1 Girl, 4 Looks: Meet NYC's Hottest New Model, Lily Kwong

When we tell you Lily Kwong is everything, we're not using the same inflection as when, say, we're talking about an amazing pantsuit (although there are some truly amazing pantsuits involved). We mean, quite literally, that she embodies all of what being young, sophisticated, and fashionable is about for NYC girls today. Lily started modeling at 19 and is now signed with Elite; She's passionate about working with a girls' empowerment non-profit, Nuvana; She wrote and starred in a video project for Vogue Italia; She's currently finishing up her sociology and urban studies thesis at Columbia University; and, of course, she blogs. Her impeccable taste clearly owes itself to great genes — Joseph Altuzarra, a designer whose brain we'd all love to pick for style advice (and a new dress), happens to be her cousin. Unlimited Altuzarras, Vogue spreads, and an Ivy-League degree? Seems like Lily's post-grad lineup is pretty sweet.
Click through for four swoon-worthy looks from the next big style star you need to be watching.
1 of 17
Describe your style in just five words.
"Effortlessly elegant and always inspired."

Altuzarra heels, Zara socks, Proenza Schouler skirt and belt, men's Uniqlo cashmere sweater, J Mendel fur jacket, Mark Cross bag.

Photographed by Sam Horine
2 of 17
Who are your style icons?
"My mom's white and my dad's Chinese, and my mom's mother honestly looks like a '30s Hollywood glamourous star— that's kind of always been my image of womanhood and femininity. Lauren Bacall, Jane Birkin, Anna Karina, Faye Dunaway in Bonnie & Clyde."

Photographed by Sam Horine
3 of 17
What is your dream job and what is your favorite job you've done so far?
"My dream job is working with other creatives to make the world a better, more beautiful place to live in. I'm really interested in working with others who are innovating in the fashion and art worlds — Nick Knight at SHOWstudio comes to mind, as does the iPad magazine Post Matter. 
In purely fashion terms, I've long-worshiped Steven Meisel, Miuccia Prada, and Alex White, so working with them in even a small capacity would be a dream come true."

"This winter Vogue China sent a crew out to San Francisco to shoot an amazing editorial set to come out this March.  The group included my boyfriend and a few good friends, and we all stayed at my parents house!  My parents wouldn't have it any other way. After a long day of shooting, to come home to my dad's pasta feast was unreal.  That's the goal after all--to work with people who you love and who inspire you, and our shoot was just that!"

Altuzarra heels, Zara socks, Proenza Schouler skirt and belt, men's Uniqlo cashmere sweater, J Mendel fur jacket, Mark Cross bag.

Photographed by Sam Horine
4 of 17
What do you eat in a typical day?
  "I love cooking!  One of my closest friends has a show on the Food Network, Dessert First with Anne Thornton, and she's given me some great recipes.  I will often make soups or Asian dishes that I can bring up to school with me.  And I always, ALWAYS start the day with a smoothie.  Also I try and skip the vending machine--raw almonds and yogurt with chia seeds are my go-to snacks.  I've stolen the Gitane avocado toast recipe and that's a definite staple in my diet!

Altuzarra heels

Photographed by Sam Horine
5 of 17
What's your beauty regimen? Any go-to products? 
"I always use GoClear from Sephora in the AM and PM for my face, And for my moisturizer (I've been using it since my mom put it on me as a baby), I still think Lubriderm is the best. And TokyoMilk hand cream. For me, the simpler, the better!"

Rag & Bone jeans, YSL pumps, 3.1 Phillip Lim blouse with attached sequin collar, Black Sweater by Jamie Johnson custom-made blazer, vintage hat, Tod's pony purse, Finn jewelry ring.

Photographed by Sam Horine
6 of 17
Have you had an "I've made it" moment yet?
"I feel like I haven't really started. I first started modeling when I was 19 and someone just plucked me off of the street and I was still really adamant about going back to school and I was working as an intern at GQ and I was working for Joseph [Altuzarra], so I would blow off all my castings and I just wasn't very interested in participating. And it was only until I lived here a bit longer and met more people that I see there are a lot of opportunities to collaborate with other creatives. What's interesting to me about modeling is when you're on set with people who are really brilliant at their tasks and when you get to be a part of this 'thing'. I just started working with Elite in December, and they're great, so I feel like this whole new chapter is about to begin."

Dyberg/Kern bracelet

Photographed by Sam Horine
7 of 17
Do you like going out in NYC or do you feel like it's part of your job? Where do you like to go out? What's the best party you've ever been to? 
"The best parties I've ever been to ever been to were the early Milk Studios parties because they were just crazy and fun, and people forgot themselves a little bit there. Fashion parties can be a lot of looking at and judging each other, and I've always enjoyed the parties where the lights are turned down just enough to let your hair down!"

Rag & Bone jeans, YSL pumps, 3.1 Phillip Lim blouse with attached sequin collar, Black Sweater by Jamie Johnson custom-made blazer, vintage hat, Tod's pony purse, Finn jewelry ring.

Photographed by Sam Horine
8 of 17
Is there one invite to a FW party you're really excited about or hoping to get?
"I mean it's always really special to do the Altuzarra toast at the end of the show because my aunt's there and my uncle flies in from Paris and my cousin's there and I'm really close with the team. That's not a high profile fashion invite, obviously but that's something special I do every season. I would say last year I went to the Wang party and it was insane and it was so much fun. He's another San Francisco kid so he knows how to throw a good party. I always like going to that one every season."

