Fashion ambassador role a cinch for ex-model

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 22 August, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 22 August, 2007, 12:00am

By day, veejay Denise Keller is recognisable as the morning host on MTV Asia. But at the upcoming Luxury Week, the Singaporean-German will return to the fashion industry where her career began, appearing as the fashion ambassador and spokesperson for the event's key sponsor, MasterCard.

The economic success of the region has led to more women in the workforce, and this has naturally led to more women with increased spending power. Keller, 25, epitomises MasterCard's definition of the modern woman - successful, confident and financially independent.

MasterCard's research suggests that the discretionary spending power of Asia's affluent and rich consumers (men and women) will reach a combined US$610billion by 2015. Discretionary spending of the affluent is expected to grow more than 73 per cent to US$17billion by 2015 in Hong Kong, and spending on luxury goods is expected to be a key part of outgoings.

A research report by Asia Market Research suggested that in industrialised Asia, shopping had emerged as a way of life for urban women, much like a visit to a garden centre on a weekend was a way of life for the British. The report said that women in Asia embraced shopping as a social activity and that shopping as a lifestyle would continue to grow in the region, particularly among the budding middle class.

Keller's role as fashion ambassador for MasterCard is a cinch for a young woman who began her career as a model after securing her first contract at 13, when she was talent-spotted by a French photographer.

'MasterCard has given me a chance to work in an area I enjoy and know very well, and at the same time I can represent a brand that believes in speaking to modern women,' Keller said. She said it was important to reinforce Hong Kong's position as a luxury destination because so many people travelled to the city to shop.

'They don't go for the mid or lower-range,' she said.

The idea of luxury was to make someone feel special and privileged. 'It's great to spend your own money on whatever you like. It's empowering. I think that more women in Asia are doing that. [Luxury Week] is about having a luxurious outlook on life,' she said.

Natalie Lockwood, group head of marketing for Asia-Pacific, the Middle East and Africa for MasterCard Worldwide, said Keller's connections with the fashion industry and her ability to portray a range of looks made her the right choice to act as the ambassador for the company at the fashion events in the region it sponsored.

Since being talent-spotted, Keller has become a visible face in Asia's fashion scene. She won the Ford Supermodel of the World title in Singapore seven years ago, and has been in demand for modelling since. Cosmetic brands and fashion labels have used her as a vehicle to launch and promote products, and she has appeared on the covers of magazines across the region.

Her modelling career has afforded her first-hand experience of internationally renowned designers and their products. But it is the region's local talent that is catching her eye.

In her MasterCard role, she has been working with designers in the region which, Keller said, were 'amazing'.

While Asian designers Vivienne Tam and Vera Wang - both participants at this year's Luxury Week - are firmly established on the international fashion scene, the time is ripe for a new wave of Asian talent to penetrate the fashion industry. And that, Keller said, made it a very exciting time.

'There is something very unique about Asian designs. Look at Vivienne Tam. She's a very good example where she takes the qi pao [traditional Chinese dress] and modernises it.'

Keller's passage from adolescence to adulthood was a privileged one, and her work assures her the best in material pleasures. Her indulgences, though, are as familiar as the next woman's: dark truffles and 'I'm a sucker for shoes'.