For the Beauty Issue, Bazaar talked to four of the moment's most compelling models about their own philosophies of beauty. Below, Julia Nobis on following her own path.
When I was growing up in Australia, the absolute peak of beauty was Miranda Kerr and Elle Macpherson. Beachy, big boobs, that kind of thing. They are certainly very beautiful. But as a grown-up, I’m like, that’s not the only form of beauty.
Not that I thought I was incredibly ugly or anything growing up, but I never would have used the term beautiful to describe myself. In my family, makeup was never a huge thing. No one really wore much, beyond like a little bit of mascara. That was the most any of the women in my family would wear. In the modeling industry, I’ve learned to appreciate more graphic-type expressions of beauty, just in terms of crazy makeup. I use the term crazy, which is not necessarily the best word, but it is a form of beauty—that wrongness can be beautiful, as well as symmetry.
What other people think is beautiful is not necessarily what I think is beautiful. Beauty can be found in everything big or small, in people, and in nature. I’m a big fan of moss; I think that it’s absolutely stunning when you find a good mossy rock. I live out in the country. We found some on a trail that had been kicked off from its mother rock, and it wasn’t going to survive where it was. So we brought it home and put it on a new rock. Now it’s in a little terrarium. I’m very proud of that.
I am just the hugest promoter of hydration; that is my thing. I enjoy doing face masks. Who doesn’t? I am trying to treat myself and do a whole facial massage and really get the blood flowing. I don’t wear makeup. Partly that’s [because] I never learned how. Recently, and by that I mean at the Fendi show, Kim Jones had someone from FaceGym in the back, and he was like, “Go see her.” So now I need to go buy that little electrocuting machine because I am fucking obsessed. I’m a total convert.
Between the shoots and the shows, I’ve probably worked with Pat McGrath, the biggest makeup artist ever, at least a hundred times. Pat herself is so understated in what she wears—the black headband, not much makeup—but commands so much presence and then just, like, blasts out the most incredible looks. One of the coolest looks we’ve done was Miu Miu many, many moons ago. It was kind of like teardrops down the face except with pale blue and white, and then there were mirrors that were also stuck on. I think that was one of the first times that I really was like, “Oh, makeup is more than mascara.” To be fair, I was so tired at that point of Fashion Week that I fell asleep while getting my makeup done and woke up and saw myself in the mirror and had a completely different face on! So that might have added to the shock factor.
My family didn’t really put emphasis on dolling themselves up. That was really a healthy way to grow up, but I’ve had to hone my indifference. Working in the industry, you’ve got makeup artists zeroing in on every little flaw of your face, picking it up, and you can get really self-conscious about this stuff. I think it’s helped me appreciate that you’re not always going to look amazing every single day. And that is not necessarily a bad thing. There is a range to what our faces look like all the time, and it’s not always perfect.
I had a makeup artist tell me that I was part of the reason that she wanted to get into fashion and makeup in the first place, because she had never seen someone with a nose like mine before, then all of a sudden I’m strutting down the runway. She has a similar kind of nose, and she was like, “Holy shit. People do find this beautiful, and this can work.” And so that was heartbreaking, in a good way, to hear. Heart melting, rather. I was like, “That’s fucking awesome.”
I like that I show something that’s different. Going back to when I was a teenager, I thought that the only type of beauty was an Elle Macpherson–type thing. It was really refreshing to know that I can be considered beautiful, and it’s nice knowing that I can be that person for other people to be like, “Oh, that’s a different type of beauty.” I like that I have the capacity to make people feel better about themselves.
This article originally appeared in the May 2023 issue of Harper's Bazaar.