Runway Models Are Celebrity Style Icons Too

I’ve looked at style from stars like Charlize Theron, Jennifer Lopez, Kim Kardashian, and Julianne Moore.  We crave their style because they’re so good at looking glamorous, casual in a stylish way, and even risk-taking at times, should the situation call for it. But while these A-listers are fashion mavens, I’m kind of tired of the same old, same old. Who cares how often Charlize Theron wears Dior, or how many times Julianne Moore wears Lanvin? Gone are the days when it means something to me to see Moore change it up from Alber Elbaz’s brand to Chanel.
Instead, I’m looking towards the style icons of the future.  The Elizabeth Olsens, Helen Mirrens, Carey Mulligans, and Chloe Moretzes, no matter how young (or old) they are. Recently, I’ve begun looking at a new crop of fashionistas who are saying something totally new and different (and have been doing so for some time, but I just never noticed.)
Models from Kate Moss to Coco Rocha are known for having their own personal style and showcasing it when they’re not on the runway. Recently, I’ve noticed more models who are doing the same. It’s true that they play a character on the runway—urbanizing their looks for Alexander Wang and romanticizing for Valentino and Dior.  But it’s what they are starting to say off the runway (through their fashions) that are really starting to mean something to me. And yes, they have a long way to go–these girls are no Sarah Jessica Parkers just yet—but they’re young and they seem to know all about fashion because they work in it all day long.  So it could just be a good idea to hear and see what they have to say about it.
Natasha Poly (Russian Model, 26)
“I hate it when they say that models are like mannequins, and not the people in the flesh.”
While it’s been said that Natasha Poly was part of a Russian revolution in modeling that saw the likes of Natalia Vodianova, Sasha Pivovarova and Milla Jovovich make it big, many of them are not so into the runway, like they used to be.  Fortunately for us, Natasha is still there and better than ever (she’s definitely a designer favorite.) Off the runway, though Poly likes to stroll around town in a different ensemble—something less blond Barbie girl and more straight and narrow—in that urban chic effortlessly cool way. She looks like she glossed her lips and walked out the door, yet she perfectly put together in stone wash jeans (those are Balenciaga with a zipper detail by the way), a cropped leather jacket, striped shirt, and print scarf, which looks very much like it has a Louis Vuitton monogram on it. In any case, she’s the whole package—a mix of high and low and oh, did we mention she makes mismatched prints work?
Isabeli Fontana (Brazilian Model, 28)
“I don’t think of myself as pretty. I am what I am.”
She may not be Alessandra Ambrosio, Gisele Bundchen, or Adriana Lima—three Brazilians who have made an impact in a different way and we have yet to see her consistently in a Victoria’s Secret fashion show, but Isabeli Fontana is known for other things—like being the face of Dolce & Gabbana and walking in a slew of fashion shows from Brazilian bikini labels like Cia Maritima to Milan ready-to-wear like Ermanno Scervino. So what is she wearing when it’s not bikinis, designer pencil skirts, or haute couture gowns? While from the looks of it, she likes to look urban chic in ankle boots, a leather skirt, and a tucked in tee, that looks like something off the American Apparel racks. But we’ve also seen her in lots of bright colors and prints on the street. Fontana seems to be making a name for herself in both the fashion world ON stage and off, especially in her own country and now, in the rest of the world, too.
Bianca Balti (Italian Model, 27)
“I feel like a princess!” 
There’s something so beautiful and unique about Ms. Bianca Balti that to be honest, I’m not sure why she’s not a famous actress yet. But modeling is the road this beauty has taken and its been working for her. While the versatile model can be seen in anything from a flowery Blumarine coat to a luxurious gown, it’s when the Italian model from Lodi goes hipster that really gets me gawking. Yes, Balti is one of those closet hipsters that stands out in the crowd because she wears lace peep toes and Dolce & Gabbana dresses but dates musicians—her current boyfriend is in a rock band.  When Dolce & Gabbana had a Boys in The Band event, Balti was there rockin’ out with the crowd wearing designer duds that looked dressed down.  And this picture, we like how the rockette wears her lace up combat boots with a print tee.
Arizona Muse (American Model, 23)
“You just have to be open to every possibility.” 
Arizona Muse sets herself apart from the crowd because she has a girl-next-door kind of look that seems to work in various ways from androgynous menswear-inspired pieces to tight-fitting studded gowns and long hair via Versace. The super popular American runway model made an impact as early as 19, 20 years old, she was named Vogue magazine’s Model of the Year for 2011, and already seems like a veteran in the industry though she’s only 23.  Muse’s style, as caught by the street fashion set, is one that is different from many of the models who spend their days in leather jackets and tight fitting acid wash jeans. Hailing from Santa Fe, New Mexico, she seems to have that desert boho chic thing going like a girl who was inadvertently plucked from her quiet hometown and placed in the busy hubbub of New York City.  Muse likes to wear scarves, and lots of them in many colors, a true asset to any boho girl.  She wraps herself up in them like a colorful peasant girl and wears cowboy hats, denim, and boots to match.  While it can be too much at times, unlike other models who are constantly seen wearing the freebies they get from top designers, we do like that she’s making an effort to keep her own personal style in tact.
—Simona Kogan
Photos: Natasha Poly,; Isabeli Fontana,; Bianca Balti,; Arizona Muse,
Image Layout: Amy Newling

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