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6 posts tagged "Du Juan"

Chinese Models Break Barriers in Beauty and Business

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liu wen 16_TOMMY SPRING 14

Photo: Tommy Ton

“Sometimes a Westerner will say to channel the thirties or forties during a photo shoot,” says New York-based model Xiao Wen Ju. “I want to tell them what China was up to then…it would terrify them!” She’s referring, of course, to the violent upheaval of a 3,000-year-old dynastic system, civil war, Japanese aggression, and Communist rule that characterized much of China’s past century.

Modeling—and fashion at large—are relatively new phenomena in modern China. It wasn’t even until 1979 that the country saw its first-ever fashion show when Pierre Cardin presented twelve French models to a bureaucratic, Mao-suit-clad crowd at Beijing’s Cultural Palace of Minorities. Today, roughly thirty-five years later, the greater China region has grown to become the world’s second-largest luxury goods market and boasts a ferocious appetite that’s largely dictating the terms of a $300 billion industry.

In the last decade, however, one contingent of girls—excuse me, women—has inadvertently become de facto cultural ambassadresses who are softly wielding their influence in meaningful ways. They are the industry’s leading Chinese models, including Du Juan, Liu Wen, Xiao Wen Ju, Xi Mengyao (or Ming Xi), Sui He, Wang Xiao, Fei Fei Sun, and Shu Pei Qin, among others, and they are introducing new notions of beauty back home in the East while simultaneously breaking racial stereotypes in the West.

It was the trailblazing Shanghai beauty Du Juan who paved the way. Following her big break—being featured on Vogue China and Paris Vogue covers in the fall of 2005—she participated in the four big fashion weeks of New York, London, Milan, and Paris. “I remember being the only Asian model at Chanel’s Spring 2006 Couture show,” she recounts. “So many backstage photographers would ask me if I was from Japan or Korea. When I would tell them that I was from China, I felt so proud.”

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Photo: Matt Irwin / Style.com PRINT

Though she is the epitome of what constitutes classic, conventional beauty in mainland China—she has wide eyes, a high nose bridge, and petite lips—Du Juan enabled those who followed to successfully fill an industry void at a time when Eastern faces were hardly choice. “There were only two or three of us Asian models back then,” she explains. “But the competition was still intense because the shows didn’t want Eastern faces, and if they did, they only wanted one.”

Since then, the number of Asian models has almost doubled from 5.4 percent to 10.1 percent from 2008 to 2013, according to Jezebel’s New York Fashion Week racial diversity report—Givenchy showed its Spring 2011 Couture collection in Paris on an all-Asian cast. Other brands, like Alexander McQueen, Fendi, Lanvin, Louis Vuitton, and Valentino, have even taken measures to stage elaborate runway productions (similar to Mr. Cardin’s) in Beijing or Shanghai.

Chinese models have also been placed in barrier-breaking campaigns in the West. The Hunan-born model Liu Wen, for example, was the first Chinese model cast for international beauty brand Estée Lauder and as an alluring Victoria’s Secret Angel. “I want people to gain a deeper understanding toward Chinese models and not just think that we are only suited to wear red,” she says. “Even a lot of Chinese people will think that we are demure, so I hope to spread a more empowering image of Asian beauty that is characterized by strength and personality.”

For model Xiao Wen Ju, her unconventional looks made for a rocky start to modeling. “Girls love to look at themselves in the mirror, right? But every time I would look at myself, I would just think that I looked so unattractive,” she says. “When I first began modeling outside of China, people would ask me, ‘How can you be so pretty?’ I was shocked.”

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Photo: Greg Kessler

It was only then that she stopped using double-stick tape for her eyelids and exaggerating her makeup to make her eyes look bigger (both are requisites for go-sees in mainland China), and the industry and fans alike responded in kind. “I was so happy when I saw Weibo and Instagram—people in China were talking about me, like, ‘Xiao is so good, she was so brave to be herself.’ Before I came [to New York], I wanted to change who I was, but now I really love it.”

Other bold statements, like Fei Fei Sun’s January 2013 Vogue Italia cover, shot by photographer Steven Meisel; Ming Xi’s buoyant energy in an SS’14 Diesel campaign captured by Inez & Vinoodh; or Sui He as a fierce face for Shiseido, shot by Nick Knight, have helped move the diversity needle, but there’s still a long way to go. VFiles’ Model Files series recently spoofed the growing demand for Asians in modeling by creating a fictitious all-Asian modeling agency called The Asiancy, which ultimately drew attention to the industry’s overwhelming whiteness.

“There certainly are many more Asian women on the runways and rosters of modeling agencies than before,” says veteran casting director Jennifer Starr, who gave both Wang Xiao and Sui He their breaks with CK One and Ralph Lauren, respectively, in 2011. “There’s even an Asian woman representing a major [Western] cosmetics brand. Yes, things are changing. We need to applaud that change, educate people on the need to continue in that direction, and to make the pages of our magazines and our runways as culturally diverse as the streets of our global cities.”

