Cipriana Quann is a what street style photographer dreams are made of, which can mostly be attributed to two things: her out-of-this-world natural hair and her eclectic sense of style. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg that makes this New York native so darn cool. When she’s not earing a coveted spot on the best dressed lists of Vogue, Elle, and Harper’s Bazaar, to name a few, Quann is splitting her time between modelling (she recently signed to IMG with identical twin sister Takenya and writing for the hundreds of thousands of fans devoted to her online lifestyle publication, Urban Bush Babes. So on a recent trip to New York, our mission was clear: spend the day with Quann and pick her brain about everything from fashion influences to the best vintage shops. And that’s exactly what we did.
You have been working in fashion for over 10 years. What continues to excite you about the industry?
Point blank—people. From street style, the energy of new designers, and the confidence exuded from individuals finding their own unique sense of style, to travelling and experiencing and seeing how different cultures influence fashion around the world. The element of surprise is another aspect that continually excites me about the industry.
What made you want to start Urban Bush Babes?
I wanted to create a lifestyle website focusing on fashion, hair, beauty, health, food, film, photography, interior design, and arts and cultures, with the uniting core of the site to support, encourage, and highlight the multifaceted lives of women, specifically women of colour, which I felt was missing in mainstream media. After years of modelling and constantly being told the natural texture of my hair was not "commercially appealing," I wanted to celebrate difference as the norm, imperfections as perfections, beauty beyond aesthetics, and break down the "ideal standard" of beauty while colouring outside the lines through a platform that women could relate to, no matter what ethnicity.
How would you describe your style?
I don't like to box in my style since I love a plethora of genres and styles. I could look like Diane Keaton one day or Lisa Bonet the next. I love mixing and playing with menswear, structural pieces, and pattern mixing, but hands down I have a very strong soft spot for the ’70s era. I adore high-waisted pants and skirts, bell-bottoms, crop tops, and long bohemian dresses.
Do you and your twin sister share a similar fashion sense?
Yes and no. It is always hard to shop with my sister, because we always gravitate towards the same items, but how we would style and accessorize the look is many times quite the opposite.
Who are some of your biggest style influences?
Hands down, my inspiration stems from my family. My mother taught me to be fearless, and that included style. She wore anything, from pantsuit business attire to bohemian dresses to an array of mixed patterns and textures. My father taught me the importance of tailoring and diversifying my outlook. He showed me how to expand my horizons of mixing menswear with womenswear. Then my identical twin sister inspired me to not care what others thought, and set the example of what style should be: fun. Oh, and I have to mention three stylish women who had a big influence in my youth: Lisa Bonet, Diane Keaton, and Diana Ross.
What pieces are currently on heavy rotation in your wardrobe?
High-waist bell-bottom jeans (well, high-waist pants and skirts in general, I am obsessed with), my mother's hand-me-down cropped leather motorcycle jacket, rompers, jumpsuits, overalls, my go-to men's-style black blazer, army jacket (decorated with my favourite ’70s and ’80s films, music, and pop culture button pins), and my velvet vintage burnout sheer fringe cover-up.
What is the best fashion advice you’ve ever received, and who gave it to you?
You can't buy style. Style is more about inner confidence than aesthetics. Defining your own sense of what is fashionable. Like beauty, fashion is in the eye of the beholder, so have fun and don't be afraid to express yourself—definitely a family motto.
Is there a trend you wouldn’t be caught dead wearing?
I don't follow trends.
The key to effortless style is…
You’re most comfortable when you’re wearing…
A mix between feminine and masculine pieces.
Do you have any rules when it comes to accessorizing?
I tend to stick to a daily uniform of accessories, which are very delicate, fine-jeweled pieces that I can stack, but sometimes if I plan to wear more for a special event, I like to play the balancing-act guidelines. For instance, if you are showing all leg, then you go more conservative on top, or vice versa. So if I am wearing a statement necklace, then I will wear small studs in my ears, or if I am wearing a statement bracelet, I will wear just earrings and nix the necklace. I also think accessories are a non-intimidating way for someone who might be hesitant in introducing more colour or patterns into their wardrobe, but wants to take the plunge.
What do you think is the key to navigating NYC’s extreme weather conditions?
Layering, layering, layering, and, oh yeah, layering!!! Part of learning how to navigate wintertime in NY is realising you are constantly on the move. So when you are indoors at dinner or an event, the change of temperatures is instant, and layering comes in handy.
You mentioned you’re a bit of a vintage girl at heart. What are your go-to secondhand shops?
YES! I LOVE vintage. Some of my go-to spots are Beacon's Closet, L Train Vintage, No Relation, Screaming Mimis, and one of my favourites, The Mobile Vintage Shop in Bushwick, where every single amazing vintage piece is $10!
Photographer: Sunny Shokrae
Makeup: Sophie Haig
Styling: Alex Sweterlitsch
Check out more from Quann plus her natural hair secrets on Byrdie.com!