In an industry that has largely ignored Asian models in the past, designers and creative directors alike are forgoing fair-skinned blondes, and instead employing a more diverse lineup. 2010 saw a change in the model tide, and beyond industry anchors like Filipina Anna Bayle, Tina Chow and former Angelina Jolie-flame Jenny Shimizu, the runways are evolving with new names from the far east to watch out for.
The trend of incorporating global markets isn’t only to keep accusations of political incorrectness at bay anymore. Rather, the world is taking note of the strikingly rare features found overseas. US Vogue‘s December issue affectionately declared that the recent prominence of Asian models is “redefining traditional concepts of beauty,” and we like to think the progression’s here to stay. Step aside Lindsey and Abbey Lee, there’s a new bunch of girls in town! Literally they’re staying in New York for Fashion Week.
You’ve been warned.
Korean model Hyoni Kang got her start as the Ford Supermodel of the World winner in January 2008, and made her New York debut just a month later as she opened the 3.1 phillip lim Fall 2008 show. Seemlessly transitioning from runway to print, she landed her first cover of Korean Vogue in April. After opening Trovata's Spring show in September, she appeared in editorials for Harper's Bazaar, V, Spanish Vogue and, most recently, Marie Claire.
Shu Pei of NEXT model management made her debut at Rachel Roy's New York show in September 2007. The Chinese model split her time between New York and Paris for SS11 shows, walking for Rebecca Taylor, Vivienne Westwood, Christian Dior and John Galliano. Most notably, Shu signed a cosmetics contract with Maybelline in August of 2010.
Signed by IMG, Lily Zhi hails from China. Thanks to her runway-ready proportions (she's 5'11!), she walked in what seems like a trillion RTW SS11 shows, including Charlotte Ronson, Tory Burch and Tracy Reese (IMG). Lily was also featured in US Vogue's December 2010 editorial, "Asia Major."
Lily Zhi for Trias RTW SS11
Lily Zhi for Tory Burch RTW SS11
Chinese native Liu Wen of is most recognized for her being the first Asian to walk in the biggest lingerie show to grace the runway, the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show. Liu got quiet a start thanks to past editorials in both Vogue China and Harpers Bazaar China, the former of which she's been featured in (or on) nearly 20 times. More recently, she signed on as the first Chinese Estee Lauder spokesmodel last year, the first ethnic model since 2003's Liya Kebede. We like to think it's because of her to-die-for cheekbones and contagious smile.
Fei Fei Sun was hand-picked by Karl Lagarfeld for his Chanel Paris-Shanghai 2010 pre-fall show, likely because of her undeniably tempting pout. She was most recently featured in V Magazine's January 2011 issue. While the Chinese model with closed for 3.1 Phillip Lim and walked for Vera Wang, Lanvin, Valentino in SS11, her H&M 2010 Holiday campaign made her a household name.
Fei Fei Sun for DSquared2 Spring 2011
Fei Fei Sun with Du Juan for H&M Holiday 2010
Tokyo-born Tao Okamoto is likely they only 21-year-old in the world who can successfully rock a bowl cut. Tao was first noticed when she appeared in the Dolce & Gabbana spring 2007 look book, but 2009 was Okamoto's big year she became one of the faces of Ralph Lauren, named "Girl of the Moment" by Teen Vogue in it's December/January issue and, most notably, Japanese Vogue dedicated their November 2009 issue to her. Despite skipping September 2008's fashion week, she reemerged as the 3.1 phillip lim opener in New York.
Bonnie Chen, best known for her killer cheekbones and even better street style, was born in China. She walked for Elie Tahari and Monique Lhuillier for F/W 2010, and later became one of the faces of Benetton alongside Ann Kenny and Chrishell Stubbs. She's appeared in Vogue China twice, and the now-infamous US Vogue editorial "Asia Major" photographed by Steven Meisel.
Bonnie Chen for Benetton F/W 2010
A former ballerina and Miss China title holder, Du Juan signed with IMG in 2005 and was featured on the premier issue of Chinese Vogue alongside Gemma Ward that same year. The two met up again for the cover of October French Vogue, lensed by Mario Testino. Juan became the face of Roberto Cavalli, Benetton, and, likely her most rewarding feat, replaced Agyness Deyn in 2008 as the face of Georgio Armani. Besides walking in Chanel's pre-fall show in Shanghai, Juan spent 2010 appearing in Chinese Vogue 5 times.
This Chinese model who once said, "I love my black hair but some times I'd like to be blond, but I don't think it suits Asian girl ... What a pity!" made her debut as the face of Givenchy in 2009, modeling exclusively for the spring couture show in Paris. Ming Xi was featured as a face to watch on Models.com in January 2010, and rightfully so she walked House of Holland, Christian Dior, Jil Sander, Pucci, Vivienne Westwood, Givenchy, Kenzo and John Galliano Fall shows in Paris, London and Milan. She landed her first cover in September of 2010, photographed by Peter Lindbergh for Chinese Vogue. Our advice to Ming Xi: Blond is Out!
It could have been pure luck - in 2005, Hye Park attended an open model casting at her the University of Utah as a sophomore and debuted in New York Anna Sui, Marc Jacobs and Prada shows less than a year later. She replaced Lily Donaldson as the face of MaxMara in July 2008. She's appeared on 6 covers, four times being Korean Vogue, with no signs of slowing down.
Hye Park for MaxMara F/W 2008