04/16/2008 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Woman Of Style Faith-Ann Young: Counterculture Is Back

Produced, directed, and reported by Lesley M. M. Blume
Photography by Stephan Wuerth
Photo assistant: William Taylor

You can probably sense it: this spring is different from last spring.

Change is in the air, stronger than it's been in years.

Freshness and new direction have once again become national priorities. And in some circles, fashion is picking up on these cues.

Introducing our third Woman of Style, Faith-Ann Young, whose personal style embodies and mirrors the new national mood.

A free-wheeling music reporter and photographer for Monocle, Flavorpill, MOG, and Blender, Ms. Young at once evokes a 1960s and 70s free spirit -- and also the anarchism of the internet generation.

What both eras have in common: a disinclination to follow rules set by buttoned-up authority figures.

Fashion editors might do well to ask: is youthful counterculture staging a comeback? If Miss Young (a self-described "bohemian indie pixie") and her peers have any say in the matter, the primness of recent fashion cycles will soon be as relevant as the hoop skirt.

Miss Young represents part of an increasingly reactionary generation, one that is turning its back on certain Republican, materialistic values embodied by the Bush-Cheney war machine and a fashion industry that declares that $1000 pairs of shoes and $3000 handbags are the norm.

Eschewing this trendy ridiculousness, Miss Young is a modern-day Ali McGraw, who, like her iconic predecessor, turns found items into works of wearable art -- whether by turning old skirts into dresses or donning vintage bathrobes as silken overcoats. It is the height of irreverent resourcefulness.

Viva la Revolución.

Below, Miss Young talks about how Bjork is the ultimate style icon, what her ideal fashion magazine would look like, and how Vogue is missing the mood of the times.

Q: What are the biggest influences on your personal style?

A: As a music journalist and photographer, music is an obvious muse. In terms of personal style, I hearken back to the glory days of folk music, with Joan Baez, Dylan, Hendrix, and Jim Morrison as inspiration.

I was born a sea baby in Sydney, Australia and part of that barefoot beach lifestyle has always stayed with me. Since I am half-Japanese, a quarter French, a quarter German and grew up all over - Vancouver, DC, Tokyo and Paris - my influences are manifold.

Reoccurring themes? Gauguin in Tahiti, red-lipped geishas, 1970's Marrakech, and Frida Kahlo sans mustache. My style is very spontaneous: air-dry-and-go.

Q. Talk about the relationship between today's politics and the fashion of your peers.

A. People dress how they feel. In tandem with freedom fighters and war protesters in the 1960s, fashion transformed from bra-boosting to bra-burning.

My generation, "The Millenials," is redefining the world as we know it. For example, my friend Justin Hakuta has been studying human trafficking in Philippines and blogging about it. On the political front, Jon Favreau, who is 26 years old, serves as Obama's chief speechwriter. My generation also constitutes majority of the troops in Iraq.

In tandem, my generation's clothes reflect our resourcefulness, lack of inhibition, and informality: if we want to wear day-glo, we wear day-glo; if we want to wear rags, we wear rags. Certainly, what I wear reflects my generation's laissez faire and spontaneity as well. I probably wouldn't have lasted long in the corset generation.

Q: Describe the fashion magazine that you would found and edit.

A: It would have the avant-garde feel of Dazed & Confused, the social/international reportage of Monocle Magazine, the baudiness of Anaïs Nin's diary, and the interactive online elements of YouTube and Facebook.

The theme would be a different city around the world each time. Fashion-wise, I'd mix couture with (gasp) small boutique designers from around the world, low-cost gear, and real vintage finds.

I'd have war photographers, an international section, and a biography section. I'd allow nudity and pages ripped out of the diary of a stranger. And I'd put a soundtrack in CD form and online alongside it.

Off the top of my head, I would call the magazine CLIENT # 9.

Q: Let's play the word association game. Within the context of style, what's the first thing that comes to mind when I say:

... Vogue.

Debutantes and dalliances.

... Originality.


... Birkin bag.


... Inspiration.

The ocean.

Q: Which musicians embody true style to you?

A: The goddess currently known as Bjork. The Singer and bassist Shingai Shoniwa of the Noisettes of London. She's a Zimbabwean-Brit who wears peacock headdresses and a grand lightening bolt on her guitar strap. The waifish British ingénue Patrick Wolf, who wears more glitter than Bowie.

Q: Why should the modern woman care about style?

A: One dress can't buy sexiness, class, or charisma. Those all come from within. But fashion is a tool to further manifest one's spirit. Like photography, music, art, it's another means of expression - displaying one's aura, feminine wiles, and strength. I'm not kidding - I dress the color of my dreams.

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Women of Style is a serial Huffington Post feature that celebrates women of extraordinary, individualistic style that is undictated by trends. The women selected for this feature must have no formal affiliation with the fashion industry; nor can they have a personal stylist. The clothes and accessories are part of each subject's personal wardrobe, and cannot be provided by a designer or sittings editor.

Please visit our first two inspiring Women of Style features here.

The feature on Miss Young was shot on location in the Bridgehampton, Southhampton, and Wainscott by fashion photographer Stephan Wuerth.