Spotlight: J Spring Fashion Show at Gardens by the Bay

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Before the first ever runway show at Gardens by the Bay’s supertree skyway, Benita Lee speaks to the woman who made it all happen – model/entrepreneur Jessica Minh Anh.

First published on 20 Feb 2014. Updated on 20 Feb 2014.

We’ve all admired the gorgeous – and sometimes eccentric – looks on fashion runways, but Vietnamese model/entrepreneur Jessica Minh Anh takes things to a whole other level (literally) with the first ever catwalk show on the supertree skyway at Gardens by the Bay. Known for her love of putting on fashion shows at unusual spaces, Anh has previously created runways out of The Grand Canyon Skywalk in Arizona, London’s Tower Bridge, the skybridge in KL’s Petronas Twin Towers and much more. The 27-year-old’s hour-long J Spring Fashion Show on 5 March (three days before International Women’s Day) will feature a blend of haute couture and prêt-à-porter collections from Europe, Africa, Asia and the US, with a menswear collection (by Brit designer Mark Marengo) displayed for the first time, as well as pieces by Lebanese designer Ziad Nakad closing the show. Here she shares with us a few snippets of her career and her love for fashion.

From Vietnam to Russia to France, her journey has taken her to numerous countries around the world.
I was born in Hanoi, Vietnam and raised in Moscow, Russia. I did my Bachelor degree in Business Information System in Malaysia and my Master’s degree in Marketing Communications in the UK, where I opened J Model Management. I recently moved to Paris, France to further develop the company.
 
Between modeling and cultivating her entrepreneurial spirit, she enjoys every part of her job.
I’ve always had a thing for event management. I used to organise big concerts and performances while studying, so leading a big team and finding solutions to problems is what I do best. I’ve always been passionate about event management, PR, IT and fashion, and being able to combine them all into my career has been a dream come true. I love every aspect of my job, especially working with the most talented people in the world.  Being a model helps me understand what really happens behind the scene and the needs of my fellow models to best accommodate them and get things well organised backstage. It’s not easy to constantly come up with brand new ideas for the next show, but being appreciated and supported by my colleagues, fellow models, creative teams and fans makes it all worthwhile. 
 
 
She’s known for her love of putting on fashion shows at unusual spaces, which she developed after experiencing all kinds of fashion shows over the years.  
I think it’s important in every business to stand out and take the lead. Having observed different types of fashion shows produced all over the world for many years, I saw certain limitations and redundancies. I wanted to bring a lot more excitement, surprises and innovation to each and every showcase; I wanted to bring brands and designers to the most extraordinary locations where they could get inspired; I wanted to turn iconic venues into phenomenal catwalks. And that’s exactly what I did.
 
When it comes to picking a new location for the next show, her gut leads her to the space that inspires her most.
I must admit it’s getting tougher after each show, as the expectations are getting a lot higher. The first criteria is that the venue must be authentic and no catwalk has been hosted there before. Then there are a series of other criteria to consider, but the most important thing is that I need to feel passionate about it and inspired by it. I spend a good amount of time considering all offers from various venues, but once I’ve made my decision, I know for sure the world will be in love with it as much I am.

 

 
She decided to host the catwalk show at Gardens by the Bay after realising how much more spectacular it was in person.
I’ve been fascinated with Gardens by the Bay’s skyway ever since I saw a photo of it. The length, the height and the view all fit in well with my vision of an ideal catwalk. When I visited the venue, it was even better than what I expected. I can clearly see that Gardens by the Bay is Singapore’s latest landmark and an award-winning development for a reason – it embodies the finest new technology and the greatest creativity, which are reflected in the supertrees and many other parts of the Gardens. This is a great opportunity to bring fashion closer to nature, as it combines my four personal favourites: height, length, creative structure and nature. I can't wait to show the fashion world what Singapore has got to offer.
 
So expect spectacular designs and stunning surprises at the show.
I am bringing back my favourite celebrity designer, Ziad Nakad, to close the show with his brand new haute couture collection. For the very first time, there will be a menswear collection by British designer Mark Marengo, and we are running a male model search to spot the future faces from South-East Asia. This is also the first time guests will watch the show from the ground and truly experience the height of the catwalk. The showcase in the morning will be extended till evening with the J Spring After Party at Pan Pacific Orchard Hotel, where the most unique pieces will be displayed in a mini fashion exhibition. In terms of styling, I look forward to presenting exclusive architectural hairpieces and flawless makeup looks to accompany the fashion collections. Of course, more surprises will be revealed soon.
 
 
Previous years’ shows have included catwalks of awe-inspiring heights and lengths, as well as national landmarks.
I just hosted the world’s highest fashion show on the Grand Canyon Skywalk in the US. It was such a surreal experience walking on the 4,000ft-high catwalk made of glass, as if we were walking on a cloud. Just a few months before that, we were floating on the Seine in Paris on the 90m-long catwalk, passing through some of world’s architectural wonders including the Eiffel Tower and the 37 bridges. At the beginning of last year, I hosted the world’s first sundeck catwalk on the international cruise ship, Costa Atlantica. It was not only the breathtaking background of Dubai’s famous skyline but also the transition from daylight to night during the catwalk that made it truly special. My first two sky-high catwalks on London’s iconic Tower Bridge and the Petronas Twin Towers’ Skybridge still remain my greatest pride. Getting exclusive permission to turn these national symbols into a catwalk was an honour. 
 
And as for the future, she's got big plans.
I’m planning a big show in the US this year, and I’m considering a number of offers for a TV show. I definitely want to continue organising the most unconventional catwalks at iconic venues around the globe and working with major partners in various industries, who I can always learn a thing or two from. I’m really excited about the future. 

The J Spring Fashion Show is on 5 Mar. See www.jmodelmanagement.co.uk/press.html for more. 
By Benita Lee
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