Fashfest 2014 – Emily Kwong, a model citizen

Photo by Geoff Jones, makeup by Mary Li

Emily Kwong first hit my radar in last year’s Fashfest, modelling “that dress” by Sarah Joseph Couture, the dress she playfully dubs “the bum dress”.  In case you missed it last year, here is Emily totally owning the booty baring dress that would make most other models baulk and run for the hills!

Photo by Martin Ollman, c/o Fashfest

Chatting to Emily I found that she was both clever and charming.  We had so much in common I don’t know why we’re not besties, haha!

  • We both train to eat
  • We are both considered freakishly tall by female Asian standards (170cm+)
  • We are studying the same course at UC
  • We both work in the male dominated IT field
  • We share a love of soy sauce

As a former model myself I understand that modelling on the catwalk is a far cry from the glamorous image portrayed in the media so I asked to document Emily’s preparations pre-Fashfest to give people an insight into what it really takes to be a model.

Emily, 21, has been modelling in Canberra for the last 5 years.  Emily has been training up a storm at my gym for the last few months, often seen killing it in the squat rack.  Emily and I both suffer from the same genetic curse which I will refer to as the Asian-non-booty which can only be combatted by hours of squats, lunges and stair master!   As part of her Fashfest prep she has teamed up with Fitness First personal trainer Clint Heartly who is helping her target her booty and waistline with a 4 day a week weight based program (3 of these are leg days!!).  All I can say is that she is looking spectacular and I may have to pay Clint a visit myself.  Clint and Emily’s top 3 booty building exercises?

1. Back extensions, holding for 3 seconds at the top of the incline
2. Deficit deadlifts (deadlifts while standing a step higher than the ground)
3. Weighted glute bridge


Emily’s approach to modelling and body image comes as a relief to me.  “I train to eat because salad just doesn’t cut it” she laughs.  While she is working extremely hard at the gym, she is not undertaking any dieting other than attempting to avoid excessive junk food.  Emily goes on to discuss her concern seeing younger models emerging in the industry with a naive approach to body image, “they have this ideology that thinner is better”.   Witnessing models who avoid food and smoke to supress appetite is nothing new to the industry but knowing that this still occurs is somewhat disheartening, especially with recent press dubbing the recent MBFWA as the “Hunger Games” due to the number of waif thin models.  There is hope however; Emily also commented that recent trends, possibly due to social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, have seen the rise in popularity of a fitter, stronger body shape.  “I’m now seeing more and more young women at the gym, not just trying to lose weight on the treadmill but getting into weights, this is a great thing.” 

From my recent visit to the Fashfest rehearsals it was also great to see that the selection of models were a range of shapes , sizes and ages, there were plus sized models, short models and mature aged models.  This is something that sets Fashfest apart and also allows guests a realistic view of how wearable a collection can be.  It may be viewed as less glitzy and glamorous by high end fashion standards however I certainly hope that with the growth of the event each year they maintain this refreshing approach to model casting.

Further to the Emily’s fitness routine, all Fashfest models are required to attend 4 full day weekend rehearsals and 1 full dress rehearsal.  Further to that there are the countless dress fitting that must be attended with each designer that they are walking for (Emily will be walking for 8 designers in total!), and then on each show night there are hours of hair and makeup to sit through, not to mention promotional photoshoots leading up to the event.  This unfortunately is the unglamorous, time-consuming and boring part of modelling.  So, when you see those immaculate shiny models on the runway next time, give a little thought for the hours of waiting, preening, prepping and practise that is culminating in that 2 mins of runway spotlight.

Fashfest 2014 rehearsals

More so for my own benefit I asked Emily if she had any beauty tips that she was following leading up to the 4 day fashion showcase.  Her tips are simple:

• get plenty of sleep to look well rested.
• look after your hair and use plenty of leave in conditioner.  Don’t get lazy and cut corners!
• eat a well balance diet (don’t starve yourself)

But the question I was burning to ask Emily was how did she look so comfortable and confident in the bum dress last year?  Emily has a great attitude towards the catwalk.  From her years as a dancer she has worn some pretty risqué kalestinics, latin and samba outfits and has learnt that your body is not something to hide but simply a performance piece.  When she hits the catwalk she is no long herself but takes on a confident, sexy performance persona and I can personally attest to her owning that runway!

Photo by Geoff Jones, makeup by David Reid, assisted by Mary Li

With only 2 weeks to go before the massive event, what can guests expect from this year’s Fashfest?  A massive 4 nights of fashion with 75 models and 27 designers.  Emily’s tip is to watch out for Rockstars and Royalty’s collection, it will blow audiences away!!

Get your tickets now at www.fashfest.com.au

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