THEY have been dominating the catwalk, magazine spreads and fashion festivals in Singapore.
Over the years, top modelling agencies like Phantom, Upfront Models, Looque Models and Mannequin Studio, have been flooded with foreign models, particularly pan-Asian faces.
And recently, Singapore has become even more popular as a hot spot for such models, as they flock here in hope to move beyond the catwalk and break into the showbiz industry too. The demand for pan-Asian faces in the modelling world has spilled over to TV.
Mr Calvin Cheng, CEO of Looque Models which represents about 60 local models and 40 foreign models in Singapore, told The New Paper: 'Singapore is the headquarters for many of the international channels like MTV and AXN, and these stations have been hiring pan-Asian hosts.
'It's ideal for those models who are seeking hosting and acting jobs too.'
He cited MTV VJ twins May and Choy (who are signed on to him), Jaymee Ong and Angela May as examples of models who have sashayed on to the small screen.
According to Mr Cheng, he has been receiving quite a number of requests from stations like AXN and production companies inviting his pan-Asian girls for hosting auditions.
He also named Maike Evers, a Filipina-German former VJ, and Malaysian-based Italian-Chinese model-actress Stephanie Chai, as some foreign personalities who are keen to make their mark here.
'Like Sara (Lane), they are already big names back home, but in Singapore, they have the opportunity to go further.'
Mr Watson Tan, who runs Upfront Models, a nine-year-old modelling agency, agreed that there is a demand for pan-Asian faces on TV here.
Some of his pan-Asian girls have expressed interest in the showbiz industry. But Mr Tan pointed out that once a model moves on to TV, the contract may not allow her to continue modelling.
He also said: 'If you want to do TV, the money is not as good here compared to say, Hollywood. Unless you make it big, modelling can be more lucrative.'
According to Mr Tan, the high demand for pan-Asian faces here is due to their versatility. 'They can pass off as Asians or Caucasians... They appeal to local and international markets and ads travel further.
'A local model may not always appeal to both audiences.'
Upfront Models represents more than 30 foreign models from Europe, South America and the US. That makes up 60 per cent of the total number of girls he represents.
One of Upfront's top earners is Tabata L, who is part-Japanese and part-Brazilian. Her exotic looks have earned her spots on magazine covers, including fitness magazine Shape.
Mr Tan explained that the reason why there is an influx of foreign pan-Asian models is that local pan-Asian faces can be hard to find especially since the pool of models here is quite small.
'Overall, there are not enough good-looking girls in Singapore who want to go into modelling and take it seriously enough for an international career... So it's even harder to find pan-Asian models from here.
'Even then, our girls tend to be short despite their good faces.'
Phantom Model Management represents more than 100 foreign models around the world with its affiliated oversees agencies.
About 50 per cent of its foreign models are pan-Asian.
Phantom's top earner is Linda Black, who is part-Asian and part-South American and who has done more than 10 fashion spreads, ads campaigns and more than 15 fashion shows during her one-year stint, said its manager, Ms Patricia James.
Of course, not all foreign models make it big here. Many take the chance to beef up their portfolio in Singapore, said modelling agencies. Those who are sought-after can take home a five-figure income - equivalent to what top local models earn.
According to Mr Tan, there are no difference in work rates for local and foreign models.
And with the demand for pan-Asian faces being met mainly by foreign models, does this mean our local models are suffering?
Mr Tan said: 'Fashion has its cycles. Just a while back, the Chinese look was in. And let's say when clients want Chinese girls to be in qipao during the Chinese New Year period, it will be weird if you have a pan-Asian face in qipao. It all depends on the product.'
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