LAST_UPDATEThu, 22 Feb 2018 8pm

Do You Have What It Takes To Be Photographed?

Do you have what it takes to walk the runway? Pic: gulfnews.comDo you have what it takes to walk the runway? Pic: gulfnews.comMENTION the names Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell and Gisele Bundchen, and instantly the world of supermodels comes to mind.

With their timeless beauty and camerawork talent, these models have inspired many women worldwide to become international fashion models, and that includes Malaysian women.

So far Malaysia hasn’t had a supermodel with the same international cred as Naomi or Kate but we have many beautiful women that are worthy of being an international supermodel, women like Tengku Azura, Ling Tan and Amber Chia.

They, and many other Malaysian-born models, are the frontliners of the industry and the strongest faces that can elevate the local modeling scene to a higher level.

But modeling is also just like any other job: it can be tough, with plenty of competitors ready to take your place in the world of glamour.

So what is it like to be a fashion model in Malaysia?

Cilla Foong is one of Malaysia's Supermodel since the 70's. Pic: mStarCilla Foong is one of Malaysia's Supermodel since the 70's. Pic: mStarThe Pioneer Among ‘Em All

And before you heard of the names Tengku Azura, Hanna Toolseram, Bernie Chan or Kavitha Kaur, there was Cilla Foong, arguably Malaysia’s pioneer in the fashion world.

For those who are not familiar with her, Cilla first started modelling way back in 1978 at the tender age of 18. At the time, there weren’t many foreign designer brands or shows, so the opportunity for locals to become models was rare, if not non-existent.

“I recall one experience I had getting close to modelling an international fashion brand. It was during the Vivienne Westwood show in the 1990s where many local models were selected to do a show with the famous British model Susie Bick,” she shared enthusiastically.

According to her, things have changed a lot in the modelling industry today. Then, models were trained differently and had to do their own hair and makeup, unlike it is nowadays, where everything is done for the models.

Cilla has always been somewhat of a champion among the local models. She said she believes that competition is strong so local models can never be complacent and that there should be a delicate balance to encourage growth in the industry.

“If foreign models are needed, then bring in experienced and established models so that the local models can gain exposure from them,” said Cilla, who is now the CEO of Cilla & Associates Sdn. Bhd.

Prior to Cilla & Associates, she had personally trained and represented many Malaysian supermodels and has served top fashion and luxury brands and clients services since 1996.

“We have many beautiful and interesting blends of local faces, and I am proud that some of my models have worked very hard and done very well in their achievements,” said the model ‘maker’.

In The Eyes Of The Industry Andrew Tan, Founder of AndrewsModels. Pic: AndrewsModelsAndrew Tan, Founder of AndrewsModels. Pic: AndrewsModels

In 1987, Andrew Tan founded his modelling agency, AndrewsModels and has since becoming one of the top models management Malaysia. 

According to Andrew, modelling in the 80’s had a tremendous potential, as it was still undeveloped as a fashion hub back then. It is also considered as half entertainment and half performance art back then.

“As the interest grows, it was predictable that local and international brands will emerge as one, creating more opportunity for the fashion industry, and modelling comes as a package,” he said.

Modelling rates are determined by their popularity in the industry. If the demands are high, the model and their agent will determine the most lucrative assignment based on their availability.

In 2013, the Kuala Lumpur Fashion Week (KLFW) was established as a business-to-client platform for local designers to reach their potential market. This year, they have selected 10 emerging local models both male and female as the ‘face’ for KLFW.

This is part of their initiative to promote local talents as well as the participating designers in the industry. 

“As Asian models are being more accepted globally, it is great that our models are making headway into the international markets. I am proud that one of our model, Yuen, is doing very well in New York,” shared a proud Andrew.

Aizat Aidid, the deputy fashion editor of Glam magazine, said models are chosen based on the theme of the fashion spread when it comes to a magazine shoot.

