Singaporean model in Marc by Marc Jacobs global ads

Nadia Rahmat was picked from 100,000 submissions in a worldwide social media casting

A photo from the Marc by Marc Jacobs advertising campaign featuring Nadia Rahmat. -- PHOTO: TWITTER
A photo from the Marc by Marc Jacobs advertising campaign featuring Nadia Rahmat. -- PHOTO: TWITTER
Aspiring model Nadia Rahmat thinks her signature braids caught the judges’ attention. -- ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Up till a few weeks ago, she was just another aspiring model. But now Nadia Rahmat, 24, is a mini-celebrity.

The Singaporean events organiser was one of 11 fresh faces picked by popular American fashion label Marc by Marc Jacobs to star in its spring 2015 advertising campaign.

It was launched earlier this month and its images have been published online and are expected to run in fashion magazines worldwide. Images from the campaign will also be displayed in the flagship Marc by Marc Jacobs store in Mandarin Gallery next month.

Nadia, who is of Malay, Arab and Indian descent, says: "Friends have been congratulating me through messages and on social media. Some strangers have also recognised me as being the girl from the advertisement. The attention has been overwhelming.

"But I remind myself to stay grounded. Whatever happens, I will take things one step at a time."

Her entry was chosen from 100,000 submissions via a worldwide social media casting over Instagram and Twitter last September.

The brand, a diffusion line of the eponymous label by American designer Marc Jacobs, had asked users to submit photos with the hashtag #castmemarc for a chance to be featured in the campaign.

More than 50 shortlisted candidates were flown to New York City for a face-to-face casting last October, and 11 were eventually chosen.

They had their photos taken in the Big Apple on the second and third day of the casting by British fashion photographer David Sims, who has previously shot British supermodel Kate Moss and Barbadian pop star Rihanna.

British stylist Katie Grand, who counts Australian singer Kylie Minogue among her clients, styled the campaign, which had a playful vibe and a 1990s revival theme.

Dressed in a black dress, Nike shoes and sunglasses for this interview, the spunky Nadia tells Life!: "The stylist gave me the nickname 'braids girl' because of my long braided hair. She and her team thought they were cute and wanted them in the shoot."

The other models came from countries such as Britain, South Korea and the United States and all had bold signature styles, she says.

For example, a model from Switzerland had rainbow-coloured hair while another from Scotland had a distinct androgynous look.

"Everyone looked unique," says Nadia, who weighs 50kg and stands at 1.65m.

So what made her stand out? "Probably my braids. British singer-songwriter FKA twigs became my fashion inspiration two years ago and I decided to braid my hair to be more like her."

Plaiting her hair takes 10 minutes and she does this whenever she leaves the house.

Her mother Edah Hassan, 49, who handles finance services in a courier company, says of her only child: "Even in her daily life, people notice her personality and sense of style. I'm very happy for her."

Nadia, whose father is a businessman, has a diploma in communications and media management from Temasek Polytechnic. She used to intern at The Straits Times' online news site RazorTV and is now a full-time event planner with events group Super 0.

She is also pursuing a part-time communications degree with SIM University.

Although she has never signed with a modelling agency here, she has modelled for home-grown fashion labels Mash-Up and Yesah on a freelance basis.

Says Mr Nathanael Ng, 26, one of the founders of Mash-Up, a local streetwear label: "I'm not surprised she was selected. She has star quality and it's easy to feel her presence.

"Whatever clothes we've given her to model, she has always managed to pull them off and make them her own."

Nadia, who is single, does not harbour dreams of a glittery career in the limelight though.

"Although this campaign has helped boost my modelling portfolio, modelling will always come third, after my events work and part-time studies."

This is the second time Marc by Marc Jacobs has opted to use social media to scout for models. The first was for its fall campaign last year.

In an article in fashion publication Women's Wear Daily last year, designer Jacobs was quoted as saying: "Casting through Instagram seemed cool, current and strong... We wanted the ads to shout with youth and energy... to be fresh and reclaim the spirit that the collection had when we first conceived it - to be another collection, not a second line."

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