Meet The 67-Year-Old Model Who Graced The KLFW 2022 Runway For Rizman Ruzaini

One of Malaysia's top models in the '80s shares her thoughts on her most recent show.

Cover image via Selberan & Rizman Ruzaini

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It was the third day of KL Fashion Week (KLFW) 2022. Walking down the runway for Malaysian designer duo Rizman Ruzaini were household names such as Nasha Aziz, Amber Chia, and Alicia Amin.

One model in particular, however, stood out. Standing at just a little over 163cm tall is 67-year-old Shashah Hamid, one of Malaysia's top models back in the '80s.

Her height was not the only trait that distinguished her from the rest. Hamid — whose real name is Siti Haslinda Abdul Hamid — had a different way of strutting down the runway. "The catwalk back then is not the same one you see today. We did not frown, walk in a straight line, nor did we restrict ourselves to staring straight ahead," the Singaporean native explained in an interview with SAYS. "Models were not just there to promote the clothes. Our job was to entertain the audience."

Keeping the same figure she had all her life paid off. The former top model is still posing for cameras today.

The smiles that lit up the faces of the audience at KLFW's VIP sitting area when Hamid danced, grinned, and waved at them is a testament to this. Though many in the entertainment industry have no clue who she is, they were all equally mesmerised when the 67-year-old walked past in her heels. 

Her way of moving and twirling for the audience was different — almost alien. This was perhaps the reason why local fashion giants Rizman Ruzaini reached out to her in the first place.

"My last runway was for the National Cancer Society of Malaysia (NCSM) in 2018. While I have never stopped doing photoshoots, I never once thought the day would come where I would still walk down the runway," the eldest daughter of legendary actress Seniwati Mariani Ismail and Assistant Director of Shaw Brothers Studio Abdul Hamid Mohammad shared. 

"Then I received a message from Rizman and Ruzaini's assistant telling me that they would love to book me for KLFW."

From living under the shadow of giants to paving her own way in the local fashion scene, she's come a long way

Born and raised in Singapore, Hamid had a promising start in life when she did well in school. The straight A student soon came to the bitter realisation that she would not be able to complete her education because of her underprivileged background. At the tender age of 13, Hamid did what she had to do — drop out of school and earn money to make ends meet as a dancer.

After several years of dancing, she gained her Malaysian citizenship in 1973 and moved in with P. Ramlee and Saloma, whom she affectionately referred to as Mama and Daddy. At the time, both Hamid's mother and aunt pushed her to join their ranks in the entertainment industry as either a singer or an actress. 

Hamid was intrigued at first, "[Saloma] and I were very close. She would bring me along for her rehearsals at the nightclubs where she performed. I loved watching her putting on her makeup every night before she gets on stage. I would secretly use her makeup once she left for work."

Despite their encouragement, Hamid decided that she no longer shared the same dreams both her mother and aunt did. She knew that she would frequently be compared to legends the second she started acting and singing, something that terrified the teenager. "I decided to make it in my own way — as a model," she told SAYS.

In her late sixties, Shashah Hamid has no plans to retire

It wasn't all sunshine and rainbows. Hamid was at least half a foot shorter than her peers. As a result of this, the then-21-year-old was not treated well when she first started out in the industry. "You needed to be at least 5'7. I do believe that clothes will fall on you beautifully when you're tall but what I don't get is the constant need to undermine shorter models who are good at what they do."

Hamid chuckles, recalling how the mistreatment only made her stronger. At 67 years old, she is one of the few models who still feature on the covers and pages of fashion magazines like GLAM. "I'm grateful to still be around until now and I appreciate the youngsters like Cheah Wei Chun, Rizman, and Ruzaini, who trust me to do my job."

The mother-of-three does not plan on retiring anytime soon. So long as people still remember her work and her passion for fashion, Hamid is just a call away: "If I am able and fit, I will be honoured to walk down the runway again."

Asked what advice she had to give for those interested in becoming models, Hamid had only this to say. "It's a cutthroat industry. They need to be strong, they must believe in themselves and most importantly, they should never give up. If they truly believe that this is what they want, all they need to do is go for it!"

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