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Breakthrough Local Model Layla Ong Answers 8 Questions and Tells A Joke

She made history on Gucci's runway at the recent Milan Fashion Week, but this 21-year-old is just getting started. That face!

There were so many things noteworthy about Gucci’s most recent show at Milan Fashion Week. The surgical room setting. The severed heads. The baby dragons. The pagoda hats and balaclavas. For us Singaporeans, though, the show represented a little bit more – and we have rising model Layla Ong to thank for that.

Coming into the spotlight first for being part of Asia’s Next Top Model, the 21-year-old made history and scored one for the country when she became the first Singaporean in a long, long, long time to walk for one of the most talked-about shows at fashion week: Alessandro Michele’s Gucci. You see, Singaporean models at the major fashion weeks are extremely rare and few – Jean Yong at Antonio Marras and Diya Prabhakar at Christian Siriano are other notable mentions – so when it does happen, we think the right to boast is well deserved. Talk about national pride.

Currently gallivanting around the world – she’s calling herself “Layla The Explorer” for now – we caught up with her for a quick chat about her major tassel-covered Gucci moment and where she’s headed to next. She’s even got a joke! Just for you! (For those of you who don’t get the joke, Google’s your best friend.)

Hey Layla! How’s it going? What have you been up to lately?
Work has slowed down after [Milan Fashion Week] so right now, I am taking the time to travel around the region and be Layla The Explorer, hah!


What is a typical day like for you?
A typical day in Singapore would be waking up to breakfast at home, followed by casting or work or an event, and then a quick dinner meet-up or happy hours with my friends or family. When late night hits, I would already be back home and I complete a quick 10 to 15-minute work out before washing up and finally off to my lalaland!


So, your Gucci moment at Milan Fashion Week! How did it all happen? What was your reaction when you got the call?
First, I got a casting call to Rome a month before the show and there, I did some fittings and took some snaps. The next day I was told I would be walking exclusive for Gucci’s Fall/Winter 2018! It was 3 a.m. in the morning while I was still in Rome and I received a call from my booker in Singapore. Imagine me waking up feeling groggy and unable to comprehend fully the news I just heard. And, of course i could not go back to sleep thereafter!


What were your thoughts and emotions leading up to that moment on the runway?
I had been feeling rather tensed yet elevated before heading to Milan. Just before the show, I could literally feel my stomach turning cold and I kept telling myself, “This is it. This is it. You can do this!” And then, I exited and walked towards the cameras.


Local models – or models from the region – don’t always have it easy when it comes to breaking into the international scene. Why do you think this is so?
I guess in Singapore itself, we do not have many fashion models to begin with. However, I feel like times have changed, models of colour are used more in shows after the breakthroughs of Asian models like Liu Wen, Soo Joo Park and Tao Okamato.


Was modelling something you wanted to do as a child? (I’m assuming you were a tall kid growing up, them legs!)
Never once thought about it when I was younger! Like any other kids, my options were being a doctor, lawyer or teacher. Hmm, come on fellow Singaporeans, I am sure you guys feel me!


Where is your path headed to next?
Will be back in town in a couple of days for the Outsiders Fashion Festival. Then, I will be jetting off to Korea and Japan and finally, New York for the next fashion season!


Just out of curiosity, do you have a personal modelling goal?
Yes, I would loveeeeeee to be a campaign girl!


Now, just for fun – what is your go-to party trick? Or perhaps tell us a joke at the top of your head?
Doctor: “I’m sorry but you suffer from a terminal illness and have only 10 to live.”
Patient: “What do you mean, 10? 10 what? Months? Weeks?!”
Doctor: “Nine.”


What To Read Next: The Secrets To This Creative Director’s Crystal Clear Skin, Conversations: Bella Koh On Turning Her Life Mantra Into A Business and On Fashion Week And Diversity: Has Anything Changed? | Cover Collage: YOYOKULALA.com, Images: Instagram (@laylaong), Vogue.com

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