Nico Tortorella is a being of many things—an actor, LGBTQ+ advocate, poet, and a fashion model. As an actor, Nico—who uses they/them pronouns—has always played another character. However, once they are off the lens of the camera, they make it a point to be an avenue to promote inclusion through fashion and poetry.
They shared to MEGA that they have always considered “fashion as a form of activism,” and we may well assume, that’s the reason why they have been wearing statement pieces across platforms. From wearing a trench coat made by gender-fluid brand TH3M in collaboration with Jeantrix during the VMAs, to strutting the NYFW runway show of Christian Siriano in a sheer black off-the-shoulder dress worn on top of a corset, we sat with Nico Tortorella and asked six questions to get a glimpse of their true perception of fashion.
What is fashion for Nico Tortorella?
I think it’s drag—really. I think Rupaul is the best. We’re all born naked, and the rest is just drag. And I think that depending on how I feel on the inside, it is expressed on the outside with what I wear or to counter balance how I feel on the inside. Sometimes when I feel very femme on the inside, in order to like balance out my expression, I’ll dress really masculine while also presenting really femme on the inside or vice versa. I think that’s something that a lot of us do, but don’t really talk about or accept, and if you are able to accept that balancing, real magic can come from what you wear.
When did you start exploring the world of fashion to find your style?
Ever since I was a little kid. I grew up in a bar and an antique store, and I saw all different types of things from Victorian clothing to stripper clothes right at the bar that my family owned. Growing up, my brother and I would dress up my mom on a regular basis and we would put clothes on her and do her hair and make-up which was just fun.
And to be an actor is to also play dress up on a regular basis and to play make believe. Eventually that became my job at a really young age—so that is fashion and expression built in to my career without it being deliberately fashion.
Who is your ultimate style icon? Why?
I think it’s Tilda [Swinton]. I just think that what Tilda does transcends any sort of gender. It’s super masculine and super feminine at the same time.
How did the fashion world change your life?
It’s another form of my art. It’s like how I express how I feel on the inside. It’s ever-changing. And now that I’ve really started to really embrace my non-binary identity through fashion, it’s taking a whole new life. The ability to put-on a dress and walk outside on the streets of New York is a whole new world.
What is one thing you want to see in the fashion industry right now?
Inclusion. Specifically for transbodies and non-binary bodies. I just want diversity in race, religion, body, gender, and age. We all wear clothes, and I don’t know why the fashion world believed for so long that only one type of person buys clothes. As a matter of fact, the people that are spending the most on clothes are in the middle East and Asia, so like why do we keep on putting white people on every campaign?
What is your fashion advice to the younger generation? Why?
Just play dress up. Play make believe and find characters. My favorite thing about fashion when I was in high school and middle school was that one day I’ll dress like an emo kid, the next day like a farmer, a prep, or a Miami game dealer. I was just like all over the place and while people would make fun of me, because they would say I’m a poser. I’d say I’m not, and I’m just playing with different energies. My advice: just play and get it out of your system.
‘All Of It Is You’ by Nico Tortorella is available at all National Book Store branches nationwide and online at https://www.nationalbookstore.com/all-of-it-is-you for P799.