Mongolia’s biggest fashion show, Goyol 2018, concluded at the Central Cultural Palace on
November 29. As is tradition, the 30th Goyol selected the Top Model of Mongolia, best designers, hairdresser, make-up artist, and fashion houses.
The most prestigious prize of Goyol, the Top Model of Mongolia award, went to model A.Khaliunaa, who gave an interview about her life and career.
You have been walking the runway at Goyol for over 10 years. Have you ever imagined that you would have become the Top Model of Mongolia?
I first appeared on Goyol’s stage in 2001. Since then I passed Goyol for several years after giving birth [to my children]. I didn’t think of becoming the Top Model this year. I am very happy. I think this prize is a gift that values my hard work, patience and the years I spent in the fashion industry.
There are top models of Mongolia who walked the runway for very few years. Models who spent many years on the runway don’t get the same prize that you did. What do you think about this?
Every model wants to receive this prestigious prize. The organizers and judges of the show choose the top model of the year after considering models’ fashion career, consistency and modeling skills. Some top models were awarded at very young age. I won’t deny that.
How did you step into the fashion world?
I was a very shy and coy child. My mother wanted to fix those behaviors and took me to a modeling agency. My height was 176 cm when I was in 7th grade. I was very shy as I told you and quit the agency. After that, I went to another agency named Era. I am a student of D.Erdenetuya, teacher, and director of Era Center. I fell in love with fashion at that time.
Then the Mongolian Designers Association was established and I became one of the first 10 models of the association. I am still a model of the association. I am the first model to be awarded the Top Model of Mongolia prize out of those 10. I am very happy.
Most people think walking on the runway is easy. In reality, it is very difficult to present designers’ inner world, image, and hard work through their designs. What do you think about prior to walking the runway?
I have so many friends who are designers. Sometimes I spend time with them when they create new collections and spend sleepless nights at their fashion studios. I almost know every detail of the creating process. Designers devote their heart, time, desire, and hard work to their designs. That’s why I don’t have the right to disregard their creation.
The time spent walking on the runway is very short and limited. So I have to introduce clothes that I am wearing to the audience within that short time. I can’t advertise myself. I am responsible for promoting designers’ clothing. I always think, “What pose do I have to take in order to show the characteristics of the clothes, and how do I promote these clothes to the audience?” prior appearing on the stage.
I always try to be professional and responsible in every fashion show. I see some models forget these things and try to promote themselves, not the designs. This is the difference between a pageant and modeling. A beauty queen promotes herself on the stage. A model
has to promote the clothes that she/he is wearing.
People criticize models for having no facial expression. Must they always be “scowling”?
Let’s imagine that I was walking with a big smile on my face wearing a scarlet dress and lipstick. People would concentrate on me instead of the dress. As I mentioned above, promoting ourselves is not a model’s job. That’s why we have to walk on the stage with an emotionless and scowling expression on our faces.
Why didn’t you work as a photo model during your career? We haven’t heard that you became a face of any brand.
No, I didn’t work as a photo model. I only model on the runway. I did not prepare myself for photo modeling from the beginning.
Can you recall your first runway or modeling competition? Did you feel nervous?
I auditioned for the Cinderella fashion contest when I was in high school, but I couldn’t pass. I felt so disappointed. Then I started preparing and auditioned for Goyol in 2001. I passed and walked on the runway. That stage inspired me to try more.
What is your profession?
I graduated from the School of Economics of the National University of Mongolia as a business administrator and accountant. I also studied law at Orkhon University. I think people have to gain knowledge about the law and legal environment. A lot of people become victims of a crime or fraud because they don’t know the law.
I am currently working as an attorney’s assistant in the environmental field.
What are you going to do after “retiring” from the fashion world?
I have been working in the environmental field for seven years. I will be working in this field after leaving the fashion stage. The environment is one of the problematic issues in Mongolia. Mongolia has very beautiful landscape and is rich in natural resources. But humans are destroying our land. I am very sensitive
about this issue.
There’s a negative perception of models among the public. They say, “Models are weak minded and are ready to open their collars”. How do you view these sentiments?
It is so painful to hear things like that. I married my husband 10 years ago. My husband’s friends used to tell him, “Your girlfriend is a model. Models are promiscuous. You better break up with her,” when we started dating. People think bad things about models. Everyone has a different way of living. Yellow journalists criticize and spread rumors about public figures. The public believes them and start rumors about people they’ve never met before. Mongolia has only three million citizens. We don’t have to insult and humiliate each other even if we are not obliged to support each other.
Have you ever regretted becoming a model?
I haven’t. I didn’t do anything wrong. I am always trying to do the right thing. My life’s rule is: Be right and live right. I made so many friends while working in the fashion field. I also promoted Mongolia to many countries.
You said you participated in international fashion shows. How do foreigners view Mongolian models?
I have walked the runway in various countries. There are no extra pages to stamp on in my passport. Mongolian models are taller than average Asian models, such as Japanese and Korean. Mongolian models look taller when they wear traditional garments.
No one says, “This is model Khaliunaa” when I am walking the runway. They will say, “This is a Mongolian model”. The audience admires us and applauds us.
Young models J.Enerel and S.Tugs signed contracts with foreign modeling agencies and they are working internationally. Do you ever think about working abroad?
I used to think about it, but I couldn’t. There weren’t much international connection and communication 10 years ago. Everything is open today if you have skills and capacity.
Now I have a family and can’t go abroad to work. I am very happy with my life. I have my caring husband and lovely children. I don’t have to want more.
Can you tell us about your family?
I am the oldest child of my family. I have one younger sister. My sister is 179 cm tall. My family members are very tall.
My mother always supports me no matter what happens. My father used to run a private business. He passed away last year. I wish my father was alive when I won the Top Model of Mongolia prize.
My husband is an engineer. We have two boys. My oldest son is in third grade and the youngest is eight months old. We have so many happy memories.
Models always catch people’s eyes and appear on the runway. Did you miss the runway when you were pregnant?
Yes, I did. Torgo Fashion Show’s organizers invited me to participate in the show last year. I was four months pregnant at the time and couldn’t receive their invitation. After Torgo Fashion Show, Goyol 2017 took place and I became very excited and wanted to walk the runway.
How did you feel after coming back to the runway?
I used to think about only myself prior to giving birth. I became more responsible. I was afraid that I wouldn’t look like myself anymore. I put on a little weight. I tried so hard to get back to normal. I worked out and tried to eat healthy.
I don’t think there is a top model who won the award after having two children. My children changed me in a good way.