Though Fernanda Ly’s inventive outfits have been well documented on Pinterest, Instagram, and in the pages of Vogue, the Aussie model and street style star doesn’t dress for the cameras. Rather, she has always dressed unapologetically for herself. And if that means the 22-year-old trendsetter with platinum blond bangs sometimes looks a little…different? All the better. “Well, my hair used to be pink,” she says from a makeup chair at Neiman Marcus' glistening new Hudson Yards flagship. “I don't really get self-conscious. Everyone else is probably more worried about what they're wearing, so I'm sure they don't have time for me.”
Her 284K Instagram followers would disagree: Ly’s authenticity and imagination are exactly what makes so many fans want to swipe a bit of her sartorial magic. “I really get into phases. Recently, I was like, ‘I want to look like a rich country farm girl who thinks she’s too good for the farm,’” Ly says, with a giggle. “Before that, I wanted to look like a witch. Years ago, it was the school boy.” Since Ly first asserted her style independence at the age of seven—telling her mother, “I’ll dress myself from now on!”—she’s never looked back. “I always knew what I wanted to wear,” she says. “I knew what I liked and what I didn't.”
Spring is the perfect season for a shape-shifter like Ly to indulge her quirks, mixing and matching disparate styles and silhouettes with inspired abandon. “If things look kind of weird together, I’m interested in that,” says Ly, boldly wearing a striped Maggie Marilyn top under a floral, citron track dress from Pam & Gela. An outfit consisting of Veronica Beard camo pants and a leopard print Anorak, which Ly nicknames her “mysterious safari” look, serves as an example of how to combine patterns without going overboard. “I try to keep the color family, at least, similar, she says. “Just so there’s a link that makes it look like they should be together, even though they really shouldn't.”
Ly’s preferences run the gamut from streamlined sportswear (like an Alice and Olive cut-out tee paired with Theory’s Utility Pull On Pants) to luxe pieces that effortlessly layer up and down, like a an MSGM floral top that she makes her own by topping it, almost ’80s-style, with a bustier-like blouse from ALC. “Day to day, I wear a lot of layers,” she says as she adjusts her look. “In the subways it’s either so hot or so cold, so I have to be prepared. You can do a lot with layers.” After a quick change, Ly emerges from the dressing room in another statement-making look. “I really like this jacket,” she says, approving of the futuristic vibe of a PSWL raincoat, which she pairs with a graphic tee, making it doubly fashion-forward.