The reel deal: 8 Instagram personalities who are breaking fashion boundaries

Ideas and inspiration that will sweep you off your feed.

From left: Model Adut Akech, singer-model Tsunaina and fashionista Loujain Adada.

The colourful, giant moodboard that is Instagram is a reservoir of inspiration. Get a handle (literally) on these stylish personalities who are making waves online.


Hannah Strafford-Taylor
(@hannahstraffordtaylor | UK)

It takes cute arm candy and little else for Strafford-Taylor to demonstrate that style has no age limits. Although she no longer models, her current pursuits as a content creator and an ambassador for Selfridges have inspired mothers everywhere with her effortless fashion sense. A self-professed handbag lover, she pairs her covetable collection with outfits that befit a free-spirited globe-trotter, whether it is a vacation to idyllic Maldives or a family excursion to the French countryside. The merits of a life of leisure are up for debate, but there is no harm in dressing the part.


(@dimda_ | Japan)

Very rarely does the word “delicious” come to mind when describing haute couture. Japanese food designer Daisuke has gone viral on multiple occasions for his innovative and quirky take on luxe goods, from a Bottega Veneta bag braided with spinach fettuccine and a tonkatsu imitation of Prada looking mouth-wateringly golden brown to a Louis Vuitton bubble tea drink holder that has garnered more than 17,000 likes on the ’Gram. In an interview with online magazine HIGHXTAR, Daisuke says he started upcycling vintage designer bags to customise them into one-of-a-kind fashion pieces as a way of recalibrating our idea of waste and taste.


Loujain Adada
(@loujainaj | Lebanon)

A mother, model and certified fashionista, Loujain, or LJ, has all the makings of a reality-TV personality. Except, she is actually one. The widow of Saudi billionaire Walid Juffali stars in Netflix’s binge-worthy Dubai Bling, which captures the pulse of the high life and ostentatious parties among the UAE’s socialites. Beyond the glitz, glam and drama, LJ’s sartorial sense has been much lauded by fashion bigwigs such as Saint Laurent, Versace and Fendi. Not all of us can afford such an ornate lifestyle but who’s stopping us from keeping up with the trends and dreaming the impossible?


Adut Akech
(@adutakech | Sudan)

Years ago, passersby on a quiet street in Adelaide, Australia, might have chanced upon a lone schoolgirl strutting back and forth on heels, testing out her own private runway. That same girl, who spent the first eight years of her childhood in Kenya’s Kakuma refugee camp, went on to walk for some of the biggest brands in the world, including Saint Laurent in an 18th-century Parisian abbey. Scouts pluck girls from obscurity and drop them into a rigorous life of international fame but also bullying. Akech, a diversity campaigner, ensures dark-skinned models after her get the representation and respect they deserve. “My name is beautiful and it’s what my family gave me. People are going to have to learn how to say it properly.”


(@tsunaina | Tibet)

Imagine a sensation felt by doomed sailors as they are buoyed by the sea or the fascination of stumbling into an enchanted forest. Such is the mystique of Tsunaina, whose ephemeral voice, hauntingly powerful neoclassical music and emotional storytelling can unsettle one’s core. She also has a face to match it. Likened to an otherworldly being with feline-like eyes, pillowy lips, porcelain skin and a neat constellation of freckles scattered across her face, the multidisciplinary singer-model has been photographed against snowy mountainscapes, historical landmarks and the vast ocean. She enjoys creating universes that reflect different façades of herself, all of which we will gladly dive right into.


Param Sahib Singh
(@parambanana | India)

There is a consensus that fashion’s days of tokenism need to be left in the past. Therefore, Param is helping to fill the gap of Sikh characters in magazine pages as well as pop culture. The queer artist has received backlash for going against gender norms but never once did he buckle under societal pressure. Even on regular days, he can be found in a chikan kurta, paired with the choicest accessories such as a chunky set of shiny shoes, a pink turban, a black handbag and — the cherry on top — a rainbow-coloured umbrella. Indian designers are slowly wielding an impact that could not have been foreseen only a decade ago.


Mahalia Handley
(@lateciat | Australia)

When Handley was shamed for being curvier than her peers, she turned to the internet to discuss the manipulative power of fatphobic marketing and how to rise above it. Proud to wear sizes in the double digits, the Darwin-born advocates ways of living with discrimination and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a disorder that plays havoc with one’s fertility and reproductive health. Apart from her modelling gigs, Handley updates followers on her health condition routinely, hoping her story will encourage more people to talk more openly about their menstrual and mental health.


Ella Emhoff
(@ellaemhoff | US)

The stepdaughter of US Vice President Kamala Harris believes that a divided nation can be woven together again through knitting. A fan of the craft, she first drew notice in the style world when she donned a jewel-dripped coat by Miu Miu at the presidential inauguration in January 2021. Since then, she has signed a major modelling contract, graced fashion week runways and landed prestigious magazine covers. Emhoff, who eschews politics, is arguably more radical, perhaps in part because making something with one’s hands pushes back consumer culture.  The artist-model aims to spread messages of positivity and inclusivity through her work, one stitch at a time.

This article first appeared on Apr 10, 2023 in The Edge Malaysia.


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