First came Fei Fei Sun, the first Chinese model on the cover of Vogue Italia, Style.com reminds us. Then Liu Wen became the first to be a global face of Estée Lauder. Now their “little sister” in the world of Chinese modeling, Xiao Wen Ju, is embarking on a blazing international modeling career. At just 20, she has walked the runway in Europe for Prada and Louis Vuitton, and she’s become the first Chinese woman to front a Marc Jacobs campaign.
“The thing with Xiao is that you can’t help but fall in love with her,” said Michelle Lee, casting director of KCD Worldwide, “She’s got this amazing presence, which makes you gravitate toward her.” Lee took a chance on Xiao when she put her in the Louis Vuitton show in 2011. Xiao had only recently left her hometown of Xi’an in the Chinese province of Shaanxi. She spent six months in Hong Kong looking for a breakthrough, and got it when mega-agency IMG in New York beckoned. That’s how she landed her first European season at age 19.
The opportunity was both exciting and disappointing for Xiao: exciting because those were the only two brands she knew at the time. Disappointing because, in her words, “I only did one show in Milan.”
Now she is working constantly, and is especially enjoying being photographed. “I’m very confident in shooting,” she says. “I know how to move and how to change. At a show, it’s not me. You have no expression when you’re walking,” she said. Xiao is currently living in New York, hanging around in the studio of her friends’ fashion label BabyGhost, and experiencing the freedom of the city, which she says is hard to come by in China.
She wants to soak up all the richness and wisdom life has to offer. “Even if I’m watching TV, I want to learn something,” Xiao said. She hopes to explore acting or creating art next.
photo credit: chanel, louis vuitton