Model Citizens: Singapore Models
Photo: Harper’s BAZAAR Singapore

Who’d have thought that the little red dot that is Singapore could produce so many great models who have repped us on both the local and international runways? From Serena Adsit to Wendy Jacobs, and Diya Prabhakar to Duan Mei Yue, these stunning faces share their greatest fashion moments, why they’re proud to be in Singapore, and what is it about Singaporean faces that makes us unique.

Wendy Jacobs

Wendy Jacobs and Iman Fandi
Wendy Jacobs and Iman Fandi, photographed for Harper’s BAZAAR Singapore, May 2018

“I became a Singaporean just last year and I must say I love the safety here. I don’t have to worry when my kids are out and that’s an important factor for me, as a mom.

The fashion scene in Singapore has definitely changed. Back then, we could only rehearse after the malls like Takashimaya and Paragon were closed, which means we only got home at 12 midnight and had our call time at 6am. It sounds crazy but we did it with no complains. We were also expected to bring along heels and bras in beige and black, and to go for casting in a black dress that’s above the knees.

I remember bringing my kids along and in between outfits, I was breastfeeding them backstage. I also miss working with fashion creatives like Daniel Boey, Rezal and Hideki Akiyoshi, even though they’d get really mad at you if you get onto their bad sides.

Today, being a model means you have to be active on social media too, because the clients are looking at your Instagram account, something which we never had to do back in the days.”

Serena Adsit

Serena Adsit
Serena Adsit, photographed by Wee Khim, Harper’s BAZAAR Singapore, November 2016

“Since the 1970s, Singapore has been churning out beautiful models of all races and ethnicities. I think over the years, people have associated us with not being just ‘one race’ and that our multi-racial mix just adds to how vibrant and beautiful we are as a people and nation.

One of my proudest fashion moments has to be the time I won the ‘Covergirl on the Go’ modelling competition with the now-defunct Go Magazine in 1995. The prize was a trip to New York and the highlight of that was having a private meeting with Tyra Banks! She encouraged me to strive for how far I wanted to take myself in the fashion world.

Having been born and raised here, I recognise how Singapore is set up to help you to succeed as a young person. Starting a business is easy, and our country is small enough where you can make your mark and make a difference. It’s also large enough to have a share of the pie in that industry, at least in the beginning. There’s nothing that holds you back.”

Related article: Meet Diya Prabhakar, the Breakout Singaporean Model Who Walked Marine Serre’s Show in Paris

Diya Prabhakar

Diya Prabhakar
Diya Prabhakar, photographed by Wee Khim, Harper’s BAZAAR Singapore, November 2016

“It’d be unfair for me to single out one particular fashion moment that I’m proud of. I was lucky to walk for Alexander Wang, Prabal Gurung, Area and Dolce & Gabbana.

I’m also fortunate to be able to travel to quite a bit of places but truly, there’s no place like home. I love how I get to interact with multi-racial friends from whom I learnt so much.”

Kaci Beh

Kaci Beh, photographed by Gan, Harper’s BAZAAR Singapore, January 2020

“As a Singaporean, I’m proud to say that we can all come together as one, though we may be of different races and come from different cultures. Our efficient and clean transport system that allows us to commute comfortably is something I am thankful for too. Last but not least, let’s not forget the extensive range of cheap and delicious food that are readily available everywhere.

One of my proudest fashion moments has to be my first-ever cover shoot with Harper’s BAZAAR Singapore, recognising our achievements as Singaporean models. There was also the time when I walked the runways at Milan Fashion Week, doing multiple shows and did a campaign for Dolce & Gabbana.”

Related article: Welcome 2020 With Our January Issue Featuring The Best In Asian Talents

Vivien Ong

Vivien Ong, Harper’s BAZAAR Singapore, March 2019

“Growing up, my mum would take us to the Buddhist temple and we’d go to the Hindu temple next door and pray as well. There is so much cultural diversity, and you’d usually be welcomed with open arms. Singapore is a great example of how different cultures can hold space for each other, co-exist, and have open chats about their individual experiences.

