it girl

Why John Yuyi Considers Herself an Unconventional ‘It’ Girl

Photo-Illustration: by The Cut; Photo: JOHN YUYI

John Yuyi may no longer have striking blue hair, but the Taiwanese visual artist has come a long way from her first viral campaign with Gucci in 2017: Today, her commercial photography is being represented by the agency Mini Title; she just wrote a book, In Memory Of ; and some of her most recent work includes shooting Kiko Mizuhara for Kiko Kostadinov’s latest collaboration with Heaven and Asics.

Below, the Cut chatted with Yuyi about her style, her inspirations, and more.

What is an “It” girl to you?
I feel like a lot of the people I surround myself with are “It” girls. “It” girls are somebody who has created a unique universe that inspires older or younger people to create their own universe. What you see might just be on the surface, but they have something deeper they are willing to explore and share.

Do you consider yourself an “It” girl?
Not anymore.

Why? Once an “It” girl, always an “It” girl.
I used to have a very performative persona in front of the cameras. I even had blue hair! It was as if I was telling people to remember me, to look at me. Now you can tell my fashion style has changed, obviously.

Was the change gradual?
It all started seven years ago with the Gucci campaign. Back then, I felt the pressure to hang out with a friend; I still had to remember to take photos and remember to be happy. It made me feel like I had to be performing all the time. It was too much stress. I still want to make a living, but now I do all that when I choose to do it. On my own terms.

Okay, so that was your influencer “It” girl persona. What would you call your current “It” girl phase?
An unconventional “It” girl.

How would you describe your style now?
I’ve been nomadic for one year and eight months, so that’s one of the reasons I can’t really dress how I did before. I used to have two suitcases with me; now I just have one suitcase. Plus, I’m not doing a lot of events like I did before. I just want to be smart with my clothes.

When I’m in New York, I love wearing UGGs, but in Paris, I love wearing boots and heels.

Your style fluctuates depending on where you are geographically?
Yes. When I’m in London, I love going to those punk skater stores, and I get tons of pieces covered in badges. I’m not an actress, but I do believe you will feel different depending on what you wear, and that makes me happy.

As long as you always feel true to yourself, that’s what matters.

Who are some artists you’ve always looked up to or who have inspired your style?
The “It” girls of photography: Nadia Lee Cohen and Petra Collins. They really create their own universes.

When you go out, where do you hang?
I like to go to parks. Seward Park on the Lower East Side, but I prefer more conventional New York City parks like Washington Square Park or Central Park.

What are your essentials?
I love lip balm. And it’s not just because lip balm is good for your lips, but because when you’re applying it, you look and feel good. Like this!

This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.

Why John Yuyi Considers Herself a Conventional ‘It’ Girl