Androgynous queen: Canberra model Stefania Ferrario blurs gender lines
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Androgynous queen: Canberra model Stefania Ferrario blurs gender lines

There's an Instagram photo of Stefania Ferrario in a black suit and boots that looks exactly like a bleached blonde Justin Bieber.

​And she loves it.

Stefania Ferrario doesn't have a favourite brand: "I'm an op-shopper," she said.

Stefania Ferrario doesn't have a favourite brand: "I'm an op-shopper," she said.Credit:Rohan Thomson

The Canberra model, 23, is asked to dress in men's clothing at three out of 10 photo shoots, and describes herself as an "Andro Queen" - androgynous meaning someone who has the characteristics of both male and female gender.

While Stefania loves putting on a suit and tie for the camera, her curves are so phenomenal she was personally chosen by international fashion icon Dita Von Teese to be the Australian face of Dita's lingerie line.

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Stefania - real name Stephanie Kightley - said she'd always been obsessed with blurring gender lines, and grew up idolising transgender Australian model Andreja Pejic and Sweden's Erika Linder.

"I find wearing men's clothes so mind opening and liberating because sometimes I feel feminine and other times I feel more masculine," she said.

"I love to explore my sexuality and I think that goes hand in hand with gender fluidity and being androgynous - it's all part of the same thing.

"It's exploring yourself, your sexuality, your gender and it's just freedom."

The former Telopea Park School student always knew she wanted to be a model. She'd set up her own photo shoots at the family's Deakin home as a teenager, and achieved her "signature look" after watching a Keira Knightley movie in 2012.

"Keira cuts off all her hair and gives herself a bleached buzz cut," she said.

"It inspired me - so I went and did the same thing."

Stefania scored her break-through modelling job in 2013 when British fashion consultant Gok Wan chose her for a Target campaign. That same year, Von Teese spotted her in a lineup of models and asked her to be the face of her lingerie line in Australia. It was a dream come true for Stefania, who's "obsessed with lingerie" and pushing boundaries.

A true creative, she still sets up her own photo shoots in her spare time, but was forced to create a separate Instagram account, @stefania_raw, when her London management said her photos were "too out there".

"I was told by my agency that I was a bit too raunchy, and had photos that were a bit too racy and it was scaring away some clients," she said.

"So I came up with the idea of setting up a whole other Instagram account just dedicated to my more sexually liberated pictures and so Stefania Raw was created.

"It's basically my free place to post anything I feel like posting."

With almost a million followers across Facebook and Instagram, and recently named adult dating site Red Hot Pie's Sexiest Australian of the Year, Stefania doesn't take her role as online influencer lightly.

Last year she fronted the #droptheplus campaign calling on the modelling and fashion industries to lose the 'plus size' label, and she doesn't plan on being quiet about some dark days she had recently.

"I've been affected by mental illness and I actually went into psychosis last year - twice," she said.

"Mental illness is something I want to speak about more because there's still such a stigma attached to it - people just think that it's a choice and it's definitely not a choice."

Stefania is living in Canberra with her family briefly before heading to New York to work full-time for global agency IMG.

Bree Element is the life and entertainment editor at The Canberra Times

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