Moschino Courts Shanghai

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Du Juan in Moschino's opening Resort '14 look; Massimo Ferretti, Zhang Ziyi, and designer Rossella Jardini

It was Moschino’s first attempt at wooing the Shanghai fashion set down at South Bund’s artificial beach last night. A huge black tent was the backdrop for an evening of classic Moschino looks, including the brand’s Resort ’14 show, the men’s Spring ’14 collection, and a trip down memory lane to revisit the Moschino archives.

The show opened with Chinese supermodel Du Juan sporting a white coatdress with a front vertical flounce from the neck to the hem. Her ensemble was topped with a Chinese hat from Northern Song Dynasty, reserved for the traditional judges (above, left). Moschino was saying it loud and clear, “China, here I come.”

Actress Zhang Ziyi (above, center) sat front row as the show opened with some graphic, ladylike looks that had a trompe l’oeil effect. The color red was omnipresent throughout the collection, as were bouquets of vivid floral-print dresses coupled with gold platform sandals and heavy bangles. The men’s range was equally upbeat, boasting preppy wares, again with lots of red. An electrifying lightning-bolt print gave the tailoring a punch. The finale was packed with some of Moschino’s most memorable runway moments, like beaded matadors, sensual gypsies, heavy embellished eighties party dresses, gold metallic fringed coats, and chained bolero jackets. It was great to see all the pieces again, and to remember the legacy left behind by the late founder, Franco Moschino.

Models Emma Pei and Wang Zhu Xiao Yin; and Du Juan & Zhao Lei at the Moschino party in Shanghai

After the show, guests poured out on to the beach. Pink and red hearts filled the pool, and partygoers relaxed on the Balinese-style daybeds, which were swathed in long white curtains. The DJ pumped dance music while the champagne flowed and the fashion pack welcomed yet another house to their beloved city of the Orient, Shanghai.

Photos: Courtesy of Moschino

Stella McCartney Makes Her Mark in Asia

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Stella McCartney at her new Beijing boutiqueAn English pub isn’t the first thing one might expect to see in the middle of a luxury mall in Beijing. But leave it to Stella McCartney to bring a taste of the UK to the Chinese megalopolis. Tuesday night, the designer opened her first Beijing store and invited guests to toast the milestone with pints of Guinness and Pimm’s Cups. Partygoers noshed on chips and tapped their toes to nineties Brit pop while perusing the airy two-story boutique. Fittingly, the eco-conscious McCartney chose a green location for the new space. Replete with sustainable oak parquet floors and recyclable aluminum tiles, the shop is set inside the recently opened Parkview Green mall—the first LEED-certified commercial development in China.

 

McCartney wasn’t long for Beijing, though, as the opening was just one leg of a whirlwind Asian tour. Earlier in the week, McCartney traveled to Tokyo to open her second store in the city, and Wednesday night she hosted a black-tie dinner at the Astor House Hotel in Shanghai. In true McCartney style, the event, which drew local celebrities, as well as catwalkers such as Du Juan and Emma Pei, boasted everything from contortionist acts to live jazz to a presentation of evening looks from the designer’s Fall ’13 collection.

Photos: Courtesy of Stella McCartney

Givenchy’s All-Asian Model Lineup At Haute Couture

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Riccardo Tisci is famous for his meticulous casting: Rumor around Paris during men’s fashion week was that he begins casting his shows as far as six months in advance to get the perfect mix. No surprise, then, that the models who hit the boards for his Fall 2011 men’s show (including a few ladies, like Daphne Groeneveld, Saskia de Brauw, and Joan Smalls) made for one of the best lineups of the week. His Givenchy Haute Couture collection was shown in Paris today, and he’s attempted another casting coup: using only Asian models, including Ming Xi, Fei Fei Sun, Liu Wen, Shu Pei Qin, Du Juan, Ai Tominaga, and Tao Okamoto. Check it out above, and check back shortly for the full Givenchy Fall 2011 couture show.

Photo: Courtesy of Givenchy

Y-3′s Cup Runneth Over

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With the World Cup fast approaching, there’s been a veritable scrimmage of fashion labels racing to cash in on soccer mania. Not Y-3, which has been feeling footer since the beginning—but that doesn’t mean it’s immune to a little timely expansion. The Yohji Yamamoto-designed, Adidas-produced label recently opened its doors in Hong Kong, inaugurating a new retail space in the city’s K11 Art Mall. Yohji Yamamoto and a truckload of Asian celebrities were on hand to check out the store and a presentation of the Spring 2010 Y-3 collection, which offered an abstract interpretation of World Cup dressing. That meant creating abstract flag motifs in the colors of the eight Adidas-sponsored soccer federations worldwide (South Africa, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Spain, Argentina, France, and Russia) and limited-edition trainers for the guys. For womenswear, voluminous skirts and platform sandals didn’t exactly suggest field-readiness, but with Yamamoto, it’s the inspiration—not necessarily the execution—that’s ready for the pitch. Case in point: his laser-cut tees (modeled here by Chinese catwalker Du Juan, pictured with Yamamoto and actor/musician Andy Lau) inspired by the shape of the swinging soccer net after a point is scored. Gooooal!

Photo: Courtesy of Y-3