From the top designer shows in New York to ads for the all-American brand J. Crew, a new group of supermodels is taking center stage. Move over, Heidi, Gisele and Naomi, and make way for Du Juan, Shu Pei and rising star Liu Wen. (A wave that started a few years ago when we saw the color line breaking in modeling and fashion.) Lui Wen was a ubiquitous presence at New York Fashion Week this fall and was the most-booked model of color at this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week. She was the first Chinese model to walk a Victoria’s Secret runway show, which is usually dominated by blond bombshells.
This new trend may be due to the fact that the fashion world wants to grab a piece of the the booming buying power of the Chinese consumer. In cosmetics alone, the Asian market is poised to become the world’s largest, growing to $85 billion a year. Recently, Estee Lauder signed Lui Wen as its first Asian “brand ambassador,” joining the ranks of Elizabeth Hurley and Gwyneth Paltrow as spokeswomen for the brand.
Even though Liu Wen may be breaking out, there are still some concerns. In a recent British Vogue spread about the rise of Asian models misidentified Liu Wen as a different Chinese model.
“Unfortunately. it plays into the stereotypes that Asians all look alike, because the models did all kind of look alike.” Jen Wang of Disgrasian.
Joe Zee, the creative director of Elle Magazine, states “There’s something to be said about grouping a bunch of Asian models together. I think that it feels almost like a fad or a trend, versus something that just feels like a melting pot of beauty.”
Rise of the Asian models