Willabelle Ong readily admits that she was weaned on social media. “Being on it feels very natural to me and it feels like I’ve grown alongside my audience,” says the self-described “full-time digital creative” who clocks 226K followers on her Instagram account @willamazing as of press time. It’s a number that makes her one of the most sought-after fashion-focused influencers in Singapore.
Cotton shirt, resin and brass pearl necklace with crystals, and Kiss leather handbag. All Chloe throughout unless stated otherwise. Gloves throughout, stylist’s own
The 26-year-old has been in the business since her teens, starting out on the user-submitted street style website Lookbook.nu then a personal blog. The first company to reach out for a collaboration was Material Girl – the fashion label started by Madonna and her daughter Lourdes in 2010 – during its early years, she lets on. Understanding her audience (“with brand campaigns, the less hard-sell, the better”) is what has kept her in it, she says.
It’s a modest answer. Beyond her fine eye – telling in everything from her designer wardrobe to her home’s decor, which blends the classic and new through a largely monochromatic palette – it’s clear that Ong has a gift for predicting social media trends and making them her own.
Viscose-blend knit dress and brass pendant on matching necklace
During the circuit breaker last year, she launched her namesake TikTok account, peppering it with lively, often laugh-out-loud funny videos satirising the lives of the fashion-obsessed.
One of the latest, for example, sees her combing through her lavish walk-in wardrobe to the tune of Whitney Houston’s I Have Nothing with the caption “Him: Hurry get dressed!”. The melodrama of her performance hints at how she’s aware of the absurdity of such indulgence.
Silk dress with metal embellishments and Kiss leather handbag
To date, she’s one of – if not the only – fashion influencer in Singapore to have found success on the platform with 255.6K followers. Her readiness to share a silly side to her usually sophisticated self has much to do with it. “What I like about being on both Instagram and TikTok is that they complement each other,” she says. “Instagram is all about curated, beautiful visuals while TikTok is where I can let loose and have a laugh at myself.”
There’s yet another dimension to her, one also unveiled to her followers during the pandemic: She paints masterfully. Luxury houses and customers have commissioned or bought her canvas works that see her transform inspirations from nature into vivid, abstract strokes and swashes all available for viewing on the Instagram account @willabelleart.
She admits that her creative process as an artist – once a childhood aspiration – differs greatly from that of a social media content creator. The latter is premeditated by a theme or storyline while the former is all about “seeing where the canvas takes me”.
Silk dress. (Opposite) Silk dress with metal embellishments and Kiss leather handbag
And such is what sets Ong apart from her counterparts. She’s a lot more than the OOTD-snapping persona she portrays on Instagram, flitting between the commercial and the conceptual, the put-together and the spontaneous as she explores her creative interests online for all to see. This, if you ask us, is as bona fide as content creators come.
Photography Stefan Khoo, assisted by Alif Styling Damian Huang, assisted by Jasmine Ashvinkumar Hair Sean Ang, Using Kevin Murphy Makeup Jyue Hue/The Makeup Room, using Dior, Pat McGrath & M.A.C
A version of this article first appeared in the April 2021 Community edition of FEMALE