bloody effort.”

Of course, Blow’s style cannot be copied–she wouldn’t want that. But we can take inspiration from her in a number of ways. For one, find your signature. For Blow it was her blunt bob, lipstick, a hat. Second, wear whatever you darn well please. Give a thought into your outfit, and what is it exactly you want it to say about you. In the same school of thought as Iris Apfel, just try.