If the Kardashians are anything to go by, families are a formidable force of nature, even more so when they’re a group of strong, empowered females. Or, simply put — sisters. Have them side-by-side, and watch them conquer the world. That’s the read we got from our NYLON cover girls, Kaci and Karen Beh. No, not the Kardashian-level eye-rolling and drama, just the fact that these models, with their equally towering statures, are primed to shake up the industry, one photoshoot and one runway walk at a time.
Currently at different stages of their careers, Kaci is the older sibling, a seasoned model at top modelling agency Basic Models, and with three years of modelling experience that includes walking the esteemed international runways of Paris, London, and Milan Fashion Weeks. She’s all serious business on both the Dolce & Gabbana Fall/Winter 2020 runway and in their high fashion campaign — after all, she is representing our little country on the world stage — though we’ve had enough photoshoots with her to discover the more relaxed, and downright quirky, side of her.
On set, Kaci is refreshingly contradictory — imagine, an edgy-looking girl with stomping boots and multiple piercings, doing, of all things, Sudoku puzzles in a book while waiting for her turn. Still, she’s wonderfully committed to embracing all sides of herself, a lesson that, she says, she arrived at after experiencing the hard knocks of the industry. “I’ve learnt to love myself and embrace myself for who I am, that I am unique in my own ways, and have to stay optimistic — rejection is part and parcel of this industry,” says the 22-year-old model.
(on karen, left): Vest, $5,740 / Shorts, $2,920 / Top $2,070 / Heeled Sandals in Printed Lambskin, $1,680 / Flapbag in Lambskin, Strass and Metal, $8,650 / Necklace in Metal, Glass, Resin and strass, $7,390
(On Kaci, Right): Pullover IN Cotton AND Silk, $5,290 / Skirt IN Cotton AND Silk, $4,390 / Necklace IN Metal AND Resin, $1,490 / Flapbag IN Lambskin, $6,890 / Heeled Sandals IN Printed Lambskin, $1,840
On the other hand, Karen is the younger of the two, and can be considered a fresh face in the industry. The 19-year-old tells us that she had always been doing part-time modelling, having started three years ago at the age of 16, though she just recently signed on for a full-time gig with Mannequin Studio, a reputable local modelling agency. “I definitely do want to try out for overseas placements in Milan and Korea,” she tells us, elaborating that her current modelling assignments involve working with e-commerce brands and magazine photoshoots.
“You get to interact with different people, or try out different concepts in the shoots that they’ve planned, so I always find it interesting — to be a part of content creation and bring that vision to life.” Despite being at the beginning of her career, she’s also had the opportunity to walk for Louis Vuitton during their Spring/Summer 2021 showcase in Singapore; certainly a prestigious experience for a young and budding model.
Naturally, with the two sisters starring in the same shoot, we had to ask — have they encountered their fair share of sibling rivalry? No doubt. Both Karen and Kaci coincidentally echo each others’ sentiments when it comes to this, even as the interviews happened to be conducted separately. For one, they both insist that they have completely different fashion senses, with Kaci leaning towards street-style attire while Karen’s more classic and feminine in her aesthetic choices. They’ve also gone through the clichés of petty arguments and stealing from each others’ wardrobes when they were younger.
However, Karen says that they’ve since grown out of that phase of their lives, while being together in the same line of work has brought them even closer and more supportive of each another. They’re now “always keeping each other in check”, and she acknowledges that the sibling bond provides a safe space for her to air her struggles. As for Kaci, she’s just as forthcoming about their relationship, telling us that she also feels the responsibility, as an older sibling, to guide her sister as she navigates the modelling world. “We are like any other sisters — fighting for clothes, accessories from time to time, arguing or disagreeing on small stuff, but if anything were to happen to her, I will definitely be there for her no matter what. I love her a lot!”
Photographed by ADELE CHAN using LEICA M11 + APO-SUMMICRON-M 50 f/2 ASPH lens
Makeup by PETER KHOR using CHANEL MAKEUP
Hair by DEN NG
Styled by JEREMY TAN
Assisted by GLIN GWEE
ON THE START OF THEIR MODELLING CAREERS
Kaci: “I was lucky enough to land an opportunity in 2018 when I attended the open casting and got accepted to be a model. I had a route in mind when I went for the open casting — to go back to school if I was rejected, or if I was accepted, to try out full-time. So it was fate, I got accepted and started on my full-time modelling journey.
