Adella Rose Khan doesn’t care what you think. The 23-year-old student served as editor-in-chief of the Charlatan last year, a demanding full-time job that had her working late into the night (often it was actually the morning) on an all-too-regular basis. Miraculously, Adella still managed to look badass as hell and enjoy the fun Ottawa has to offer. We’ve been obsessed with her style since Emma met her in second-year reporting class and adored her edgy outfits and impossibly-perfect winged eyeliner from afar [full disclosure: Emma also worked for Adella at the Charlatan last year]. Adella is the perfect subject for our first in a series of profiles on women whose styles and attitudes we’d kill for.
Why’d you start at the Charlatan?
I think I started because my best friend was doing it. She was really involved, and I wanted to write, and she was like ‘Yeah, just do it. Just go for it!’. She pushed me into it a little bit. I think the second story I wrote was on the Zombie Walk. I had a really good time doing the interview. The girl, against all codes of ethics, got me drunk. It was like my first time out in Ottawa. I wrote a story that I still think was pretty okay and it was on the cover, and got a full spread. It made me feel like such a baller. Why’d you stick with it? I like that there’s not a hierarchy in the same way there is for everything else. It doesn’t matter that you’re poor. You can do what you can, when you can, and I really appreciate that. There’s a spirit of getting as many people involved as possible and giving as many people opportunities as possible and I think that that’s something you don’t really get anywhere else. To do an internship you have to not work another job, you have to have money to do it, you have to live in whatever city it’s in, but the nice thing about the Charlatan is you don’t even need to know what the fuck you’re doing. Someone will show you how to do it. I think that’s brilliant. It gets a lot of people far because it gives them experience without requiring capital.
What do you like about journalism?
I like talking to people. That sounds dumb. [No, it doesn’t.] I feel like that’s The Answer, everyone’s like ‘I like telling people’s stories.’ But I do. I really believe that there’s a lot of power in the truth, which sounds super lame. I like that you can report on city council meetings that have something to do with people’s lives, and they don’t really know that. But if you write it in the right way and talk to the right people and point out the important things, suddenly people are educated on something that has to do with them. Assuming they read it, which they probably aren’t going to [laughs all around]. The thought’s there. I want them to read it.
Her name’s Yoshi.
What was it like managing a staff when you were only 22?
That was difficult. I like to think that I have a knack for managing people. And maybe my whole staff’s reading this and laughing at me. That would be funny. I think I’m good at communicating with people and being approachable and I think there was always a sense that I was there to support people and make sure they did their jobs well. And that was kind of the most I could do, I think, was giving people as much support as humanly possible.
What inspires your style? Do you have a style icon?
Okay, so I think Beyonce is incredible but it’s not about her style. Only in the music video for Why Don’t You Love Me. I want to look like that every day of my goddamn life. But, I like a lot of pattern and I like a lot of black. So I really like the designer Prabal Gurung. There’s not one person that I look at and I’m like ‘Wow, this shit is awesome.’ I just look at things for ideas on how to put together my own clothes.
How did you make that killer desk?
I needed a desk and I knew I wanted something small. That was pretty much all I was looking for when I looked on Kijiji. I get all my furniture on Kijiji. It’s cheaper, so why fucking not? I got it for $25. I arranged to get it. My friend’s then-boyfriend, who actually sucked, had a truck. He wore like New Balances. He was not a cool guy, but he had a truck. [We insisted that New Balances can totally be cool. Adella insisted that on this guy, they were not.] I just bought some sand paper and some silver knobs. My idea was to sand it down, get it smooth and repaint it a dark, inky blue. But then I liked how it looked when I sanded it down so I just kept it that way.
Do you have a favourite item of clothing?
This shirt. When my Mom was like 18 or 19 her friend went to Amsterdam and brought her back this shirt. I used to borrow it in high school. She would lend it to me when I was going to things and it’d make me feel so cool and awesome. I’d wear it with like my weird jeans. I love it so fucking much. And this shirt’s 20 years old! I wash it as sparingly as possible, which sounds ridiculous, cause I wear it a lot. It’s riddled with holes but it feels right. It feels me. Too bad it’s my mother’s.
What do you think about when you get dressed?
It’s so silly but it’s the first thing I think about when I get up. It’s all I’ve been thinking about since I’ve been awake, for like an hour. [When we say we’re ‘Getting Dressed with Adella Khan’, we were actually literally getting dressed with Adella Khan.] It’s a combination of things really, it’s like: what am I doing today? How am I going to look most cool doing it? Today I have no plans other than going to the park to read. So I have this dress that I only wear in the spring that has spaghetti straps. But it’s like super fucking comfortable and it isn’t going to bother me all day, so I’m gonna wear that. It’ll mean little tan lines. It’s a lot less edgy than most of the things I own, but, whatever.
Where do you buy your clothes? I buy most of my clothes from all the obvious places that everyone buys their clothes, which is super lame. But I buy almost everything at Value Village and St. Vincent de Paul. And I hit up sale racks. Like, every sale rack in the world. I don’t shop at Forever 21 cause my tits are too big, but at Urban Outfitters I’ve never bought anything full price. Their sale rack is a dream come true. Same with H&M. I find there are a lot of boutiques here which is really cool, but that doesn’t work when you’re a DD. So instead I just shop at everyone’s fucking sale rack.
What do you like about living in Ottawa?
Living in Ottawa is the shit. It’s awesome here. I love everything about it. But I hate winter. I hate that it was six months long. If winter kept going, I’d move the fuck away. But in summer, I live in the middle of Centretown. I can do anything, and half the shit’s free. I can walk around and see so much. And it’s not dirty, like I can’t walk down the street in Toronto with no shoes on. No one should do that, like I get it. But here, I live down the street from a park that I really enjoy, so sometimes, yeah, I go to the park with no shoes on. But it’s fine! I’m not gonna step on a needle or have my foot just covered in smog. It’s great. I love that. I love that there are free things to do all the time, cause I’m poor. There’s Centretown Movies for free in Dundonald Park. And all the fucking shows, which are all so cheap. All I want to do is see music and lie around in parks. And I can! So it’s good!
What bands do you like to see in Ottawa?
The most obvious ones. I love New Swears. I moshed on their stage on Saturday. I also really love Boyhood and see her as frequently as I can, which is pretty fucking frequently. Already a few times this year.
Are fashion and feminism related for you?
Yes. You know how you sometimes think super negative things about yourself and can’t help it? I sometimes beat myself up about my body, and then I sit back, and tell myself that in actuality, I am not building myself for the male gaze. While I have been told that this is what my body’s supposed to look like, this is what it actually looks like. And I know why it does. And I should just love it anyways, cause I am fucking awesome and I don’t care. That also really frees you when you’re wearing clothes, to avoid getting caught up in what you should be looking like, and just worry about what the fuck you want to look like. What do you see yourself doing in the future? I want to be a positive contribution to the world. I read that in my friend’s cover letter, that she wanted to be a positive contribution to the newsroom she was applying to. I was like, ‘That’s fucking brilliant!’ That’s what I want to do, but with my whole life.
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