“I would list down the models that I think is suitable to tell the story of the spread. Normally we would use Malaysians instead of foreigners because we really appreciate the wealth of Malaysian beauty that we have,” he said.

“A unique look and strong personality is among the criterias that the industry will look for when they are casting models for a feature,” Aizat added.

Aizat Aidid, the deputy fashion editor of GLAM magazine featured the fresh faces on the October issue. Pic: Aidid, the deputy fashion editor of GLAM magazine featured the fresh faces on the October issue. Pic:“Our clients are major international brands, so some clients would actually prefer local models. I believe that Glam can fully depend on local talents because we know how to transform them, to make them to look like those ‘international’ fashion models for our magazine,” said Aizat.

The Models’ Point of View

Graduated in chemical engineering from Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), International Top and Malaysia top male supermodel, Wilson Tan, started quite late when he first ventured into the modelling world, but within few years, he had won numerous awards to his credit. 

“The male model market is relatively small here in Malaysia, so I had to compete with foreign models a lot and learnt everything about the industry all by myself,” said Wilson, who is also an actor and TV host.

“It is best to have a great body apart from your height and looks when you want to become a successful male model. Of course, most importantly is to have a good attitude and high discipline, work-wise,” he said.

Professionalism is most essential, and key feature he looks for when working with locals, foreign or new models. 
Wilson Tan is one of the top male supermodel in Malaysia. Pic: Wilson TanWilson Tan is one of the top male supermodel in Malaysia. Pic: Wilson Tan

“I have seen a lot of new models started to demand after only doing handful of shows. It doesn’t work here. You have to be down-to-earth and decent with your connection,” warned Wilson.

Wilson said that he will focus more on his acting career and is eyeing on the Taiwanese market as a way to break into the international market.

Malaysia’s Newest Modelling Sensation

Lauded as Malaysia’s next fashion ‘it’ girls, Dayang Nur Atikah, Rita Suraya and Tuti Noor are the current names that is on the tip of the tongue of the local fashion community.

No stranger to the fashion party scene, these three different personalities each have their own beauty and talent that are now dominating the local fashion industry.

Dayang Nur Atikah or fondly known as Tiks was the only finalist from Kota Kinabalu, Sabah when she joined the Ford Models Supermodel of the World Search Malaysia in 2011.

Being the lone ‘tanned one’ in the modelling competition, Tiks said her win is such an eye-opener that the industry now is appreciating local beauty more.

“Back in my home town, fair skinned models seems to have more privileges than I do, so it is such a blessing to have won the search.

“I don’t see myself doing modelling fulltime, so I hope to venture into fashion business when I’m older,” Tiks said, revealing her future plans. 

Tiks, and the other two fresh faces, Rita and Tuti, all preferred to be working as a freelancer instead of signing up with an agency as their modelling career.

“Freelancing is much better for me, as I’m not really fond of getting too attached with certain requirements, but could not deny the fact it helps a lot too in getting more jobs,” said Tuti, winner of X Top Model Search in 2012.

“Modelling here needs to catch up a little bit as they are a lot of potential models out there. The next fashion 'it girls', (From left) Tuti Noor, Dayang Nur Atikah and Rita Suraya. Pic: mDThe next fashion 'it girls', (From left) Tuti Noor, Dayang Nur Atikah and Rita Suraya. Pic: mD

“However it is a fact that foreign models have a much better opportunity in terms of their height an look, but I must say we Malaysians are better on the catwalk!” she said.

For Rita, she started modelling as a part-time job while she was studying photography in Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM).

“Photography and fashion works together, so when I was a photographer, I know how I wanted my models to look like, so it’s easy for me to my work as a model,” she said.

“Just like any job, models need to give a 100%, other than your passion, so I hope the industry will have more new faces from Malaysia and those who have potentials, do step up and try if you think you got it,” she smiles.

Modelling may be filled with glitz and glamour, but it takes a lot of passion and hard work in order to make it in the fashion world.

Time to work it, baby.





- mD