Lumia Nocito Says You Can Be Everything At Once
The model, DJ, photographer, artist, and bonafide It-Girl on embracing her multiplicity and nurturing her creative spirit in the process.
For Issue 04: Hacking It, Byline teamed up with Urban Outfitters and Dickies to highlight individuals who have paved their own paths and unlocked new levels in their respective industries. These creators defy the system by making their own rules, and in other words, they're Hackers.
Flat white New York light falls through the window in which Lumia Nocito sits, vaping. It’s early afternoon and we’re in her bedroom, which is also white. By the door, a white turntable. On the bed, nestled amongst fluffy white linens is a teddy bear. The only color in the room comes from his tawny fur, the bright pink vape in Nocito’s hand, and a blue chessboard in the corner. I’ve asked what she says when someone at a cocktail party or family gathering wonders what she does. “Sometimes I'll just say I'm an artist,” she says. “Other times, I’ll be like, ‘I’m a photographer, model and DJ.’ But calling myself an artist in my brain helps me understand myself more because then I'm not limited.” She gestures at the wall behind me, consumed by a three-dimensional sculpture. It’s white, textured, shaped like an exploding star. “I'm working on that,” she says. “It's not done.”
Nocito is twenty-four but has already launched successful careers as both a photographer and a model. She met her mentor, Petra Collins, as a junior at the Dalton School when a friend invited her to her Collins’ house to assist with a shoot: “She was like, do you want to come to Petra’s house with me because she’s shooting her personal work and needs someone to hold lights and also model. I was like, yea duh. She was doing what I wanted to do.” From there, Nocito learned from Collins, assisted Collins, modeled for Collins, which led to other modeling and photography jobs in the fashion industry. She attended Cooper Union for college, but continued to work throughout.
Naturally, modeling led to influencing; on Nocito’s Instagram grid I spy collaborations with Coach, Tory Burch, and Vans to name a few. In 2023, Nocito was named an It Girl in the now-infamous New York Magazine It Girl issue. But when I ask her what an It Girl is she says, “I don’t know and I literally don’t think I would ever call myself that.” She pulls on her vape contemplatively. “Many of my friends were in that article too and they’re all very genuine. They do the whole fashion thing. They attend events, they do influencer shit. But they also have their own interests that they take seriously.” I glance at the sculpture, then at the turntable, and ask how she started DJing. “I learned a couple months ago,” she says. “People have been telling me I should DJ for almost a decade because I know so much music. So I started and was like, this makes a lot of sense. I’ve been collecting music my whole life for this.”
DJing has been part of a wider effort on Nocito’s part to broaden her artistic horizons: “I recently took a break from working in fashion photography. I’ve been shooting this whole time, but a lot of personal stuff I haven’t put out into the world. Most people in fashion start around my age, and suddenly they're like, forty, still doing this one thing.” By these standards, Nocito’s decision to take a break was abnormal. Also, brave. Because it’s a risk in the fashion industry, or any creative industry, to be a multidisciplinary creator; it’s challenging to excel at several métiers at once and even harder to convince critics that you can.
“It’s human nature to want a consistent view of ourselves and others,” she says. “But at a certain point I had to stop being afraid of trying new things.” She tells me it’s essential to be in creative spaces where you are valuing your own work, rather than just appearances or clout. Too much time in fashion can make a girl forget that. “It was around the time that I let go of just being a photographer for the rest of my life that I stopped letting it bother me that part of my work was so related to the way I look,” she says.
So it’s clear that Nocito’s openness to art in any form is an act of self-nurturance, self-compassion, self-exploration–“I’m definitely still confused,” she says, “And I’m more comfortable not pinning myself down.” But with such openness must come many moving parts. How does she manage?
“Google calendar,” she says quickly. “And I finally got a fucking assistant. And therapy. I’m always trying to keep my shit together.”
“How about chess?” I ask, and she lights up. “Do you play?” she asks. I tell her sadly no and can see she’s disappointed. It’s hard to find people to play with, she says. “I learned in second grade on the chess team. It’s a game of memory and thinking ahead.” Does the game help her visualize what’s next, not just on the chess board, but in her life as an artist? “Right now, I’m just trying new things,” she says. “I’m paying attention to what I think is fun. For a second, I felt like fashion photography wasn’t fun or I didn’t want to do it because on the internet everyone just references each other. People were bringing editorials to me that I thought anyone could shoot which took the fun out of it. But lately I’m back on it. I just shot a campaign I feel happy with for the first time ever.” Part of this shift comes from the fun she’s having as a DJ. “It’s like turning a new leaf,” she says.
We get up and she shows me her closet, which is actually a narrow room filled with racks of clothes and a makeup station with incredible lighting. In contrast to the sparsity of her bedroom, this space bursts with color and fabrics and feathers and I find myself wondering which aspect of Nocito’s art this room most resembles. She says, “going to fashion events and having your photo taken is all really performative and it used to bother me. Like, is this just a small part of me, is that who I am or is it me at home when I’m working on my shit?” Now though, she says she’s less bothered. She knows she can be everything at once.