When it comes to posing for the camera, Tuti Noor is one of the fiercest models around. The Malaysian lass ignites our pages as she talks to Abdul Aziz Draim about her unconventional beauty, overcoming doubts and making Jakarta her second home.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY CHEE WEI. STYLING BY MIN LUNA.
Tuti Noor wears looks and accessories from the Bottega Veneta Autumn/Winter 2022-23 collection throughout.
It was back in 2016, on Asia’s Next Top Model Cycle 4 when Tuti Noor first entered our hearts. Already the winner of modelling competition X Top Model Search Malaysia in 2012, Tuti was a fan favourite to walk away with the title of the reality TV competition. However, although she possessed the physical qualities of a top model—long limbs, a natural at poses and an edgy beauty that photographed beautifully—the Taiping-born lass struggled with self-confidence and had yet to come to terms with accepting her own unconventional beauty, resulting in her elimination in episode 9.
But oh, what an exit.
When host Cindy Bishop asked her, “You know you’re good, you know that right?” Tuti initially shook her head timidly, before Cindy pressed her again, “I’m not letting you leave before you tell me that.” Then, in a moment that showed off her wit and influence on the show, Tuti smiled and replied, “Maybe I’m just too good for this competition.” Cue howls of approval, finger snaps and applause from the judges and her fellow contestants. Tuti was slowly coming into her own.
Six years has passed since that moment and today, Tuti Noor—who turns 30 this month—has found the confidence and honed her skills to justifiably become one of Malaysia’s most sought-after models. Now travelling between Kuala Lumpur, Bali and Jakarta where she is currently based, the 175 cm tall stunner shows no sign of slowing down as she spreads her wings to Indonesia.
We first got to know you through Asia’s Next Top Model. What made you sign up for the show?
My friend (photographer) Bibo Aswan was the one who encouraged me and helped me sign up. He supported me and gave me the confidence to apply.
What did it feel like when you got eliminated?
It felt shocking, to be honest. I wasn’t ready to go home and was hoping to make it at least to top three. That was also what I meant when I said “I am too good for the competition”, in the sense that I gave and did my best. However, it’s a reality show program after all. I also learned my lesson afterwards, especially when it comes to a commercial shoot—I now think of it as a business decision.
Did the elimination give you doubts about joining the industry?
I did have doubts entering the industry because when I first started I was unsure about the modelling scene; how models should present themselves and whether I had what it takes to be a model. All the experiences I have had throughout my career really shaped my perspective on the industry. It gradually prepared me, both physically and mentally as a model. I faced so many rejections and experienced some struggles, yet it made me stronger and drove me to grow, also gave me challenges that I gladly overcame.
“After the pandemic, my perspective about life has shifted, so for now, my plan is simply to continue working and growing, be better personally and mentally in order to give my very best self when it comes to my career.”
Biggest lesson learned from the show?
I learned that the biggest competition is actually with myself. I also learned that to be a good model, you have to channel your weakness into your strength just by being present and not being too serious about it. Because when you enjoy doing something, you will naturally do your best without feeling so much pressure.
Which models did you look up to when you first started?
Ah, I have to name a few because the senior local models have their own uniqueness, amazing presence and their own character! Of course I adore and look up to Tengku Azura, Anita Aziz, Deanna Ibrahim and Tinie.
Your most challenging shoot to date?
I think for me, beauty shoots are always a struggle because I’d say that I’m quite unconventional, but it’s a good kind of challenge for me and I like challenges!
You are now trying out the industry in Jakarta. What influenced that decision?
I have been working together with (Indonesian-based) Wynn Models agency for almost 7 years now and I can say that Jakarta is my second home. I’m so honoured to be working with talented people from the industry and the best designers such as Biyan, Sapto Djojokartiko, Sebastian Gunawan … The Diana Vreeland quote “The eye has to travel” is also my belief, especially working in a creative industry, I couldn’t agree more. I think travelling and being able to work overseas really taught me a lot of things, both professionally and personally. I feel that when we are in places that aren’t familiar or out of our comfort zone, we grow.
How long will you be based there?
As for now, I’ll be based in Jakarta since the industry is just starting to recover so it’s a good opportunity to be there, as I am able to work together with creative and talented minds that can mutually stimulate the creative vision. After the pandemic, my perspective about life has shifted, so for now, my plan is simply to continue working and growing, be better personally and mentally in order to give my very best self when it comes to my career.
What do you do to maintain your physique as a model?
Maintaining my physique as a model is very important not only for my career but also for my general wellbeing. My morning routine starts with meditation and exercise. I also like to have long walks so I do my best to walk every day. Oh, and one tip: add one spoon of apple cider vinegar and lemon in a glass of water. Also, don’t ever forget your sunscreen!
“I would tell (aspiring models), and to also remind myself, that we need to embrace every inch, every imperfection that makes us perfect in our own way. We are enough, so celebrate your beauty and have fun!”
Do you have plans to venture into other industries?
Right now I’m focusing on my modelling career but in the future I would like to have my own agency or model scout.
You once shared in an interview that when you first started out, you were fortunate to get tips and guidance from senior models. Now that you have become one of our most established models out there, what advice would you offer aspiring models?
There are times when these younger models come for a guidance and I have to say that working in the fashion industry is not always glamorous and fun. We are models, like a canvas, and to put yourself out there to be seen and judge—your beauty, your personality and vulnerability—is not that easy to overcome. I would tell them, and to also remind myself, that we need to embrace every inch, every imperfection that makes us perfect in our own way. We are enough, so celebrate your beauty and have fun!
View this post on Instagram
Creative director: Abdul Aziz Draim
Associate art director: Khairani Ramli
Hair: David Shaw
Make-up: Adam De Cruz
Videographer: Soo Teng
Video Editor: Bei
Set design: Khabir Roslan & Amirul Yazid
Stylist’s assistant: San Singh
Tuti Noor wears the Autumn/Winter 2022/23 collection throughout.