7 posts tagged "models"
All eyes have been on the World Cup the past few weeks. In case you missed it (or were too busy watching the Couture shows in Paris), another of the world’s greatest sporting events, Le Tour de France, has just gotten under way. But bicycles aren’t just for guys in jerseys—fashion has adopted the bike as one of its favorite accessories. (The art set is also having a bike moment—just check out the current Joyride exhibition at the Marlborough Gallery on Broome Street, featuring cycle-inspired pieces by Ai Weiwei, KAWS, Tom Sachs, Richard Prince, Dan Colen, and more.) In honor of the historic, cross-country cycling race, which ends July 27, we put together a few of our favorite fashionable biking moments from the streets. We dare you to try biking in heels.
To view the slideshow, click here.
If anyone can fill the shoes of Kate Moss—literally and figuratively—it’s Gisele Bündchen, who has replaced the Brit supermodel as the new face (and feet) of Stuart Weitzman. Also known as the wealthiest model in history, Bündchen appears in the Mario Testino-lensed Fall ’14 campaign wearing white jeans, spiky ankle boots, and nothing else. In addition to her international appeal, perfect bronzed skin, and million-dollar physique, Bündchen’s versatility made her a natural choice for Weitzman.
The advertising campaign will appear in the U.S., Italy, France, England, Dubai, Germany, Spain, and Asia. Fans can watch a behind-the-scenes video on stuartweitzman.com.
China has emerged at the forefront of the fashion conversation with major brands such as Burberry, Dior Homme, and, most recently, Michael Kors hosting blowouts in Shanghai to build their respective presences in the region. Over the past few days, however, the country has earned negative attention after a group of more than sixty foreign models were taken into custody by officials for working illegally under tourist visas (as opposed to obtaining correct Schengen or working permits). Four people were confirmed to have been arrested, and the others will most likely face deportation. The crackdown occurred following a fake casting the Beijing police staged at Chinese agency M3, which presumably represents several of the suspected offenders. Breaking news suggests that additional models have been arrested in Guangzhou after disclosing the addresses of model apartments to authorities in efforts to cooperate. Since then, models have been advised to keep a low profile and avoid walking around in public with their portfolios and comp cards.
All of this speaks to larger problems the model industry faces, and China isn’t the only place where models run into paperwork problems. Here in the U.S., many fresh faces have gotten their big breaks during New York fashion week before having acquired proper working visas. But those types of girls are often placed with major agencies of international repute, which generally go the extra mile to ensure their models are accounted for with appropriate international visas. And so, most likely those indicted models belonged to comparatively shady agencies (that might take a shortcut and opt for easier-to-obtain tourist visas). Many suffer through professional issues, not unlike those depicted in the gripping documentary Girl Model. These are often young Eastern European girls who don’t speak a word of Chinese (or English, for that matter) and are struggling to make ends meet by stringing together jobs and staying in the country longer than their contacted period of time. You’re not about to see someone like Karmen Pedaru getting arrested. Still, these girls should have a voice, too, and it’s organizations like the Model Alliance that are making it a point to educate models about their rights and raise awareness for these issues.
“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.”
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.”
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.”
There’s no simple formula for determining the season’s top new models. With less-is-more exclusive slots and rampant agency shake-ups, these days it’s rarely a numbers game and is more about overall impact. Still, with much deliberation, we narrowed the list down to ten, but there were plenty of other fresh faces from the Spring runways who also deserve mention here.
First up is Nastya Kusakina (WOMEN), above left, an ethereal 17-year-old Russian, who opened Raf Simons’ final Jil Sander show last season, and hit it out of the park at the Spring shows. The doll-faced blonde bookended Vera Wang, opened Ann Demeulemeester and Louis Vuitton, and walked Dries Van Noten, Lanvin, and Givenchy in between.
Natasha Remarchuk (ELITE) was another girl from the Eastern Bloc who turned heads (that pout!). Keeping her show list short and selective, Remarchuk did Calvin Klein Collection in New York, Jil Sander and Prada in Milan, and six others in Paris including Alexander McQueen, Dior, and Givenchy.
Half-Belgian, half-Japanese rookie Yumi Lambert (IMG), below left, has an incredibly unique look, and followed up her major-league week in Milan, where she landed Prada, Emilio Pucci, Fendi, and Missoni, with an equally impressive Paris outing (she hit the Chanel, Dior, Nina Ricci, and Miu Miu runways).
Finally, Marikka Juhler (FORD) and Athena Wilson (FORD) both got off to impressive starts during New York, but slowed down a bit in Paris. We’re expecting Juhler, who gave off an old-school glamazon vibe at shows including Alexander Wang, Proenza Schouler, Gucci, and Lanvin; and Wilson, who popped up at Marc Jacobs, Mary Katrantzou, and Rick Owens, among others, to perform well editorially and in their sophomore seasons a few months from now.