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Super Nova

16 Feb 2018

It’s hard not to get star-struck sitting down with someone like Nova Orchid. Shining just as bright as her celestial namesake, this Montreal model shot to sartorial stardom by rocking the runway for some of fashion’s foremost luminaries, like Chanel and Sonia Rykiel. But becoming a star on the style scene isn’t her only connection to things cosmic, as we found out when she stopped by Simons’ studio for our spring 2018 Icône shoot. From her career goals as a kid, to her favourite symbol, and even her stellar personal style,
it seems like all things Nova come with a sprinkling of stardust. 

What was your dream career as a child?

I was quite a nerd in school so for a while I wanted to be an astrophysicist.  And now it’s sort of led into more being an entrepreneur and, from the connections I make through modelling, starting up my own business in something—along those lines.

How did you get your start in modelling?

My dad's actually a photographer and filmmaker, so I grew up around his lenses. I thought of the idea of being a model but I never really pursued it until someone scouted me in Australia when I was 13 at a Christmas party.  They set up a meeting to be with IMG Australia. I signed with them when I was almost 14 and was still fully in school.  I've only been modelling full-time for a year since graduating.

Was it tough balancing school and modelling?

Definitely. It was really hard since I was such a perfectionist when it came to my schoolwork and I always wanted to be a top student. It meant a lot of extra work. I'd be doing my physics homework on the plane off to a job and finding ways to multitask. 

Could you tell us about your signature hairstyle?

Funny story—I had normal bangs for a while, and then one day, I ended up having a pair of scissors in my hand and started chopping away. I didn’t really know what I was doing but I was kind of really into how short I had cut my bangs almost by accident. I did have a bit of inspiration from Die Antwoord, the lead singer Yolandi Visser. I really like their music and I think she’s really cool.  I kind of saw a connection there through the haircut.  But it just kind of became part of my identity and I’ve only just started growing out my bangs after having them for four years. When I was 13 and I signed with IMG, I already had the bangs, so yeah—it just kind of caught on. But I do think it’s time just to change it up a bit and be a little more versatile.

If you had to describe your personality to somebody that you just met in about 3 words,
what would you say?

Can it be a symbol? I think my personality is a little bit like a lightning bolt. I actually have a tattoo of it. It’s been a fave symbol of mine for a really long time and I like how it has lots of power, it’s from outer space, which I’m really into, lots of light, it’s really direct… Everything about it, I’m into. I’m definitely quite a bubbly person.  I laugh a lot. 

Who inspires you? The person doesn’t necessarily have to be involved in fashion.

Two people: Rihanna, first of all, because she’s just totally fearless, a total babe, and she’s really a pioneer of the future, especially with what she’s done with her makeup line where she’s created foundation for every single skin type. I think it’s amazing. I was actually thinking yesterday about how she should do the same thing with nude lipsticks. A lot of the time with lingerie or with nude lipstick, they say skin colour, and it’s always just white skin colour,
but they should be creating one for every skin tone.

And another one is Rowan Blanchard. She’s 16 and an activist, actress, and just so amazing.
The way she’s standing up for big important issues around the world at such a young age, with so much power and courage behind her words, I think is really awesome.

How would you describe your personal style?

I think it’s a mix between new world and future world, like the 1940’s and 50’s with the 2100’s. It’s a lot of classic pieces and a few high-end designs mixed in with your regular casual wear. I’m really into sparkles and silver, so it’s quite outer-spacey and futuristic too. 

What have been some highlights of your modelling career so far?

Nova: Seeing myself in Times Square for the Forever 21 campaign last spring was such a crazy moment. I was like “Holy cow, that’s me!” And then also walking the Chanel show was really, really beautiful. Karl is amazing and I’ve always looked up to that fashion house.
So that was cool.

Do you have a favourite runway look from any of the shows that you’ve walked?

I have no idea. It’s one of those things where after the moment’s over, like literally the second you’re off the runway, you’re like, “Wait, what just happened? What did I just do?”  So when people ask me, “Can you recap your fashion month?” I’m like, “What shows did I even walk?” It’s all such a blur. 

Do you get really stressed before walking out on the runway?

The first few times I was. My first show ever was for Sonia Rykiel, and no one had even taught me how to walk. I got the call that they wanted me in their show and I was like, “Oh, that’s so cool!” But then I realized I had no idea how to do a runway show. I was like “How do I walk? What am I supposed to do?” So that was quite a stressful moment before walking onto the runway. But now it’s totally fine. You get a nice jittery feeling, but it’s not like heart palpitations, like SOS.

Has the fact that you’re Canadian affected your modelling career in any way?

Every time I say I’m Canadian, everyone’s always like, “Your Prime Minister is so cute!” Because he is really attractive and he’s such a cool prime minister for Canada, like the fact that he’s into feminism and helping the First Nation communities. I’ve had a lot of remarks about how Canada is a really cool, safe country, and they’re very on top of the issues right now. With all the stuff that’s happening in the world, I’m very proud to be a Canadian.

What’s the best thing about living in Montreal or in Canada in general?

Nova: A big one is diversity. I moved from Sydney to Canada around 9 years ago, in a full-on blizzard in January.  Quite the difference from the beach and 40-degree weather. But the reason why we moved is because I really wanted to grow up in a more diverse, well-rounded, and interesting group of people. Immigration and the way that people have been integrated into the Canadian culture and society has been really, really great.
I think that’s a big one, for sure.