China is an internationally recognized force the fashion world. Over the past few decades, China quickly rose as one of the world’s top consumer economies for clothing and luxury items. It used to be a rare occasion to spot a Chinese model on the runway, but thanks to the women on this list and others like them, Chinese models are being sought out by big name fashion houses more than ever before. Here is a glimpse into the Chinese fashion world with a quick introduction to five icons that have made an impact in the Chinese and international fashion scenes.
Story by Mae Hamilton
Fan Bingbing is a Chinese television actress, movie star and pop singer from Qingdao, China. Nicknamed “China’s movie queen,” Bingbing first gained attention for her breakout role in the popular Chinese drama My Fair Princess. She is most well-known internationally for her role as Blink in X-Men: Days of Future Past and for her role as Wu Jiaqi in Iron Man 3. Bingbing’s style is praised for its elegance and creativity. She also supports Chinese designers who may not have a large name internationally. Bingbing made waves in the fashion world with the beautiful gown she wore to the Met Gala, where she was named one of the best-dressed that night by Entertainment News and The New York Times. “What I love about this dress is that the gold makes her just glow,” art history and plan II major Valerie Chang says.
In the world of Chinese fashion, Liu Wen is a superstar. Wen is a trailblazer for other Chinese models as one of the first models of East Asian descent to walk the Victoria’s Secret runway as well as the first Chinese model to become the face of Estée Lauder. Growing up in a working class family in Hunan province, Wen was encouraged by her mother to enter modeling contests during her teen years. After establishing a name for herself by gracing the covers of Harper’s BAZAAR China and Chinese Vogue, Wen was invited by Karl Lagerfeld and Viktor & Rolf to model their clothes on the runway. She is now ranked among the highest paid models internationally. Wen’s outfits tend to emphasize simplicity but are always well-put together with a harmonious aesthetic about them.
Sun Feifei grew up in Weifang, China, a rural area that is quite different from most bustling Chinese metropolises such as Beijing or Shanghai. Feifei began her career by modeling for local companies around her hometown, but now models for international companies like Michael Kors and Givenchy. Feifei developed a beautiful sense of style that emphasizes comfort. She is known to sport a no-makeup look when not on duty as a model to keep her skin healthy and glowing.
Though initially famous for her pop diva status in Taiwan, Jolin Tsai gained recognition for her knock-out, risqué ensembles that contrast traditional Taiwanese fashion. Tsai is known for her refusal to conform to traditional values, writing songs such as “We are All Different Yet the Same” with an obvious gay rights message. Tsai is an inspiration for those feeling a bit rebellious. “I just adore Jolin Tsai’s style,” communications major Nancy Huang says. “In addition to how super cute she is, she is a female entrepreneur with her own recording company. She’s a triple threat.”
Xiao Wen Ju
From Xi’an, Shaanxi
Xiao Wen Ju is a breakout model, and the first Chinese model to become the face of Marc Jacobs. Ju grew up in a working class family in Xi’an, China. Her rise to fame resembles a Cinderella story. She was scouted off the streets in 2009 and rocketed her way up the ladder in the fashion world. Ju’s signature is her constant smile and flawless skin. Her outfits have a characteristic minimalist look with a fun, positive and artistic vibe. Ju’s look inspires a simple outfits with a hint of drama.