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A fresh face from Down Under

Peek-a-boo: Oversized blazer from Cotton On, bra from The SM Store, pencil skirt from Landmark and choker from Forever 21

MANILA, Philippines - Jessica Connelly, who goes by Jess, can’t help but turn heads. The soft-spoken half-Australian who has been        popping up left and right on blogs and in magazines, not to mention getting shot by The Sartorialist’s Scott Schuman during his recent Manila visit, has everyone asking: “Who’s that girl?”

After a short stint inside the Pinoy Big Brother house and dabbling in some acting, Jess has finally buckled down to pursue her true love: singing. “I have just always loved singing,” she says, “Now that I’ve been having steady gigs with my band Synima, I realize that it’s something that I really want to focus on and explore creatively.”  But the petite singer has been making waves not only in music but also in fashion and is now a new and constant favorite subject for many photographers eager to snap her photo at events.

YStyle sat down with the mysterious, up-and-coming It girl.

YSTYLE: What are you doing in Manila at the moment?

JESSICA CONNELLY: I am currently gigging a lot with my band Synima, as well as exploring writing my own songs. I’m really just focused on my music right now, trying to create.

Who taught you how to dress?

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As I got older, I got more confident. I guess you can say I taught myself how to dress. It took a long time, but I realized when you get less conscious, you can pretty much wear whatever you want. I moved to Cebu from Australia when I was 17 and was like, “Wow I’m so fat!” especially compared to all the skinny and pretty Cebuanas out there. So when my sister moved to Cebu (she’s a personal trainer), we started exercising together and I finally got in shape. During the past year and a half, I’ve been exploring fashion, wearing things that are much more extreme or strange, something out of my regular comfort zone. The weirder, the better. People laugh at me for wearing bucket hats! (Laughs)

How would you describe your style?

Daytime is very much about comfort, walking around doing errands. I don’t want to be all done up. Minimal makeup. A lot of boyish things in a feminine way, like sneakers with skirts. I like incorporating some streetwear too, adding a cool hat to a simple outfit. But at nighttime, I step up my game. I’m like, bam! I’m a woman! (Laughs) It’s a lot of fun, surprising people that way. Simplicity is very effective for me, especially with black and white, but I also try to be dramatic.

Where do you shop?

Topshop is my go-to for RTW. I usually only shop if I need something, but sometimes I’ll have a sudden urge, like “Oooh, I want a new shirt today.” I also like Trilogy, especially for accessories, and local designers like Boom Sason and Martin Bautista.

What’s the last thing you purchased?

KFC. Just kidding. My friend works at American Apparel, so a group of us ordered in bulk and I got a bunch of crop tops that I’m really excited to wear.

What inspires your music and your style? Are the two mutually exclusive?

My mood swings! Artists I like include Pharrell, Biggie, Aaliyah. Their music is a lifestyle, what they say, how they dress — the music they make is their personality. I like dressing up more and more because it says a lot of things about myself. I’m really, really into hip-hop. My boyfriend Mike (Concepcion) calls me the whitest black girl he knows, so that sound and lifestyle tends to trickle into the way I dress.

Favorite wardrobe piece you keep turning to?

My mom bought me this leather skirt with ugly slits and I hated it at first. But I brought it to a seamstress and had her sew it up and now, it’s my favorite piece! Thanks, Mom! (Laughs) I also have these Illesteva sunglasses I got as a gift from my boyfriend. When I’m lazy, they’re easy to throw on to add instant cool to anything I wear. They’re striped in black and white, so they match almost everything!

Most insane garment you’ve ever purchased?

I bought a pink jumpsuit for Halloween. The theme was ‘70s disco and I fit right in with head-to-toe fluoro-pink.

Favorite city: Cebu. I’m a Cebuana. It’s where I really grew up. I was very different back in Australia, but being here has helped me grow into my own person.

Favorite drink: White wine.

Favorite label/s: Alex Wang and ‘90s Versace.

Favorite restaurant: Wildflour. Also, the Secret Garden at Makati Garden Club. I like places like Barcino, Mango Tree or Kasbah with good house wine for drinking. Aracama, Rocket Room for socializing, and I love, love, love house parties.

Favorite Sunday afternoon haunt: I stay indoors on Sundays, usually resting from all the fun from the weekend. Sunday is rest day, and also video game day.

Favorite vacation destination: I really, really, really want to go to New York. And Greece.

Photos by INEZ MORO, Styled by CARLA VILLANUEVA, Makeup by ANACLETA PAREDES

 

 

 

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