Fashion Heroes: 5 Top Supermodels of Yesteryears

1. Hanis Hussey

She was, arguably, Singapore's biggest fashion export in the 1980s. Having landed a contract in Paris, the leggy Malay model landed a contract that would propel her to fashion greatness. She was handpicked to become the house model for Yves Saint Laurent and quickly rose to be ranked as one of the late designer's favourite fashion muses. In 1983, Saint Laurent bestowed the biggest modelling honour upon her - closing his YSL 1983 fall/winter show, as the fashion bride, dressed in one of his couture wedding dresses. She later went on to walk for the likes of Balmain, Lanvin, Dior and Givenchy. This picture was taken from the Givenchy f/w 1988 show and it later became the ad campaign for the French couture house. 

She was also the only Asian face, taking front and center position, on the 1980s ad campaign for the legendary Parisian label Jean Louis Scherrer. 


2. Ethel Fong

Also in the 1980s, Ethel Fong became a modelling sensation in Paris when she found herself in the fashion capital after scoring a modelling contract. 

She walked the runways and modelled for the likes of Chanel and Dior. In 1986, this rare beauty went to a casting in Milan and met Giorgio Armani himself. The result: this international ad campaign for Armani which ran in all major fashion magazines around the world. Her delicate and feline features became an obsession for many fashion houses, designers, and big-named department stores in America. Her runway profile scored her many commercial gigs, which included modelling for the catalogues of Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom.

So distinct was her look that she was signed on to Ford Models almost instantly after walking into the office without any prior appointments. It must be noted that at that time, no one would have given anybody the time of day if you'd just walk in to an agency's office without prior appointments. 

She has graced the covers and pages of Italian Vogue, W magazine as well as many other international titles. Today, Fong is married and is based in France, where she lives with her husband and children. 


3. Pat Kraal

She left for Paris at 19 and scored modelling stints with luxury brands such as Givenchy, Christian Dior, Pierre Balmain, Pierre Cardin and Jean Louis Scherrer. Pat Kraal's fashion story was, just like that of Hanis Hussey and Ethel Fong before her, a magical one. Kraal had a casting at the House of Givenchy and met Hubert de Givenchy himself, who fell in love with her. She told The Straits Times: "He liked me and wanted me to start working straight away. There was no looking back after that." 


4. Nora Ariffin

Nora Ariffin was perhaps the most bankable runway star that came out from Singapore. She was the first Asian model (and the only Singapore model) to ever score a solo Chanel campaign - for the house's popular scent Chanel Allure - which was ran in magazines all over the world. More than just a runway star, who has walked for the likes of Chanel and Dior, Nora Ariffin is also Singapore's only model to date, to ever become a Cover Girl. int he early 1990s, she shared an international campaign ad with the likes of Luciana Curtis, Lana Ogilvie, Niki Taylor and Rachel Hunter.

5. Huda Ali

Pic credit: http://www.omgimgettingmarried.com/

She may not have a glamourous international runway career like the names before her but Huda Ali was still a top Singapore model in the 1990s. Touted as former model Hanis Hussey's protege, Huda Ali, the ASEAN Model Search 1993 second runner-up, started modelling at the age of 15 after she was discovered by Hanis. Huda went on to become the face haircare brand Vidal Sassoon and frequently fronted the covers of now-defunct local lifestyle magazine Go. 

She left the modelling world in the late 1990s for Milan, where she worked a press relations position at English fashion designer Neil Barrett's company. Huda is also good friends with DSquared2 designer duo - Dean and Dan Caten. Both of them attended her wedding (and walked her down the aisle).