Most Influential Filipinos in the Gulf: Filipinos Models
With Western and Arabic models dominating the local world of advertising and fashion, and Southeast Asians a rare sight whether on media or on the runways, it is truly amazing to see a handful of Filipinos make a breakthrough in the local style scene.
Paul Kiefer leads this pack with a face that has graced many a billboards, buildings and buses in the UAE. With amazing good looks that include the perfectly chiseled face, Paul has done several campaigns for popular high street brand Iconic and Splash, not to mention runway shows, as well as various fashion editorials in the emirates. These of course, are just a small part of the modelling work he has done around the world.
Blessed with an arresting sort of cultural ambiguity which is all the rage in the world of fashion these days, Paul is still able to identify strongly with his Filipino heritage, despite having all Slovak, German, French, Polish and Lithuanian blood also running in his veins. He shares, “It seems my Filipino side is the most dominant. I think recently, I have never felt so close to my Filipino nationality than I do now. I spent 4 months in the Philippines after 20 years abroad and I really got the sense of who I really am and where I come from. Filipinos treasure their families and stick together through the hard times. The Filipino spirit is amazing and I can only hope that I have also been blessed with these great characteristics of a Filipino. I love the Filipino people and I’m proud to be a Filipino too!”
Illustrado cover girls Nina Naval Niemczyk and Mannette Mercado Mc-Even have been the quintessential examples of Filipina beauty in the local fashion industry in recent years. Both well-respected award winning supermodels back in the Philippines before they moved to Dubai, these two Filipinas have graced many runway shows in the UAE. Nina’s ramp work in many of Furne One’s haute couture galas, as well as at the Dubai Fashion Week and Fashion Forward shows, mostly as the lone Pinay, have given more than ample fierce representation to the Filipino community on the runway. Add to that, both ladies’ catwalk engagements for brands Splash and Iconic.
Hot on their tottering heels is a Filipino pro-modelling’s fresh recruit – Ann Llagas. Though a familiar face in the community circuit, Anne’s rise as a commercial model has been marked with her recent runway and modelling assignments for Dubai-brand Finchitua, Blue Marlin Ibiza – UAE, Rohit Ghandi & Rahul Khanna, Esmod and Runway Dubai, among others. Recently Ann has also won campaigns with L’Oreal and Kryolan Middle East. This young Filipino who’s highly motivated to further establish herself in the region’s multi-cultural modelling scene is also dabbling into fashion photography.