Karen: “When I finished my ‘O’ Levels, Basic Models had an open casting, and I decided to try out for that. It went well, and back then I was signed to them [she’s with Mannequin Studio now]. I’ve always been tall, so everyone’s always asking, ‘why don’t you try being a model?’. At that point in time, there was nothing to lose since I was waiting to enter Polytechnic, and there was time for me to do the two-months training.”
(On karen, behind): Top, $2,710 / Skirt in tweed, $3,190 / Heeled Sandals in Printed Lambskin, $1,680 / Bag in Pearls and Stass (POA)
(on kaci, front): Jumpsuit in Stretch Tweed Crepe, $5,050 / Boots in Lambskin with Jewels, $4,720
THEIR MOST MEMORABLE MODELLING MILESTONES
Kaci: “Doing a theatrical catwalk for Julien Fournie in Paris during Haute Couture week, walking many shows and doing a campaign for Dolce & Gabbana, walking for Emporio Armani and also to grace magazine covers which include Her World and Harper’s Bazaar Singapore.
The experience strutting down the runways [for Paris, Milan and London Fashion Weeks] was amazing, the adrenaline rush when the music plays, on a grand runway location knowing everybody is looking at you — that feeling is thrilling and exciting. I am proud to be one of the few Singaporeans to be strutting down international runways.”
Karen: “Currently, I work with a lot of e-commerce brands. I enjoy going to shoots, and how every shoot is different. You get to interact with different people, or try out different concepts in the shoots that they’ve planned, so I always found that interesting, to be a part of content creation and bringing a vision to life.
Walking for Louis Vuitton [during their fashion show in Singapore] was a super exciting opportunity. I had a lot of fun! Just before the show day, it was a full day of rehearsals, which was tiring but necessary, especially after seeing how everything came together, with the CGI and camerawork and everything. It was very eye-opening seeing the concepts come to life.”
SOMETHING SURPRISING ABOUT THE MODELLING INDUSTRY
Karen: “Before entering the industry, I was like ‘oh taking photos is super easy’, but it’s actually not. There’s so much going on behind-the-scenes, and many people involved just to achieve that one photo. And there’s a lot of pressure on you, as you’re the face of the brand or whatever you’re shooting; you worry a lot on what you’re doing right, what you’re doing wrong, and what you can do. And this can change in the click of a camera.”
(on karen, left): Top in Tweed, $2,710 / Skirt in Tweed, $3,190 / Flats in Lambskin with Jewels, $2,480
(On kaci, right): lace Top, $3,360 / Skirt in Silk, $6,460 / Flats in Tweed and Lambskin with Jewels, $2,160
THEIR BIGGEST CHALLENGES SO FAR, AND WHAT THEY’VE SINCE LEARNT
Karen: “Confidence is something I struggle with, especially since I had entered the industry when I was 16 years old. I could have spiralled if I didn’t know what I was handling, especially with rejection. Back then, when I first started out, I would take the rejection so personally, but sometimes it’s not anything you can control, you’re just not what they’re looking for.
It’s also a lot of comparison, which is unavoidable, but as much as I can, I try to not get too affected by it, and try to reassure myself. Even during a photoshoot, I always tell myself, you’re doing fine, just take time and you’ll get there, and try to communicate with the photographer especially to get some pointers and see what I can change while making it still feel natural.”
Kaci: “During my modelling journey, I have gone through a lot of struggles and challenges to get to who I am today. These include having to deal with rejection from clients, being away from home for a long time, constant comparison with others and myself. However, I would like to say I am very proud of myself because I have grown so much over the past three years of experience.
I’ve learnt to love myself and embrace myself for who I am, that I am unique in my own ways, and have to stay optimistic — rejection is part and parcel of this industry, and being rejected right now by 1 client does not mean the other 99 clients will not accept you; to always keep an open mind and stay confident.
Being a model, it opened my eyes to the world outside and the art industry itself. I became more independent, after having to travel alone for months, tough, strong, opinionated, and learnt to know when to say no. I became more open-minded and carefree too, and I’ve learnt to enjoy the process of the journey. Some life lessons I’ve learnt — always remember that before others are able to accept you, you’ve got to love yourself both physically and mentally.”
HOW THE PANDEMIC HAS CHANGED THE INDUSTRY
Kaci: “The start of the pandemic was tough, jobs were severely reduced. However, slowly, clients were adapting to the change and we were filming catalogues, magazines, lookbooks from home — it was a rather interesting experience as I got to be my own makeup artist, stylist and even photographer, using a timer camera or film camera that clients had sent me. Now, everything is back to normal, shows are coming back, but I am also back in school, so I am as active in the modelling scene.”
