Digital Cover: Fiona McLeish x Van Cleef & Arpels

Motherhood brings positive change and a fair share of challenges. Scottish-Chinese model Fiona McLeish has found herself right in the midst of this transformative experience. She tells Ha Rin Choi about finding joy upon the birth of her son, Calihan, and how jewellery can define lasting moments

Fiona McLeish has made a solid name for herself as a model, boasting an impressive portfolio featuring the likes of Miu Miu, Gucci, Hermès and Jimmy Choo. You’ve likely spotted her in ad campaigns on billboards around town and several ViuTV series. But arguably, they all pale in comparison to her new role as mother of her bouncing baby boy, Calihan.

Tartan bow back corset and suit trousers from Ralph Lauren; Perlée diamonds pavé ring in 18K yellow gold with diamonds; Perlée signature bracelet in 18K yellow gold; Perlée pearls of gold 1-row bracelet in 18K yellow gold; and Perlée diamonds bracelet in 18k yellow gold with diamonds from Van Cleef & Arpels

“I think the biggest change, though obvious, is having to care for another human apart from my husband,” the model says with a laugh. “Calihan is now attending playgroup classes every day of the week, so I try my best to go with him. It just brings me so much joy to see him happy and learning new things.”

Feather embellished asymmetric dress from Loewe; Perlée diamonds 5-row ring in 18K yellow gold with sapphires; Perlée pearls of gold 1-row ring in 18K yellow gold; Perlée sweet clovers ring in 18K yellow gold with diamonds; and Magic Alhambra 1-motif long necklace in 18K yellow gold with onyx from Van Cleef & Arpels

It’s an emotion McLeish describes as contagious. “I always want to be happy and pass on positive energy to the people around me. A lot of things bring me joy. Having met my other half and having a baby, I feel really blessed,” she says. “It brings me so much joy to see my husband and son happy when they laugh and play. It’s the little moments and even the simple ones, like reading a bedtime story together or just being silly and dancing.”

McLeish still finds delight in other aspects of what makes her the woman she is today, among them eating, travelling and shopping. “I also love to play sports and go swimming,” she says. Keeping positive and maintaining inner balance, she dedicates afternoons to herself by going to the gym and seeing friends.

Tartan bow back corset and suit trousers from Ralph Lauren

As a model and style icon, McLeish formed a relationship with fashion at a young age. “My mother loves to shop. Growing up, she would always make me accompany her when she went shopping, and I’d sit on the couch to wait. I was not into it. But growing up, I find I’m going into my mum’s closet to borrow this and that – and vice versa,” she says.

Never did she imagine her attitude towards fashion would pivot, and she would carve a career path in fashion and jewellery as a lifestyle influencer.

Dua linen cut out dress from Cult Gaia at Net-a-porter; Perlée Couleurs transformable long necklace in 18K yellow gold with carnelian; Perlée Toi & Moi secret watch in 18K rose gold with diamonds, carnelian, black pietersite and white mother-of-pearl; Perlée diamonds 5-row ring in 18K yellow gold with diamonds; Perlée pearls of gold 1-row ring in 18K yellow gold; Perlée pearls of gold 1-row bracelet in 18k yellow gold; Perlée diamonds 1-row bracelet in 18K yellow gold with diamonds; and Vintage Alhambra 5-motif bracelet in guiloché 18K yellow gold from Van Cleef & Arpels

McLeish’s adoration for jewellery also grew from early family memories. “My favourite piece of jewellery is a bracelet my parents got for me for my 18th birthday, which I hope one day I can pass on to my daughter, if I’m blessed with one,” she says. “I also love earrings. I feel uncomfortable if I leave the house without [them]. But, interestingly, my mum didn’t let me pierce my ears until I was 18. And when I did, I wasn’t that interested and only pierced them when a modelling job required me to do so.”

Dark green silk ruched top from Bottega Veneta; Oatmeal blazer and trousers from Brunello Cucinelli; Strappy heeled sandals from Bottega Veneta

Jewellery has the power to impact one’s entire style, McLeish says. Adding to her everyday ensemble of jeans, a jumper and a Chanel bag, fine accessories can elevate a look as a final touch. “I love wearing jewellery. It can transform someone’s look to add character and style, whether it be edgy or a more feminine look,” she says.

McLeish says jewellery is also a way for her to express herself. “Jewellery can symbolise a lot, from strength and courage to a more feminine and soft look. I particularly like Van Cleef & Arpel’s Alhambra collection because it offers a wide range of gemstones from mother-of-pearl to tiger’s-eye, all timeless and elegant.”

Pink corset inspired dress with buckle from Versace; Perlée diamonds pavé earrings in 18K white gold with diamonds; Perlée Couleurs bracelet in 18K gold with turquoise and diamonds; Perlée pearls of gold 1-row bracelet in 18K white gold; Perlée Couleurs ring in 18K white gold with turquoise; and Perlée Sweet Clovers ring in 18K white gold with diamonds from Van Cleef & Arpels

After meeting her husband, Kevin Poon, McLeish’s life became more spontaneous. “He tends to book flights for trips just the day before. I used to worry about a lot of things, but there’s no point in worrying because it’s all in your head anyway,” she says, adding that she now faces even more unpredictability since the arrival of her son. Luckily, she has the loving support of her family.

“I’m very lucky to have my mother-in-law and mother who love Calihan dearly and can help me to look after him too,” she says. Regardless, being a working mum isn’t getting in the way of her love for fashion.

Scarf draped minidress from Nanushka at Net-a-porter; Red pointed platform shoes from Versace

Just as her childhood experiences have led her to where she is now, one day, she’s looking forward to passing on jewellery to her kids. “A jewellery piece passed on from mother to daughter is such a meaningful tradition and a memory that will last forever.”

Creative concept and production / #legend
Photographer / The Buffacow
Producer / Iris Cheng at Samagana Studio
Director of photography / Owen Wong
Gaffer / Sing
Best boy / Mike Lam
Stylist / Nieki
Styling Assistant / Tracy Giu
Makeup / Jenny Shih
Hair / Him Ng

Also see: Fashion cover: Fiona McLeish on her career and future

In this Story: #legend100 / #DIGITAL / #video