On the Verge » Style Rules Don’t Apply to Fernanda Ly
Chloé dress, $3,995, Bergdorf Goodman, New York, 212.753.7300. 

Style Rules Don’t Apply to Fernanda Ly

The up-and-coming model talks about her famous pink hair, standing out in a crowd, and becoming an architect.

Ever since she walked at Louis Vuitton’s Fall 2015 ready to wear show in Paris, the Australian model Fernanda Ly has been all over the world—and the Internet. With her long, pink hair and gothic style, she stands out even in the noise of Tumblr and Instagram, where she’s gaining a rapid following for posting mirror photos that highlight her ever-fading, always rose-colored hair.

“I’m not allowed to change my color, actually,” Ly said, laughing at the restrictions of her newfound success. (Before becoming a model, she would change her hair color “every week.”) Fortunately, she’s not sick of talking about how exactly she maintains her Manic Panic look. Or not yet anyway. “I bleach it every four to six weeks, depending on how fast it grows,” she says. “I really need to do it now… Fortunately, I like the faded look.” Ly holds up a recently dyed extension next to her head. The color difference is obvious—one looks bottle fresh, the other is less so. But that’s part of Ly’s punk-meets-grunge personal style, and what makes her stand out from the model crowd.


Calvin Klein Collection dress, $3,295, Calvin Klein Collection, New York, 212.292.9000; Simone Rocha flats, $1,400, Dover Street Market New York, New York, 646.837.7750.

“My style is a bit goth,” she says. “It’s a bit weird modeling, and wearing girly, fluttery dresses that are all so pretty because I just wear black all the time.” Ly points to her current ensemble—a tight turtleneck, miniskirt, tights, and jumbo punk rubber platform boots. All black, of course. “Everyone’s always side-eying me,” she adds. “My look makes people uncomfortable.”

Fortunately, the fashion industry is not included in that category. After being discovered by an agent on the prowl in a shop in Australia (“They told me to send photos in, so I did when I was bored.”), Ly made a local appearance at Sydney Fashion Week. “I walked a few shows, but it was during my assessment period at school,” she said. “So I didn’t really do much.” Then, Louis Vuitton happened. “And everything’s opened up!”

Ly is even taking a break from university, where she’s studying architecture, to concentrate on modeling. “I’d rather focus on one thing than halfheartedly do two things,” she explained. “Modeling is something I can only do now, but architecture doesn’t have to be when you’re young. It’s a long career with a lot more school! I can always go back.” Next on her agenda is New York, London, Milan and Paris fashion week. “Hopefully I’ll be able to walk for a lot of designers,” Ly said, “But who knows. I might do nothing or do everything. I could just do one show and I’d be happy. I’m happy doing anything, really!”

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