Marla Singh and her family left Fiji in the 80s to live in Australia where her obsession with the world of modelling and fashion developed to crazy heights.
Corresponding from their base in Sydney, Australia, Marla, 39, and her husband Richard Walton say they want nothing more than to return to Fiji and live here sometime in the future.
Not one to lose touch with her country of birth, Marla has globe trotted the international scene of fashion with some of the world's best yet still remains a Fiji girl at heart.
Settling into a more quietened life of entrepreneurship these days with her line of totally fashionable Italian-made handbags , she does admit that fashion has always been her first love.
"I have always had a love for fashion ever since I can remember. As a child, I was fascinated by my sister's bell bottom pants, my aunt's saris and my mum's obsession with Jackie Kennedy Onaiss style," Marla says.
"I loved the creativity and passion of what the fashion world held. I was always amazed at how these designers, photographers excelled in amazing creations," she added.
"How I got into modelling was a friend suggested I enter this competition that was on national television thinking 'they are not going to pick me," she recalls. "Well, I was wrong, and won first place, and with the prize money I headed straight to Europe."
"It was very hard at the beginning. I went from casting to casting with rejection after rejection , than came my big break in Milan working for all 5 Major Italian magazines with 5 of the most influential photographers in the world, back to back.
"My agent Marcella said this was fashion history in the making as it had never happened in her 40 year career as a model agent.
"The great thing was, I did not know these guys from a bar of soap , not giving any of them any importance , maybe it was just my island mentality to treat everyone equally....well it took off from this point and lasted a good 12 years!"
Marla was born in Suva and lived in Flagstaff. She attended Suva Methodist Primary School.
Scallywag New York November 23, 2011 0
First of let me say from the outset I first laid eyes on Elle Macpherson as a university student back in Sydney, Australia at one of those opaque warehouse dance parties that were popular back in the mid late 80's and even then I knew there was something extraordinary about her. My hunch was only later validated when I returned home later that morning to see the girl that I had been ogling all night sashaying along Bondi Beach with a frost bitten can of diet Coca Cola on my tv set.
Since then Australia's very fashionable hero (but then again define hero?) and personality has gone on to mesmerizing heights. That said the woman colloquially known as the body and for good reason has come out in a rather revealing interview with the UK's Telegraph to talk about topics that for now were kept well under wraps.
Photo: Bryan Adams
Which could be what models of stature were waiting for, someone with Elle's status to set the standards (not the other way round thank you) of joining in for the lucrative ride. Since then supermodels the world over insist on heavy fees for endorsements, a percentage of royalties and even lending their name for perfume launches as supermodel Kate Moss has.
You have seen them all before the lacquered things that strut from one runway, Fashion cover to the next campaign. And then one day you don't. Well except in former top model case- Marla Singh we do.
After having spent 12 years working for the likes of Vogue, Elle and Marie Claire (primarily in the European capitals of Europe and Sydney,Australia (where she is based) even if she hails from Fiji (hence the company logo - MarlaFiji kids) as well as bagging a lucrative campaign with Revlon this femme fatale is it again. As a designer that is- a handbag designer.
Marla Singh - Scallywag & Vagabond - New York
Former fashion top model Marla Singh has always been blessed with an innate sense of style. Her career saw her posing for the likes of Vogue, Elle and Marie Claire as well as bagging a lucrative campaign with Revlon. After years of traveling the globe and living out of a suitcase Marla's contemporary cool style became infused with practicality and quality.
Throughout her career Marla was privileged to witness the inner workings of the design process and meet some of the industry's top fashion players. It was during these formative years that Marla came to appreciate quality, style and functionality and began to formulate ideas for her own designs.
From the catwalk to businesswoman
Fiji's Marla Singh Walton uses experience to set up design business
She may be as well known as Vijay Singh, Paulini Curuenavuli or Lote Tuqiri, but Fiji born Marla Singh Walton has certainly notched a few achievements in her time. Walton, 43, a cousin of golfer Vijay Singh, is the first Fijian international model.
Being a model 20 years ago in Australia let alone Europe was not an easy feat. It was harder if you were not of Anglo Saxon decent.
Walton did not let this stop her. Spotted in the exclusive department store, David Jones, by a make-up artist who later became a close friend, he urged her to pursue a modelling career in Europe.
All I wanted to do was to go to Europe and travel,she says.
He pushed and pushed me to pursue modelling. It was through him and his connections actually that I ended up going to Europe right after school.
It was a bold and timely move for Walton.
When I started out [in the early 90s], it was actually a period where it was all about India, the fashion influenced by India and people were looking for Indian, exotic looking girls and they liked the fact that I was from Fiji.
They were like, this is amazing what are you are walking around Milan rather than being in Fiji. I had an interesting story I guess. It's just being at the right place at the right time, says the shy and modest 43-year old who has modelled with the likes of Naomi Campbell and Charlize Theron.
The first six months were a bit of a struggle but then I did not stop for 12 years, she says.
It [the modelling scene in Europe] was quite different [to Australia] and people warmed up to the way I was as I was quite different to everybody else, my personality, she says
At the time, the real supermodels ruled the catwalks and covers of major magazines worldwide and she landed modelling assignments around the world, modelling in exotic locations such as Cuba, Brazil, Turkey, Asia and throughout Europe.
Based in Amsterdam, she modelled for Italian Vogue Italia, Vogue Paris Marie Claire, Elle and Donna Magazine among others.