Model Layla Ong first S'porean to walk Gucci runway in a long while

Layla Ong is the first Singaporean to walk the Italian luxury brand's runway in a long time

It is not everyday that a Singaporean model makes waves in the international fashion community.

But Layla Ong, 21, did exactly that when she walked the runway at Milan Fashion Week for Gucci's Fall/Winter 2018 show last month, wearing a sequin tweed jacket and skirt with sequin fringe, rosehip printed silk twill shirt and knitted balaclava inspired by a ski mask.

We speak to the 1.75m-tall former contestant of reality TV modelling series Asia's Next Top Model (Season 5) about her experience.

How did you feel when you first stepped out on the runway?

I was super thrilled. It was more than exhilarating throughout, and after the show, it was like you've achieved a major milestone.

When it was almost showtime, with (designer) Alessandro Michele standing in front of you, it was all so surreal. I have never been so nervous for anything. I could feel my stomach turn cold before stepping out into the limelight.

Tell us about the scene backstage at Gucci.

Well, surprisingly, it was not like any chaotic backstage scenes as I would have imagined. It was organised.

Everyone was at their designated position, they knew what to do and where to go. It was a breeze.

Not to mention a buffet table was set up, so during our free time, the models were mingling and munching away. They took care of the models really well.

How was it like meeting Michele and being with him at the fitting?

He has that aura, man. He doesn't speak much though.

He had a team of 30 to 40 members who assisted in dressing, accessory styling, photo-taking... The entire fitting took less than 30 minutes.

He has a clear vision of what he wants and is audacious in his style. That is probably why he is able to lead the Gucci gang.

You are the first Singaporean model to walk the Gucci runway in a long while. Can you tell us what that means to you?

Mega SG pride. It is a true sense of national identity.

Hopefully, it will help to pave the way for fellow Singaporean models... (and open up) more opportunities in the international fashion markets.

From your time on Asia's Next Top Model till now, how do you think you have grown as a model?

I would have to say that I am definitely more mature and focused now. There were times when I felt lost, but that is all right now. There is a clearer picture of what I want to achieve in life and in my modelling career.

What is next for you?

I am on an exclusive contract with Gucci for Milan Fashion Week, which means I won't be able to take part in the remaining shows for this season.

I might be off to Paris and London afterwards, then back to Singapore for the Outsider Fashion Art Festival, and then off to Japan and Korea for work.

My agency is planning to send me to New York for September's fashion season. We are waiting for that to be set in stone.

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