When you’re a young model, like 19-year-old Iman Fandi, nothing is more indispensable than a good mentor. Thankfully, she didn’t have to look too far. Her mother, Wendy Jacobs, started strutting her pins on runways at just 13.
In a collision of fate, Wendy now dishes out modelling advice, amongst other things, to her daughter, Iman, whom she shares with Singapore’s legendary footballer, Fandi Ahmad. The couple has five children together. Iman, their only girl, is their middle child.
[Having] five is nice, seven would be nicerWendy Jacobs on her kids
“I think I’ve been very blessed to have five kids with very different personalities,” says Wendy. “So every time I’m talking to one child, it’s always a different conversation, and I think I’ve grown from them as much as they have grown from me and my nurturing.
“With Iman, my baby girl, and the only girl among the boys, I’m so proud of the young woman she’s become. She’s determined to do what she wants, and it’s nice that her passion ended up aligning with my passion. Her star is going to continue to rise, but I’ll be there if she stumbles – always.”
The South African beauty, who at 46 years old, still gives models half her age a run for their money, recently celebrated her own milestone. After calling Singapore home for 24 years, Wendy took up citizenship in January 2020 and now has a pink identity card to call her own.
Iman, too, is making her own mark on the Little Red Dot. Her modelling career knows no bounds with features in top local magazines and collaborations with beauty brands like Estee Lauder. And she now wants to pursue music, something that has always provided a creative outlet for the up-and-coming fashionista, whom her mother still refers to as her “princess”.
The greatest gift [my parents] have given me is independenceIman Fandi
“Mummy has always given me tips on how to pose, how to behave professionally at photo shoots, and she’s introduced me to the right people in the industry. It’s changed a little bit since I’ve grown older; I used to attend events with her, but now she comes to events with me,” she shares.
Like Mother, Like Daughter
While the mother-daughter pair entered the modelling industry in two different eras, they both share strikingly similar features: Piercing chocolate eyes, full lips, exquisite bone structure and natural bouncy curls. Some would even say Iman is a carbon copy of her iconic mother, who first appeared on our cover in 1998 and again in 2017. It’s a comparison the 19-year-old relishes.
“It’s such a compliment,” beams Iman. “It’s a nice thing to hear people say that because my mummy has such a good reputation in the industry. People talk so highly of her. She’s respectful and humble, and she’s taught me to be all those things as well, so if anything, I like the comparison.”
Asked what she thinks of her daughter’s response, Wendy laughs heartily and says she can’t believe the good luck she’s had when it comes to all her children.
Mother Knows Best
“If I could do it all again, I would have seven kids. I don’t regret having five, even though people said it was too many. I don’t think so. Five is nice, seven would be nicer,” she muses.
“I always tell my kids, ‘thank you for making me a mum’. It was harder when they were little, they took up much more of my time, but now everyone has charted their own path, doing their own thing. And now that they’re older, I miss them. I miss the process of mothering.
I think, a lot of the times, women tend to lose themselves when they become mothers, but I built motherhood around my careerWendy Jacobs
“Motherhood is different now. It’s more about letting my kids go to pursue their goals and ambitions. So for me, I have to give them the space to fulfil their dreams, but I always let them know that I stand behind whatever they do – 100 per cent. If something goes wrong, they know they can always come to me. I’ll be there.”
Milestones Over Commercial Holidays
When it comes to Mother’s Day, Wendy prefers to celebrate milestones, pointing out that many holidays have become too commercial for her liking.
“I’m not doing anything because every day should be Mother’s Day,” she declares. “It’s true! No Mother’s Day, Father’s Day or Valentine’s Day for me, I’m not a big fan of all that. But I do think of my mother during this time, and I thank her for everything she’s done for me.”
Motherhood is different now. It’s more about letting my kids go to pursue their goals and ambitionsWendy Jacobs
When asked about her relationship with her mum, 70-year-old Charmaine Jacobs, Wendy had this to say: “Through thick and thin, her kids were her number one priority. I wish I could be as good a mother as her; she’s my best friend.”
Best Friends Forever
It’s a sentiment Iman can get behind. “Most parents are just ‘no, no, no’, but my mum is very chill. She really is my best friend or more like an older sister, because we do things together that my brothers can’t,” she reveals.
“I feel really lucky because when I listen to my friends talk about how strict their parents are, it really makes me appreciate my parents more because they have never held me back. The greatest gift they’ve given me is independence.”
Detailing how her parents didn’t clip her wings whenever she wanted to do something of worth, Iman attributes her personal growth to her mother’s highly-independent nature. Wendy agrees.
Great Mum, Great Career
“I’m pretty strong-willed,” says the mother of five. “It was important to me when I had my first child that I didn’t lose my identity as a woman. I think, a lot of the times, women tend to lose themselves when they become mothers, but I built motherhood around my career.
“I didn’t want to give up modelling just because I was a mum. It was good for my children to grow up seeing that I had my own career and that I enjoyed my job. They saw that I was pretty good at it and they loved to see me working.”
Mummy is an absolute fighter and a powerful woman; she’s my inspiration. She makes me want to be better in every wayIman Fandi
The only break Wendy took from modelling was when she suffered health complications from a fall she had in 2008. That took her out of action for several years as she sought to regain her strength. Her ordeal served as a lesson in tenacity for her children.
“My mum is the strongest person I know,” says Iman. “Mummy is an absolute fighter and a powerful woman; she’s my inspiration. She makes me want to be better in every way – she’s my superhero. ”
Photos: Veronica Tay, assisted by Phyllicia Wang
Art Direction and Stylist: Martin Wong
Hair and Makeup: Grego Oh and Manisa Tan, using Tom Ford Beauty
Location: The Barracks Hotel, Sentosa