This feature story was originally titled as Beyond the Spotlight, and was published in the April 2007 issue of Tatler Philippines
“I knew it was time [to retire] because I wasn’t having fun any more in what I was doing.” So wrote the first Asian supermodel Anna Bayle (pronounced Bay-lee) in an e-mail from New York. When she ended her career on the catwalk, Bayle was one of the highest paid fashion models in the world, having succeeded in getting into the fashion runway’s coveted top-10 enclave. Two of her contemporaries, the Brazilian Dalma and the African Iman, had already retired three, four years earlier but she, who was in her 30s then, was still working beside 17-year-old models, prompting her agent to call her “a miracle.”
It was, however, time to move on.
“I actually orchestrated my retirement,” she said. When Bayle started modelling internationally in the eighties, she told herself that since her first stint was with a top designer (Thierry Mugler), her last would be with a top designer as well.
“So years before I retired, I already asked Christian Lacroix, who I am very close to, that when the time comes, to tell me and I’ll pack it in then. I told him I want to stop with the best. We had this understanding and I worked for years with him until he told me it was time. And his was the very last show that I did,” she related.
Bayle may have ended her season on the runway but not her life in fashion. Settled in New York, her second home, she exposed herself to the other aspects of the beautiful world she entered at the age of 16.
Enrolled at the University of the Philippines then as a premed scholar and a member of the varsity basketball team, Bayle was urged by her friends to join the Miss World beauty pageant. “I saw that the finals were going to be held in London and I had always wanted to see Big Ben, so I joined,” said the model in an earlier interview.
Though she did not win the title, she caught the eye of the local fashion designer Auggie Cordero. A close relationship began with Cordero as mentor and Bayle as student. From the designer the teenage model learned everything that is to know about fashion. Her eyes opened to the exciting world of this profession in the fashion capitals of the world and she began to dream of going out there to try her luck.