VICTORIA VICTOR

Are you represented by an agency?

I used to have a main agency in Singapore, where I am originally from, but am yet to explore new ones that align with my branding as an androgynous/genderless model after moving to the United States. I have been offered to be signed by agencies in the U.S.

At present, I decided to stay freelance as it gives me more flexibility given that I also have another job in social services, but I am exploring the options with potential agencies.

What flexibility do you enjoy as a freelance model compared to being a signed model?

As a freelance model, I have more creative control over what assignments/projects I want to be involved with. Another advantage is I don't have to worry about the agent's fees that assist in marketing and promoting me. It definitely takes highly organized and marketing skills to be a freelance model.I have been a signed model before, and I value the experience and opportunities; it helps me to understand the nature of the business better.  I am not opposed to being signed again, but it will have to be an agency that aligns with my androgynous/ genderless, and positive branding. If you are reading this, please make me an irresistible offer.

Tell us a little bit about your hobbies and interests, what do you like to do when you are not modeling?

While not modeling, I enjoy spending my time with my close ones and a great social circle of friends. As much as I can, I try to be health conscious - I am a vegetarian, and a self-proclaimed fitness fanatic. I do yoga and body sculpting exercises on a daily basis, and use my elliptical extensively. I also love fine dining and enjoy wines/cocktails. It is all about having a balanced lifestyle.

Besides modeling, I am also an active community advocate and integrate what I do through arts or modeling with charity and philanthropy whenever possible.

Within the social services sector, and mostly through the work I do at Asian Counseling and Referral Service, I was recognized as a leader in this field by the National Council for Behavioral Health’s Healthy Youth Leadership Institute in 2016, and the Address Health Disparities Leadership Program by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Center for Integrated Health Solutions in 2012. With our health care system moving towards an integration of primary and behavioral health care, I coined the phrase #fashionintegration to use as my social platform as an artiste and model, so I can incorporate what I do in both settings. I am currently involved with Gay City’s Know Stigma, Seattle Office for Civil Rights’ LGBTQ Visibility Campaign, TRANSform Washington, Fashion for Conversation, Runway to Freedom and more.

Can you tell us more about your work with Fashion for Conservation and Runway to Freedom?

I am part of A-Dot Productions, I met its founder Ava J Holmes about two years ago when she did an interview about me, and I was also featured as one of the influential fashion models. A-Dot does a variety of projects including Fashion For Conservation - our mission is to fund conservation with the power of fashion.

As for Runway to Freedom, it is in its eighth year and the founder is Lauren Grinnell. It is a benefit runway event and gala that empowers victims of abuse through education and awareness of what domestic violence is and how to seek support along with living a healthy, progressive life. 

I am involved in both Fashion for Conservation and Runway to Freedom as an advocate, model, and assist with marketing.

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What would you like to see change in the fashion industry?

I would like to see the fashion industry be even more inclusive in embracing diversity. Fashion and style come in all ages, sizes, and every spectrum of the rainbow.

What are you goals as a model?

At present, I am content with my modeling career, and am extremely grateful that I continue to get opportunities. Over the last three years, I unintentionally started my androgynous/genderless modeling career, and have been on magazine covers, multiple publications, and fashion shows despite my small physique. One day, I aspire to be on the runway of a major fashion week, and become the ambassador/face of a major campaign. As a model, I have a social platform with a broader reach to create impact on a macro level, and ultimately, I would like to be able to use this platform to influence systematic changes that benefit more vulnerable communities.

Who is your favorite designer?

This is a hard question for me. In general, I love designs that have simple and clean elements, designs with asymmetrical components, and interesting textures. I also love designs with fun captions. I like independent artists and designers. They may not have the same level of capacity to mass produce like fast fashion or major brands, but they put their heart and soul into their designs through a tremendous amount of hard work - this is why I love modeling for independent artist and designers. By supporting their artistry, we build a cohesive and strong community. There are a few designers I absolutely adore and am honored to have modeled for them before, such as The Green Girl, Joanna Morgan, Jeri Warlick, Kate S Mensah, Neon Zinn, SCHAI, and VINCA.

What do you love most about modeling?

To me, modeling shares similarities with acting; it allows me to portray different characters and emotions to convey visual artistry. Being an androgynous/genderless model, it allows me to be fluid and more versatile in what I do. Besides that, I love that I make some authentic and talented friends who I know truly uplift one another, without hidden a agenda, that support one another to continue to evolve and be successful in what we do.

Two of my closest friends that I met through modeling are McCade Dolan, an outstanding photographer, and Paula Yahn, an award winning hair and makeup artist. The three of us have done many editorial projects together, and have also referred one another to other individuals in the fashion industry. Nothing makes me happier when I see my friends succeed.

How did you get started as a model?

There are two versions of this story. I started modeling as teenager back in Singapore. I was shopping at Takashimaya Mall and got scouted by Carrie Models Singapore. I went on to training and it has helped me to grow professionally from then on. I still maintain contact with Brigitte Ow who saw me at the mall, she lives in Australia now.

After moving to Seattle to pursue further education in social services, I never thought I would model again. But somehow, I was mistaken for female at a photo shoot while I was just accompanying a female model friend - the photographer and designer saw me hanging out. They asked me to be a co-model, and everyone on set was fascinated that I am not a girl. That was really the first time I modeled as female, and thought it was kind of fun. I never think too much about what will happen next, but with timing meets opportunities, I am grateful that I can re-invent myself as Victoria Victor.

What shoot/job are you most proud of as a model?

