'Marc Jacobs girl' recognised on the street
Singaporean model gets recognised at events, festivals
"Are you the Marc Jacobs girl?"
It is a question Singaporean Nadia Rahmat has been asked countless times over the past 10 months by strangers here.
In January, The New Paper reported that the 24-year-old was one of the 11 new faces chosen out of 50,000 hopefuls worldwide for the Marc by Marc Jacobs Spring 2015 ad campaign in February.
Since then, she has been recognised by people on the streets, at music festivals, events and more.
When TNP caught up with Nadia recently, she said: "Sometimes, I would hear people whispering about me on the streets, saying that I am 'that Marc Jacobs girl'.
"If we make eye contact, I would smile at them. Usually I would try to be friendly. I am human, too.
"It has also been a great ice-breaker when I meet friends of friends. The topic allows us to ease into our conversations."
Nadia has the label to thank as it led to her meeting her current boyfriend.
She was at an event at nightlife venue Kilo in May when a guy told her: "You look like that Marc Jacobs girl."
"We started talking and things took off from there," she said, declining to elaborate on her beau or the relationship.
With her signature braids and standout features, Nadia has been told many times that she bears a striking resemblance to British singer-songwriter FKA twigs, who is also the fiancée of British actor Robert Pattinson, star of the hit Twilight movies.
At Laneway Festival here in January, three Caucasian concertgoers approached her to take a photo together, thinking that she was FKA twigs who happened to be performing.
Nadia recounted: "They told me they were big fans of my music and that when they watched me perform, they wanted to pour water over themselves.
"I was confused for a minute before I realised that they had mistaken me for FKA twigs.
"I played along and we took photos together. Throughout the day, people kept stopping me for photos and I felt bad for my friends who had to help us take the pictures."
Despite her high-profile breakout, Nadia said she was subsequently rejected by three local modelling agencies that felt her look was not suitable for them or the local market.
Nadia, who stands at 1.65m and weighs 50kg, said: "I am not very affected or bothered. Being with an agency is good because they can give you more modelling opportunities, but I can find other ways to build my name as well."
An only child of Malay, Arab and Indian descent, Nadia added: "I have always known that I stand out for my style and vibe rather than my looks."
Even though she is not signed to any local agency, she managed to secure several paying modelling jobs after her Marc Jacobs gig.
In September, she did a shoot with local clothing brand Collate The Label, which wanted "real Singapore women" for its campaign.
Last month, Nadia was featured in a four-page editorial spread for Glam Malaysia magazine.
The stylish personality also receives sponsored shoes from Puma that she wears and features on her Instagram account @skinnykatwoman, which has close to 11,000 followers.
She was also approached by British modelling agency Nevs, which currently represents her.
Next year, Nadia, who has a communications degree from SIM University, wants to focus on her full-time job as an event coordinator at Kilo.
"I will see how opportunities develop. I am still thankful for the Marc Jacobs gig. Not many people can say that they have done it," she said.
Next stop: Big Apple
TNP PHOTO: JONATHAN CHOO
NEW FACE: Local model Andee Chua on the runway for the brand Nagara at Bangkok Fashion Week 2015. PHOTOS COURTESY OF ANDEE CHUA
In June, The New Paper reported that local male model Andee Chua was rejected up to 20 times for modelling jobs here, but hit the jackpot in Milan.
He was cast by Italian fashion house Armani to walk for the Emporio Armani Menswear Spring Summer 2016 show at Milan Fashion Week.
Even though none of his subsequent gigs have matched up in terms of big-name recognition, the 25-year-old is pushing onwards and upwards come next year.
Chua, who is 1.88m tall and weighs 73kg, has been saving up so that he can make his second trip to Milan next month to audition for the Fall Winter 2017 runway shows.
Following that, he plans to head to New York for three months to audition for top modelling agencies such as IMG Models and Wilhelmina Models.
Chua told TNP: "New York is the dream place where all models want to be. I am not intimidated by the stiff competition I will face there.
"As long as I have positive vibes and energy, I'll be able to do something in New York.
"It may not be a big campaign or a big show, but I want to build my name up slowly in the Big Apple and pursue my modelling dreams."
Chua, who graduated with an arts management degree from Lasalle College of the Arts in April, estimates that he needs $8,000 for his upcoming overseas trips and living expenses.
To save up, he has been teaching several hip-hop dance classes on a freelance basis and cutting down on his spending.
"I don't go out for movies, I don't party and I don't shop unnecessarily," he said.
"Everything I do now, I do it with the aim of going to New York eventually. I have a very specific goal in mind.
"I think it's worthwhile to give up small things like these in Singapore to chase my dream."
Chua, who started modelling in April last year, signed with top local modelling agency Mannequin Studio right after he returned from his Armani gig in July.
He is also represented by UK-based modelling agency JEM-International Scouts worldwide.
In September, Chua had a placement in Bangkok where he was successfully cast for several paid editorial jobs, including multiple-page spreads for magazines Harper's Bazaar Men Thailand and L'Optimum Thailand.
He also made it to the cover of Wallpaper Thailand and walked a few shows for Bangkok Fashion Week.
Chua is grateful for the opportunities in Thailand even though it was his first time working as a model there.
"I was considered a new face in Bangkok and I thought I wouldn't get many jobs," he said.
THE NEW PAPER, JUNE 26
"But I think my experience at Milan Fashion Week helped. It felt like they were more willing to cast me because of that."
His exposure on the international stage has also seen his Instagram (@andeecys) followers increase by 20,000 over the past few months to 45,500.
He said: "I've been quite blessed. I haven't got any negative remarks. All the comments I have received are encouraging and positive.
"Sometimes I receive private messages on my Facebook or Instagram account from people telling me that my story had a strong impact on them. It really shows that hard work pays off and you have to believe in what you are doing to get to where you want to be."
New York is the dream place where all models want to be. As long as I have positive vibes and energy, I'll be able to do something in New York.
- Singaporean model Andee Chua, who scored several editorial projects (above) after his Armani gig in Milan in June