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CHINA FOREVER!

The fast rising Xiao Wen  at IMG flows effortlessly with the standard  runway ideal.The fast rising Xiao Wen at IMG flows effortlessly with the standard runway ideal.

Did you hear that very juicy tidbit about a certain venerable editor who rang up Angelica Cheung, the editor of Vogue China, to find out what her secret for those booming ad pages could be ? While much of the publishing world has been struggling with the repercussions of a recession, the unimpeded march of Vogue China to maximum advertising and editorial visibility has been the proverbial shining example of Chinese fashion relevance. A few months ago TI had occasion to be at a dinner with Mrs Cheung in Beijing where the very direct and no-nonsense editor posed some thought provoking questions. She wanted to know what was it that could be done to boost the number of Chinese models on the Western market. And she was curious as why the Chinese models who did seem to advance on the campaign and editorial level seemed so far from the current Chinese cultural standard of beauty.

The latter question was easy to answer. If "beauty" is culturally derived then a Western mindset can only re-filter and select the ideal Chinese model based on the reigning stereotypes of New York, London, Milan and Paris. As such Liu Wen, Fei Fei Sun, Sui He, Shu Pei, Ming Xi, Wang Xaio, and the fast rising Xiao Wen Ju flow effortlessly with the standard runway ideal. The first question posed by Cheung though, was the one that surprised. There was at the time, 5 Chinese girls cycling on the high end editorial market . That seemed like a lot, I thought and was a vast improvement over the situation 3 years ago, when frankly there were none. But the fact that this editor found it inadequate made me realize how far reaching the ambitions were in China to establish an international fashion presence. The strength of this market was not going to accept a quota.

It was while having lunch near Lincoln Center this weekend , this time with a group of Japanese editors, that the extent of that Chinese model expansion really impacted itself. That banal question, "Which country is now the hottest model source?", came up and of course with lazy thinking I ventured "The Netherlands ( Lara Stone, Saskia, Daphne Groevneld, Laura Kampman, Milou, Mirte Mass, Numue, Marique) but then I was reminded of the recent explosion of Chinese models and suddenly it became clear that a shift in thinking is about to hit the modeling industry.

In the same way that the big brand designers of the West are coiling themselves slowly around the realization that China's massive population and fast growing consumer class could promise to be a financial salvation in the face of the incessant financial instability of North America and Europe, China is processing the way that success in New York or Paris changes a girl's value in her home country. Liu Wen and Shu Pei being the faces of high visibility cosmetics brands like Estee Lauder and Maybelline not only signal that more brands are going to be moving in that direction, it also means model scouts are going to have keep scoring China for more fresh prospects as that client demand builds and builds.

The conventional wisdom at most modeling agencies have always been that if you had a Chinese girl or two then this was all the market was going to absorb. But when the Chinese ideal is now becoming as present as the Dutch presence, then this conventional wisdom is on the brink of a breakdown. It finally means also that the question of diversity has gone beyond being a token moral issue and become one of straight up economic survival. Now watch it turn into an aesthetic revolution. The countdown to a Chinese super-star riding the cover of US, French or Italian Vogue starts...now.

Well it brings up a good

Well it brings up a good point. It reminds me of what happened with that Vogue Italia Black Issue . I mean who gets to decide who the "good" black models were? The Chinese will continue having their model look dictated as long as there are no powerful Chinese stylists and photographers. Image makers.

There certainly are a number

There certainly are a number of Asian/Chinese people in fashion from the many designers like A Wang, Wu, V Wang, et al, as well as stylists like Stephen Gan and Joe Zee, and as long as China continues to rise as an economic power, I think the rise of the Chinese model is not a flavor of the the month thing. I don't really understand what the editor means when she says that the current hot Chinese models are far removed from what Chinese ppl consider beautiful. Well yes, they are, but is that different from models in general? Most of the top models are not really what the average person thinks is attractive. That's why models don't look like actresses and vice versa. Jennifer Aniston is considered a beauty by Hollywood standards. As a models, she would have no chance. If you look at Chinese actresses like Maggie Cheung or Michelle Yeoh or Zhang Zhiyi whom most ppl Chinese or otherwise consider beautiful, they wouldn't be successful models. The standards are just different.

you couldnt have been more

you couldnt have been more correct!

it would have been

it would have been interesting to find out which of the current chinese models Ms. Cheung finds best represents Chinese ideals of beauty.

I'm Chinese...

...and I would say pretty much none of them...just look at the actresses featured on the covers of Vogue/Elle/HB/Marie Claire China and you will see the domestic ideal.

its interesting because it's not even just a "domestic" ideal.

many non-fashion cult western consumers don't "get" a lot of the high fashion asian model looks and i can go ever further to say they don't most high fashion model looks regardless of race. i'd say the "domestic" ideal is also what non-fashion cult western consumers find attractive.

i'd say fei fei fits the ideal when she's photographed in a soft

light

but don't forget du juan.

she was miss china afterall

Actresses? They may sell but

Actresses? They may sell but they are never fashion .

Taste is a dictatorship.

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