There are many fashion shows and shoots that I enjoyed being a part of; being selected is always an honor. There is one particular shoot I did that I am proud of, as it also has an unintended component in it. I was at a SULÉY Group launch event. They develop brands into a driving force of your business across fast growing segments - Luxury, Technology, and Consumer Lifestyle. At that event I met Linda Lowry , an amazing entrepreneur and fashion editor who is now  someone I call a good friend. She saw me at the event without a hint of makeup and then informed me about the brand JNBY- Just Naturally Be Yourself. She mentioned it is going to have a featured article in IBUKI Magazine. JNBY was founded in Hangzhou China by a group of local design students. JNBY is represented in the following regions; Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Shenyang and North America (New York, USA and Vancouver, Canada). In addition, JNBY is represented in more than two hundred franchises throughout China and its provinces.  JNBY has grown to be one of the leaders in Chinese fashion for its unique style and innovation. JNBY stepped into the international marketplace in 2004 and opened its first international branded store in Russia in early 2005. In addition, they have franchises in Japan, Singapore, Canada, Thailand, Georgia, Spain, and Korea. By 2006 there were nine stores in Asia and Europe, increasing to 12 by the end of 2007. In 2008, that number was increased to 32, with the addition of North America. 2009 saw the opening of the first showroom in France. In May of 2010, the first store was opened in Soho, New York City, and in December, the second store in Spain was opened in Barcelona. They continue to expand and opened a store in Seattle, Washington. And thanks to Linda, I got to model for JNBY in their boutique along with an exclusive featured article in the magazine.

What destination(s) would you like to shoot in?

There are many beautiful cities that I would like to shoot in, but one of them has to be the Great Wall of China. Other destinations include Barcelona, Berlin, and Madrid.

What inspires you?

I find inspiration from the people I look up to as positive role models. Authenticity and kindness are two qualities that inspire me the most.

Who is the most influential person in the fashion industry that keeps you motivated and inspired?

There are so many people that motivate and inspire me. One person that inspires me recently is Lyn Slater , aka Accidental Icon. At age 63, she breaks fashion barriers. It was New York City Fashion Week, and she was outside Lincoln Center wearing a Yohji Yamamoto suit and carrying a Chanel bag as she waited to meet a friend for lunch, and that moment changed her life. She became an accidental icon when she was mistaken by photographers and journalists as an important person in the fashion industry. In fact, she is a professor at Fordham University's Graduate School of Social Service. She has a blog now, and I am a big fan; it was also announced that she has signed to ELITE London's Special Bookings division. Through her blog she writes about fashion and beauty, focusing on lesser-known designers and brands she truly cares about while showcasing gorgeous photos of her unique looks.

To me she defies ageism, and her success is so inspiring. It truly shows that beauty can be timeless and ageless. One day I hope to meet her in person, of course take a selfie, and I will scream if I can model with her.

In what ways do authenticity and kindness inspire you? Does a particular moment come to mind?

The fashion industry can be perceived as shiny and distant. It is important to not lose sight of of who we are. At the end of the day, not compromising to societal norms and mainstream expectations will always motivate me to work harder. I cannot think of a particular moment, but I live by "Kindness may not beget kindness, be kind anyway. It is not about killing them with kindness, and at times, letting go is the best solution."

How do you prepare for a photo shoot?

Keeping my mind, body, and spirit in great condition as much as possible. Prior to any shoot, I will understand the concept and aesthetics of the creative team. It is never about me, it is about what the creative team wants to convey through the images.

What challenges have you faced as a model and what have you done to overcome them?

My gender identity can be a challenge, and at times, it can work against me since I am not female. However, my openness about my fluid identity has also helped me with my branding. Being a shorter person has its challenges as well, but I have been told that I exude confidence and have a strong stage presence, so that makes up for my small physique.

Other challenges are working with people who are not professional or prepared, but I consider that as lessons learned, and it helps me to be cautious about not being affiliated with negative branding.

You've spoken about collaboration a few times - what does collaboration look like to you?

Collaboration is a good way to create artistic projects to enhance the portfolio for one another. To me, it is always quality versus quantity regardless of whether it is a paid project or not. Collaboration also helps in cultivating relationships for future opportunities, and I believe in sharing resources to support one another to succeed and not just work exclusively with only selected individuals.

What advice would you give a new model?

My advice would be don't take rejections too seriously, use it as a learning experience to prepare for the next opportunity. Find something unique about yourself so you can stand out. Be mindful of how you portray yourself in life and social media, you don't want to be perceived as someone who is not a role model. When given an opportunity you need to seize it and learn what to do instead of turning it down, or finding excuses. Lastly, always make effort to dress in a stylish way, and not look sloppy. The world is always watching, and you never know who is watching. Your next opportunity may be when you are being scouted while shopping in a mall. And once you succeed, do it for others in the arts/fashion industry - help them be successful too. Kindness may not always beget kindness, but be kind anyway.

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Photographers: Cadeography, Sara Ranlett Portraits, Nowhereman Photos, Michael B. Maine Photography, Vera Pash Photo, Isaac Ruiz Photography, Chance Mclaren Photography, and Aurora Rose de Crosta.

Designers/Stylists: VINCA, Squirrel Vs Coyote, Vee Vintage, Kenny Lim Depression, JNBY and Anna Yuen.

MUAs: Rick Toth Makeup Artistry, Dawn Warren, Esoteric Makeup, Anna Yuen, and Paula Yahn Hair and Makeup.

Rose Gold hair color: Rose Prado/ Vann.Edge - an Aveda Lifestyle Salon

Platinum Blonde Hair color: JUEL Hair + Makeup