Twenty-year-old Lily Nova has got the name, L-I-L-Y N-O-V-A, Miuccia Prada as a big fan and a look all her own complete with coveted curls of ginger and a button nose. A “dorky girl from Australia” until she went from Adelaide to international once Alessandro Michele’s Gucci sought her out for F/W ’16. Now you pass a news stand and you may just get a gleam of Miss Nova’s signature pre-Raphaelite-looking love. Fact is, photographers are always on high redhead alert (ahem Lily Cole, Karen Elson, fellow Adelaide redhead Madison Stubbington) just check out her people’s tab that boast names like David Sims, Glen Luchford, Tim Walker and Alasdair McLellan who take their model choices seriously. She may be a total dork, but she’s no joke.
@lilynova97 on Instagram for the curious and in real life we find out she’s a Scorpio, “My grandma is a psychic and she says I chose to be a Scorpio,” and happens to be friends with the witty and loquacious Rose Daniels (read her feature here). “Beating Rose in a race?” Lily asks, after admittedly being goaded, “That’s a guarantee. My dad has, and does, claim that I am incredibly fast. Someone, maybe my father, has called me “Lightening Lil” because that’s how fast I am. As fast as lightning. I have so much trouble slowing down on the runway, I’m honestly surprised my walk can even be seen by the naked human eye.” To be clear, Lily walks a normal pace on the runway.
Her origin story is that familiar flagged down anecdote, the–who me?–type of thing. “While watching a fashion show with my mum, my now mother agent waved me down from across the street. It took an awkward minute for me to realize she was gesturing at me. I get quite ‘existential crisis-y’ thinking about it sometimes. It was such a chance encounter that’s turned into a such a big part of my life,” she says. Back then, her ideas of being a model we’re still a bit vague, “I was a bit of a tomboy so the only things I really knew about modeling were the stereotypes that comedians joke about on the telly. It didn’t take long to see the artistic depths of modeling and the industry.”
Not long at all, and soon she was fully immersed in those depths shooting editorials for British Vogue, Love Magazine, Another Magazine, Pop Magazine, Self Service, i-D or walking her aforementioned career-starting Gucci show, or Marc Jacobs and Miu Miu. Both Charlotte Stockdale and Katie Grand named her in their Top Newcomer picks from F/W 2017 and Miuccia went ahead and included Lily in 3 Miu Miu campaigns since. “I have so many favorite memories from the first ever Miu Miu campaign I did. There was one day when we were shooting in the preservation hall with a real jazz band. The music was bone vibratingly loud and infectiously good. Adwoa and Kesewa Aboah were being filmed dancing and everyone was grinning and laughing so much and it was such a joy filled day. Like something from a movie.” She also mentions Tim Walker, whom with she has shot with twice, “His creative process is so fascinating and his ability to create little worlds within his shoots in really inspiring.”
On paper Lily delivers and she does in person too, delightfully, in her own Lily-sort-of-way. “I think my first impression I have with people is probably “why is she making is she making noises instead of using words?”. The last impression? “Hopefully just ‘awkwardly nice’. Modeling has taught me that I can be much more confident than I ever thought I could be.” She admits, “I may still be shy, but now I know that I can string a sentence together at the very least. When I first started modeling as a 16-year-old I had to unlearn my go-to expression which was just to look incredibly sad. I don’t know why but every selfie I took on my computer webcam before 2013 I look very worried,” says Lily, “Thankfully I’ve grown out of that habit.”