S'pore girl chosen out of 50,000 for new Marc Jacobs fashion ad campaign
It started with the simple hashtag #castmemarc.
And next month, Nadia Rahmat's face will be plastered in fashion magazines worldwide as part of the latest Marc by Marc Jacobs Spring 2015 ad campaign.
At 1.65m and 50kg, the 24-year-old Singaporean does not look like your typical model. Yet, the communications student was handpicked out of 50,000 people from around the world to be one of 11 new faces for the campaign.
Speaking to The New Paper on Tuesday, the affable and composed Nadia said: "It's very unreal, I can't believe it's really happening. It's like one of those times when you Photoshop your face onto an ad campaign, except that it's real this time.
"It feels weird and bizarre, but it's nice."
Last September, renowned US fashion brand Marc by Marc Jacobs held a worldwide social media casting, which allowed Instagram and Twitter users to submit photos, using the hashtag #castmemarc, for a chance to be featured in the ad.
Nadia recounted: "When I chanced upon the casting, I thought, 'Why not?'. I identify with the brand's style as it's fun and more 'street', so I decided to join."
She has never been signed to any modelling agency here, and has previously only done freelance modelling for local fashion labels Mash-Up and Yesah.
In 2011, she was scouted to join The New Paper's New Face modelling competition, but only made it to the second round.
By the time the Marc by Marc Jacobs casting ended on Sept 26, there were at least 100,000 posts with the hashtag #castmemarc with some participants submitting multiple photos.
In October, Nadia was informed via e-mail that she was one of 50-plus shortlisted hopefuls who would be flown to New York City for a face-to-face casting.
During her first visit to the Big Apple, she was sent straight to the studio - with luggage in tow - after touching down from a 24-hour flight.
She was then wearing a white tank top and a pair of velvet black leggings, and her long hair was braided.
The styling team kept her braids for the shoot, with the stylist giving her the nickname "braids girl".
Recalling the experience, Nadia laughed and said: "I thought I would have the chance to go to the hotel to freshen up first as I felt quite gross and wanted to shower so badly. It was so scary and really stressful."
However, instead of feeling insecure or intimidated, Nadia said she was more in awe when she saw her fellow contestants in the waiting room.
'TENSION IN THE ROOM'
She recalled: "I was thinking: 'All these people are so beautiful and unique in their own ways, what am I doing here?'. There was definitely tension in the room as it was obvious that everyone really wanted to be picked."
For Nadia, the waiting part was the hardest as names were called at random times throughout the second day of casting.
She recounted: "I was freaking out because all of us had no idea what was going on. It didn't mean that if our names were called, we were definitely picked.
"It depended on who suited the direction of the campaign. Everything felt very uncertain."
Ultimately, seven women and four men were chosen for the campaign, which was shot in New York City on the second and third day of the casting.
The only other Asian in the group was a female Korean designer.
Nadia admitted that she was stressed initially, but relaxed after a while.
"It helped that the photographer and I shared similar music interests, and we talked about that," she said,
"The photographer also gave me good directions and the shoot was done in 30 minutes."
Fashion designer Marc Jacobs was present on the set to watch the 10-hour shoot on both days, something Nadia did not expect.
Nadia said: "He congratulated us and thanked us for doing the campaign. We did not talk much to him, but I have a lot of respect for him."
She was paid for the campaign, but declined to reveal the amount.
When contacted by TNP, Mr Michael Ariano, who handles public relations for Marc Jacobs International, did not comment specifically on why Nadia was selected.
Nadia, who is single, studied communications at Temasek Polytechnic and is pursuing a part-time communications degree at SIM University.
After graduation at the end of the year, she wants to focus on being part of the organising team for local annual music festival Super 0, something which she has been doing for the past two years.
Nadia's parents and friends are very supportive and proud of her achievement, with many leaving words of encouragement on her Instagram account (@skinnykatwoman).
She said: "My mum tends to overreact sometimes. This time round, she was excited and happy for me, but she was very composed too."
Nadia, an only child of Malay, Arab and Indian descent, thought her unconventional style and her personality could have helped her stand out.
"I am more into street style, and I am inspired by (English singer-songwriter) FKA twigs," she said,
"It is great that Marc by Marc Jacobs is getting non-models to front its campaign as it makes the clothes more relatable.
"It is also more interesting to have people from a more diverse and international background to be the new faces for their campaign."
'It's very unreal, I can't believe it's really happening. It's like one of those times when you Photoshop your face onto an ad campaign, except that it's real this time.'
- Nadia Rahmat
OTHER LOCALS IN OVERSEAS FASHION, BEAUTY CAMPAIGNS
The former national swimmer was the first Singaporean man to be one of seven models chosen for Italian fashion house Dolce & Gabbana's spring/summer worldwide advertising campaign last year.
The 24-year-old, who has competed in the Asian Games and SEA Games, said in a previous interview: "Being part of a worldwide campaign like this is like making it to the Olympics of fashion."
The Singapore permanent resident made headlines last year when she become the first non-celebrity model ambassador from Singapore to represent global beauty brand L'Oreal Paris in Asia at the age of 18.
The 1.76m-tall beauty, who was born here to an Austrian father and Hong Kong-Chinese mother, was the winner of Elite Model Look Singapore 2011. On her major endorsement deal, Fussi said: "I'm so excited and happy to be able to finally share it with everyone. This is such a big opportunity and I think it hasn't sunk in fully yet."
The top local model was the first Singaporean to represent leading Japanese skincare company SK-II as a global brand ambassador in 2012, joining the likes of big names such as Chinese actress Tang Wei and Hong Kong supermodel Qi Qi.
Now, Sim, 30, is focusing on her acting career. She plays a nurse in the Channel 8 drama You Can Be An Angel Too.
WHAT THEY SAY ABOUT NADIA
"Nadia's look is very interesting and she reminds me of (model-MTV Asia VJ) Hanli (Hoefer). I think that her landing the campaign is a good boost to the local modelling industry. I hope local potential models will find inspiration in success stories like hers and Nicholas Tan's."
- Mr Kit Chng, model manager at Nu Management
"I'll definitely cast her. It's a milestone for local talents and models to have Nadia as one of the faces for the new Marc by Marc Jacobs campaign."
- Mr Ewan Shah, head booker at Upfront Models