Growing up in a melting pot like Singapore definitely makes us globalised citizens; we’re open and appreciative of different cultures while retaining our Singaporean identity. I think that openness shows at castings and people always only have good things to say about our country when they find out I’m from Singapore!

As for my favourite fashion moment. It’d have to be the time I was booked for a hair and make up test for Moncler in Paris, and when they brought me through to Giambattista Valli for approval, he decided last minute to have me open the show the next day!”

Rathi Menon

Rathi Menon, photographed by Wee Khim, Harper’s BAZAAR Singapore, November 2016

“Singapore has definitely come a long way in terms of diversity. We are open to models of different colours, shapes and personalities! That’s why I am proud to be a Singaporean. And of course, I love the inexpensive and delicious food!”

Related article: Beauty At Every Age: Wendy Jacobs and Iman Fandi

Layla Ong

Layla Ong
Layla Ong, photographed by Gan, Harper’s BAZAAR Singapore, August 2020

“I am proud to be a Singaporean because Singapore, to me, is second to none even after all the travelling. It truly is where the heart is.

Which is why my favourite fashion moment has to be walking for the local countdown show–celebrating new beginnings with Singapore each year.”

Kaigin Yong

Kaigin Yong, photographed by Gan, Harper’s BAZAAR Singapore, January 2020

“I am proud to be Singaporean because we possess a strong community spirit that thrives, regardless of where we are in the world; which is why Singaporean models are unique due to our versatility. I feel that we have the best of both worlds as we grew up with both Asian and Western influences. Awareness of cultural diversity and being effectively bilingual are assets that help us to readily adapt to different foreign markets and build rapport with an international team of creatives.

My most memorable fashion moment has to be the one when I opened the show for Singapore Fashion Week 2017; I was just a newcomer in the industry. On top of that, it was for the brilliant local designer Lai Chan. Although I have since walked the runways in Paris, London and Milan, my debut stage in Singapore holds a special meaning as it gives me most pride and joy to represent Singapore on stage as a Singaporean model.”

Duan Mei Yue

Mei Yue, photographed by Gan, Harper’s BAZAAR Singapore, January 2020

“I am in love with how this country is so well taken care of. There are definitely flaws that need work but overall, Singapore is pretty awesome. Crime rates are low and it’s so clean and green. Public transport is so convenient and affordable. After I started travelling for modelling placements, I realised how beautiful this city is and how blessed I am to be able to live here. I also started to really appreciate our Singaporean accent because of how fun and unique it is.

Singapore has afforded me many opportunities, but being a part of a group cover for Harper’s BAZAAR Singapore January 2020 issue was definitely a highlight and honour for me. Plus, I got to shoot with (fellow model) Kaci for the first time! I love her so much.

Another great memory for me was the time I walked for Dior Haute Couture show SS2018 in Shanghai and I was the only Singaporean. I felt so honoured to be able to walk on such a prestigious runway as a Singaporean model. I met so many of the models I look up to and made friends with some of them there.

Related article: Watch: Irfan, Ikhsan and Iman Fandi Play A Revealing Game of “Most Likely To…”

Nadia Kishlan

Nadia Kishlan, photographed by Wee Khim, Harper’s BAZAAR Singapore, November 2016

“As Singaporeans, we’re raised in a culture that values hard work, so models here are not just ‘pretty faces’; we’re actually very multi-faceted— we’re also entrepreneurs, actors/ actresses, researchers, personal trainers, and the list goes on. But one of the weirdest and proudest flexes I do as Singaporean has to be the ability to converse in Singlish.”

Aimee Cheng-Bradshaw

Aimee Cheng-Bradshaw
Aimee Cheng-Bradshaw photographed by Gan for Harper’s BAZAAR Singapore, August 2018

“As a model, I remember fondly the time I walked down the runway for Jason Wu in the most beautiful green toga wrap dress.

And what do I hope to see change in Singapore’s fashion scene? I hope that the industry will find ways to focus on sustainability. We only have one Mother Earth and it’s time we take care of her!”