(on karen, Behind): Jacket in Denim and Tweed, $10,540 / Jeans, $3,450 / Flats in Lambskin and Patent Calfskin, $1,760
(on Kaci, front): Dress in Silk, $9,450 / Necklace in Metal and Resin, $1,490
WHAT IT’S LIKE HAVING A SISTER IN THE SAME LINE OF WORK
Kaci: “It’s interesting, I remember when I told her to be one few years ago, she kept telling me ‘No!’ but see where is she now! [laughs] I am very proud of her for being a model. I don’t think we often get compared, I think we often get comments like ‘omg you guys look so alike’ and stuff, and I totally disagree with that, I see no resemblance at all!”
Karen: “Even growing up together, there’s always been a lot of comparisons. I’m always known as ‘Kaci’s sister’, so I’m very much used to it. At the same time, I do want to make a name for myself. Being in the same industry, I don’t see it as a competitive thing. For me, she’s someone I can learn from, as she’s definitely more experienced, considering she’s been doing full-time for so long. I definitely got a lot of good tips and insight from her.”
ON BEING THE OLDER SISTER
Kaci: “I definitely do feel the responsibility of having to guide her. Now that she’s just graduated from school, she has plans to go overseas to model. I feel like I have to guide her and warn her about many things before she travels, I will definitely be super worried if she would be travelling alone.”
(on kaci, top): Top, $2,550 / Dress in Silk, $9,450 / Flats in Tweed and Lambskin with Jewels, $2,160
(On Karen, Bottom): Top, $3,120 / Flats in Lambskin, Patent and Calfskin, $1,760
Makeup on both girls:
No1 de chanel revitalizing foundation, $114
spring summer 2022 les 4 ombres limited edition quadra eyeshadow palette in 747 MEDITERRANEEN, $103
Blush Lumiere in peche rosee, $103
Rouge coco baume in 918 My Rose, $53
Le vernis nail colour in 917 terra rossa, $43
HOW THEY’D DESCRIBE THEIR RELATIONSHIP WITH EACH OTHER
Karen: “Like any other siblings, we have our fights and arguments, and since we’re both girls, there’s a lot of taking each other’s clothes, shoes and all. But I feel like, now, we’ve grown past that phase and gotten a lot closer in recent years, just both of us growing up and having common interests, common topics, and mutual friends; that’s one unique thing, I suppose, that you don’t usually see with siblings. I now understand what she was going through when she was my age, and why we didn’t click then, which makes us even tighter now.“
Kaci: “We are very independent individuals, and we are like any other sisters — fighting for clothes, accessories from time to time, arguing or disagreeing on small stuff, but if anything were to happen to her, I will definitely be there for her no matter what. I love her a lot!”
HOW THEY ARE ALIKE — AND YET, VERY DIFFERENT
Kaci: “We are very different people I would say, not just appearance-wise but also fashion sense, attitude and personality. I am the more crazy, nonsensical, loud one while she is a more conservative, wary, cautious one. She is more dainty and pretty in her dressing, while I am quite loud and ‘street’ in my fashion sense. I am strongly opinionated and direct while she is more gentle.”
Karen: “Yeah, I’d say our styles are very different. There are times when I do see her wearing something, and think, oh that looks nice, I’ll take it the next time. [laughs] She’s more loud, for me I’m more toned-down. Personality-wise, I’m a very planned-out person, and Kaci’s more spontaneous and on-the-go. Still, I’d say we’re both quite vocal with our thoughts, and are able to voice out whenever we’re happy or unhappy with something.”
(Top row): yellow Flats in Lambskin and patent calfskin, $1,760 / white high heeled sandals in printed lambskin, $1,840 / white mid heeled sandals in printed lambskin, $1,680
(Bottom Row): White Flats in Lambskin and patent calfskin, $1,760 / Pink slingbacks in printed lambskin, $1,430 / Pink Heeled sandals in printed lambskin, $1,680 / black boots in Lambskin with jewels, $4,720
HOW THE TWO SISTERS SUPPORT AND INFLUENCE EACH OTHER
Karen: “She gave me a lot of pointers for catwalk sessions, posing and how to move more naturally in front of the camera, or tips on high fashion posing, which is a lot more avant-garde. She knows exactly what I’m going through as well. We understand the industry, and we’re always keeping each other in check. It’s a good safe space to have, somebody I can talk to about my problems.”
Kaci: “There are times, maybe, just maybe, I wanted to dress like her, but I look weird. [laughs] Sometimes, I wish I was more soft-spoken like her — but, nah, I still love being me. I do admire her meticulousness in planning and doing things, and being organised.”