Hey, I Like Your Style! Inside the wardrobe of model, stylist and vintage archivist, Ava Coffen


“Growing up, my parents had pretty good taste and were in the music industry so, by proxy, all my style influences/idols were ’60s and ’80s musicians.” 

We know personal style is a journey (I’m looking at you, Tumblr years), so we’ve introduced a new series Hey, I Like Your Style!, diving into the fashion psyche of our favourite creatives. We’re talking the good, the bad and the 2007.

While the internet has made our fashion icons feel closer than ever before, even the most effortless of outfits came from a closet with some (well-dressed) skeletons. Clickable product tags, photo archives and lives chronicled in 30-second clips just don’t tell the full story.

For more fashion news, shoots, articles and features, head to our Fashion section.

These are the stories behind the wardrobes, exploring how we develop our own personal style. There’s a brilliance behind the way we choose to express ourselves and at FJ, we know every outfit has a story.

This week, we’re exploring the style of model, stylist, and vintage fashion archivist, Ava Coffen. An avid adorer of ’60s and ’80s fashion and vintage pieces, her style was been informed by rockstars and musicians of those golden days. Read on for her style journey.

Who are you and what do you like to wear?

Hello, I’m Ava Coffen. I’m a model, stylist and vintage fashion archivist. I mostly like to wear, style, and collect specialised vintage and designer vintage.

What has your style evolution looked like? Do you feel like you’ve gained confidence in the way you dress? 

My style evolution has always been pretty natural and consistent. Growing up, my parents had pretty good taste and were in the music industry so, by proxy, all my style influences/idols were ’60s-’80s musicians.  My family also collects a lot of antiquities, so I’ve always gravitated toward historical references – Baroque, Deco, Ancient Egypt, Edwardian, Renaissance. 

I really gained confidence in my style when I moved from a private girls’ school to a free dress arts school. At that point, I became obsessed with anything and everything ’60s. I wore huge platforms, psychedelic and mod mini dresses, beehived hair, and twiggy style eye makeup. I mainly wanted to dress like The Rolling Stones, Jane Birkin, Anita Pallenburgm, and Marianne Faithful. It was true commitment. Back then, vintage wasn’t fully accepted yet – to some, it was considered kind of gross or ‘un-chic’ – and was super cheap, so I was lucky when it came to shopping.

I’m also lucky I still fit into clothes from when I was a kid because I always end up going back to random pieces from childhood. Since moving to London, I’ve been forced into more of a designer scene but I think I like the authenticity of vintage, or even designer vintage pieces, more and always will. These days I wear more trousers and not just miniskirts and dresses. 

Personal style is a journey. Have you ever felt like you needed to fit into a particular fashion box? 

I think between the ages of 12 to 14 I slightly did. I remember trying to be ‘emo’ for a few years to fit in with girls at school but it never really resonated deep down and I always found myself tweaking it to more of a tailored vibe. I genuinely always found the idolisation of being scruffy and unkept frustrating, which was very prominent in the ‘scene kid’/emo style. But I loved the big hair.

When I discovered the band The Horrors, I found a perfect marriage of ’60s mod tailoring, punk vibes, and big, teased emo hair and fell in love. It made an easy transition to confidence in my personal style because it was somewhat vintage but also scene kid at the same time (I also didn’t have to pretend like I liked emo music anymore).

Take us back to those awkward teenage years. Do you have any fashion regrets? 

The only regrets I have in life are hanging around toxic people in the past, but regarding fashion, I don’t think I have one. I kind of love every look I’ve ever worn. But maybe when I was trying to fit in, in the emo years.

When I was 14, I used to do photoshoots with my friends and dress in ’80s clothes and pose like we were shooting for American Apparel in my parents’ clothes, then post the photos to MySpace. That memory feels cringe, but I wish I could log into my old MySpace account and dig up those photos for a lol.

What are the most expensive and least expensive items in your wardrobe? 

As much as I own items that are expensive, I’ve never spent more than $400 on anything. Maybe my original Vivienne Westwood x Malcolm Mclaren ‘Tits’ T-shirt – you see people wearing remakes but they aren’t the originals from the Worlds End store that use to be on Kings Road in London. I’d like to get the long sleeve detachable sleeve one too but they are like £4,000 [over $7000 AUD].

All my designer pieces, I’ve won in auctions or have been gifted by loved ones or designers themselves. I can tell you the least expensive items I’ve bought were 50 cents each for a Victorian blouse and a mohair baby blue 1950s coat.

What is the most meaningful fashion piece you own?

It’s a weird one (which is half not mine, but my Dad’s) that sits in my wardrobe and is only worn by me with great care. It’s an original Sherbet tour bomber jacket from Sherbert’s first world tour in the ’70s. One of my aunties, Jill, is married to Daryl Braithwaite’s (the lead singer of Sherbet) brother, so she and my other Aunty, Nanette, used to make stage/tour costumes and tour merch. There was a very limited number of these made in the world. It’s got sentimental family value.

What’s in your cart at the moment? 

Nothing at the moment but I’m ‘watching’ and ‘haggling’ on a lot of auctions right now, waiting for bargain price drops on Vestiaire. I’m a tight-ass and think it’s so ludicrous spending thousands on clothes, even if it is designer – it’s a rort and people spending that much money are being fooled. Don’t get me wrong, I love expensive clothes but you don’t have to spend that much. Most of the time the price is reflective of clout, and that never meant much to me.

What fashion piece are you saving for right now?

Currently, I am not saving for anything in particular but I am constantly saving because inflation is real and I want to have money to buy myself nice things every so often, whatever that may be.

What are the wardrobe items you wear on repeat? 

Basically, I go through these phases where all I wanna wear is glittery glam rock tapestries mixed with punk John Leyden tailoring or anything that Keith Richards or Brian Jones would wear. I have a collection of 1960s paisley lurex jackets that always seem to make their way into outfits year after year. But in the last year, it’s probably been my pair of ’90s silk Moschino patchwork trousers that I bought in an auction for $30. 

Who are your favourite local designers? 

I’ve been living in London for almost three years, so my faves there are Daniel P Tanner, Edward Crutchley (he’s actually quite highly respected in British fashion and probably wouldn’t fall into local, but very much one to watch), Bazaar Worldwide and Sarah McCormack.

I’m a bit out of touch with Australian locals, but the ones I have been keeping up with for the last five years are Jordan Dalah (who has genuinely brought high fashion into the Australian market), Maroske Peech (the impact this little brand has been making on European and UK designers is wild), Kalaurie (one of the first brands that I worked for in Australia and felt genuinely seen, as well as loving her work even before working together), and Ka-He (who has been making cool, interesting but casual everyday pieces that really make outfits stand out). All these brands are damn on the pulse and doing things that I genuinely resonate with aesthetically and visually. 

See more of Ava’s killer looks here.

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