Jessica Minh Anh walks on the most unique runways the world of fashion has ever seen. There’s a certain sense of pride and conviction in her every step, and her face — small and delicate as it may be — radiate energy that pulls people in. In a career that started when she was just 15, this Vietnamese-Russian darling has earned her supermodel status.
But what sets Jessica apart from the rest is the fact that she doesn’t just elevate fashion on the catwalk. She promotes sustainability in every iconic show she produces herself. She says her passion for fashion and skills and experience in PR as well as in event management brought her to where she is today.
“During the time I was studying in Malaysia, I was producing a variety of events — from martial art competitions, proms, concerts to football matches,” the 33-year-old supermodel narrates. “I managed a team of hundreds of organizers to serve an audience of thousands, so I was already used to event production.”
From Malaysia, she traveled the world and made history atop famous architectural and natural wonders. With an exceptional creative vision and advocacy for renewable energy in the new age, Jessica made the Eiffel Tower, London’s Tower Bridge, Petronas Twin Towers, the Grand Canyon, and the JFK Airport her runway. She also successfully promoted green technology at GemaSOLAR power plant in Spain, hydroelectric power atop the Hoover Dam, sustainable supply chain in New York, “Waste-to-Wealth” practices in the Maldives, and Race For Water solar-wind-hydro powered vessel alongside bio-green technology in Malaysia.
Most recently, amidst the challenges posed by COVID-19, Jessica made the world’s first sustainable ocean catwalk possible — with extraordinary visual concepts at that. Aboard the LPG-powered cruise ship, Costa Toscana, Jessica premiered a collection of fashion brands known for their eco-friendly practices against the cinematic backdrop of the Italian Riviera.
But can fashion ever be sustainable? The industry is considered one of the most significant contributors to environmental and human damage, accounting for 10% of greenhouse gas emissions from human activity; not to mention how it’s often called out for killing animals for the sake of style and trends. For a sector that’s centered on the concept of beauty, it’s unfortunately marred by all these dark issues.
Jessica Minh Anh’s revolutionary projects are made to change this — or at least start a conversation. And there’s still a lot more she envisions to create a whole new narrative for the fashion industry.
In an exclusive interview with Vietcetera, the supermodel talks about all the mind-blowing fashion concepts she’s done over the years, her advocacy for sustainable fashion, and the impact of her Vietnamese heritage on her career.
You pulled off the world’s first sustainable ocean catwalk back in February — amidst tough COVID-19 restrictions. Tell us more about it.
I came up with the concept for all of my shows, this one included, and selected a suitable venue to convey my message. In this show, I combined 3 of my catwalk series: Sky-high catwalk, ocean catwalk, and fashion x sustainability catwalk series. This particular moment in history provides an opportunity for a sustainable “restart” of our society. Costa Toscana aligns perfectly with my mission of highlighting sustainability in a visually attractive way. It was an honor to celebrate the resurgence of business and style on a Liquefied Natural Gas-powered cruise ship.
How important are sustainability-focused fashion projects to you?
The former Minister of Defense of Spain, Mr. Pedro Morenés, introduced me to renewable energy by providing me with the Gemasolar Power Plant as my very first sustainability-focused catwalk venue after our meeting in 2015. Since then, I’ve been traveling the world to learn more about the latest technology in support of the sustainability movement, from bio-green technology by Race For Water Foundation in Kota Kinabalu and upcycling at Soneva in the Maldives, to ORCA technology in the food waste recycling and the globally sustainable supply chain by DHL Express including energy efficiency warehouses and electric fleet. Highlighting sustainability in a creative way to me is another way for people to be more receptive to the movement.
Tell us more about your Vietnamese heritage. How does your being Vietnamese impact your career?
I grew up in Moscow, Russia so my first language was Russian. I came back to Vietnam when I was ten and started to learn Vietnamese. My parents are both Vietnamese and they have instilled the Vietnamese values and culture in me, which I appreciate. I think it is important to be proud of where you are from and uphold disciplines and moral standards to stay grounded. Hard work, determination, and resilience are probably the three most important qualities I’ve learned from my parents to succeed in my career.
How do you choose the projects you work on and the organizations you work with?
I usually partner with companies that care about the health of our planet. We would share the same values, focus, and vision on sustainability and innovation. Regarding my international projects, I currently run four series: Fashion x Sustainability, Iconic Catwalks, Sky-High Catwalks, and Catwalk-On-Water. Every project I take on must highlight an important message alongside fashion. When I produced the first-ever event atop One World Trade Center, for example, I delivered a message of the strength and resilience of a new generation of leaders on the new symbol of hope and freedom of America. When I produced the “Runway on the Runway” at John F. Kennedy airport in New York, I promoted the globally sustainable supply chain by DHL.
Have you already brought this advocacy to Vietnam? What do you think of the Vietnamese fashion and tourism industries’ future in terms of sustainability?
I had a chance to speak to thousands of Vietnamese students and Vietnam national TV channels on my Fashion x Sustainability projects on my last visit to Vietnam. I am hopeful that Vietnamese youth will become more and more aware and supportive of the sustainability movement in multiple industries and not exclusively in fashion and tourism.
What other projects can we expect from you this year?
I am producing my comeback show in America on 8 September 2022 in New York. I look forward to combining fashion and technology in a big way!