We knew Layla Ong was going to be doing big things. She snagged her first cover with Female in November 2017, and went on to walk her first show for Gucci in F/W ’18 at Milan Fashion Week (referring to the experience as “a true sense of national identity.”) Later in the year, Ong once again graced the cover of our August 2018 issue, and is no doubt growing her presence on international fashion runways — the most recent being Gucci, MSGM and Dolce & Gabbana just to name a few at the Fall/Winter ’19 fashion weeks.

In light of this, we check in with Ong for a glimpse of her life now at fashion week, and hear from her what it really takes to make it in the international circuit.

What is a typical day like for you?

“I typically start my day at 9am and go as late as 10pm, and it is usually filled with castings and checking emails every single second for more last-minute castings or fittings to go to! All in all, it’s hustling — meeting clients or casting directors.”

Let’s start with your very first international runway experience. What was it like?

“My first international placement was in September 2016 in London. I was called in to replace
another model an hour before the show began. Everything just went by in a blur; I had no time
to take a breather and before I knew, the show was already over. I went home and watched the
show after and I recall telling myself, ‘Girl, you really gotta work on your walk and body.’”

How do you prep for fashion week?

“I try to sleep as much as possible, drink plenty of water, and avoid fried food and chocolates as they usually mean acne breakouts for me.”

What is the whole process really like — from the casting to walking the show?

“Firstly, you’ve got to meet a client or brand at least three times before walking the actual show.
That usually includes a pre-casting, the actual casting, the first fitting session, the second fitting
session, the rehearsal, and then the actual show. Secondly, you have to wait around a lot.
Sometimes, it’s a few hours in a room packed with other models just for a few minutes that the casting actually takes. Thirdly, rejections do happen right in your face at castings, but it can also happen even after you are confirmed for the show.”

Do you think your outfits in between shows matter, given that street style can boost an individual’s profile and visibility in fashion these days?

“It matters greatly. A good street style presence makes you stand out in the crowd, and photographers will be more inclined to snap a photo of you in your outfit. When that gets online, its easier for model scouts and clients to discover you — and at the same time gaining followers for your personal style.”

What is your go-to outfit?

“My go-to is the model classic — full black — with a pop of colour. You want to still look like a
model, but yet stand out subtly.”