Photographed by Sam Horine
9 of 17
Do you have any secrets for shopping on a budget?
There are so many great deals online— don't be afraid to hunt on eBay, Gilt, and the like."

Photographed by Sam Horine
10 of 17
What is your go-to daily "uniform"? outfit you wear most?
"You'll often see me in cigarette pants or trousers--the vestiges of my tom-boy years.  I always pair them with sweet flats or a beautiful top, something a bit unexpected. Think Jean Seberg in Breathless."

Jil Sander pants, dad's vintage leather belt (the gold ring is from a bull's nose!), J.Crew sweater, Proenza Schouler coat, Mark Cross bag, and Ruby Kobo jewelry.

Photographed by Sam Horine
11 of 17
What are your favorite stores in NYC?
"INA in Nolita, Stock Vintage, Barneys, and I love window shopping at the beautiful New York locations of Comme des Garcons and Isabel Marant. For staples, it's all about J.Crew and Zara.

What are your favorite date spots? "My boyfriend Simon and I like going to Indochine or Omen. For a mellow night we hide by my place uptown and do an Italian dinner at Salumeria Rosi — it feels like we're in Florence!"

Photographed by Sam Horine
12 of 17
How do you dress for class? What are some ways college girls can elevate their daily look?
"It's all about determination. I totally hear the other students out there — when we're swamped with papers and finals, rolling out of bed and heading straight to class in  pajamas seems like the only realistic option. But get inspired!  Invest in a few signature pieces and rotate them so every day you look fresh and put-together with minimal effort.  Dress for the job you want. Know the three or four looks you love and always have them on hand. I just got a J. Crew sweater that cost nothing, but it's really chic—it's striped white-and-black and I wear that a couple times a week and style it differently every time."

Photographed by Sam Horine
13 of 17
What's your dressing philosophy/how do you pick out your outfit each day?
The devil is in the details: Finn or Ruby Kobo Jewelry always add character to an outfit, as does the perfect bag or shoes.  It's all about fit, so I dress for my body type and don't worry about chasing the trends of the moment. I think my style is changing a lot recently."

  "I think when I first got to New York I was enamored with that dark look — I wore a lot of black, and grey, and blue, and navy, and I thought that looked really cool. For me it was all about layering different textures. That's what I thought that was really interesting and now I'm a lot more into the colors and patterns. I like a lot of the fashion coming out of London, like Mary Katrantzou.  I think some of the patterns that have come down the runways recently at Prada and Givenchy really remind me to not take myself so seriously."

Monika Chiang flats

Photographed by Sam Horine
14 of 17
Do you ever collaborate with Joseph Altuzarra on his designs?
  "I guess it's the little kid-cousin in me, but I'm always asking him for advice!  He has definitely helped me in my career — he knows the fashion industry inside and out and he's helped me to navigate all the decisions and opportunities that I've been confronted with since I moved to New York at only 18. Today, I feel really thrilled to have seen the fashion industry from so many angles: as a writer, both in front and behind the camera, in production and research...it makes me feel like I can take on all the unique projects that are starting to take form!"

Altuzarra resort dress, Esquivel shoes, Colab sunglasses, Finn Jewelry bracelet and ring.

Photographed by Sam Horine
15 of 17
How much time do you spend on the net and what are your favorite websites?
"I spend a massive amount of time on the internet.  I think the internet is so amazing. I think we should be so excited that we are all participating in this huge revolution in the way humans communicate.  I have a blog with my boyfriend, so I do that. I write stuff on that often.  It's www.august-10.com - (the day we started it). I just started tweeting this winter, it's @lilyscoutk. I love Art & Letters Daily, it was started by these Harvard students and they advocate all of these articles of note everyday and it's linked to everything from obscure psychology journals to the Atlantic to the Times and the New Yorker—I like looking at sites like that that are curated. 

For fashion obviously you guys, vogue.com, definitely my friend Garance Dore's site.  I love to go to Found for inspiration and this new app I have called Flipboard that I am, like, losing my life to because it's such a great way to organize content and different blogs."

Photographed by Sam Horine
16 of 17
How do you work up the courage to take those fashion risks? Is it a costume for you or is it you putting on another version of yourself?
  "I feel like I'm not there yet. I do feel like there are other girls my age doing some fabulous things with the way they look and I feel like I'm still working up the nerve.  ButI think modeling has really helped me a lot the past year because I don't think of myself as a model, being in front of the camera has made me a lot more comfortable with myself. I was always the nerdy best friend who won a guy over because I was funny. And I think in the past year I've gotten to do a lot of exciting things. My boyfriend and I just shot a film for Vogue Italia. We've been doing fashion films together and it's really made me realize even when you make mistakes it's not that big of a deal. Most times you can laugh at it and so the risks don't seem as big once you've made so many mistakes."

Esquivel shoes>

Photographed by Sam Horine
17 of 17
I know you're busy writing scripts — tell us about your upcoming projects! 
"I'm really excited about all my writing projects. Not only am I writing again on my blog (www.august-10.com), I'm working with my co-writer to develop a book about beauty & health, as well as some big ideas for the little screen.  These are all dreams at the moment, but you have to start somewhere!  In the short term I'm working with Simon on pushing our 3D projects, as well as continuing my work with Nuvana.org to increase at-risk students' access to resources and information.  I'm also excited about Elite's new management — I can see a lot of exciting projects on the horizon!"

Photographed by Sam Horine