This Week's Model: Liu Wen
Twenty-two year old Chinese model Liu Wen made headlines last week when it was announced she was made the first Asian face of Estée Lauder. Breaking ethnic barriers in the industry is no new feat for the Yongzhou-born beauty—last year, she became the first East Asian model to walk the Victoria’s Secret fashion show. Liu started her career at age 18, when she entered The New Silk Road World model contest. (She says she wanted the money for a laptop.) Since signing with Marilyn Agency in 2007, she has graced two international Vogue covers, booked editorials in magazines from V to W (check her out in March’s “Chic Mystique”), appeared in ads for Calvin Klein, The Gap, and DKNY, and walked just about every runway that matters. By all measures, she has it all: the height (she’s 5’10″), the walk, the expressive features, the stamina and, of course, the flawless skin.
The news about the Lauder contract has been everywhere.
I used to see Estée Lauder’s ads everywhere in the subways of Beijing, and I thought how wonderful it would be if the model on them was myself! Now that this dream has come true, so I’m sincerely happy.
What do you remember about walking the Chanel and Louis Vuitton runways for the first time?
I remember that 2008 was my first try at walking the international runways, and also my first time at Chanel. There was a carousel there that looked like it came out of a fairytale. First time at Louis Vuitton was Spring 2009 season, and I remember that the colors of the clothes were very dreamy.
What’s it like when you return to China? Do fans recognize you?
I think people first started recognizing me around two years ago. First in small clothing stores, then others would check if I was Liu Wen when I went to see movies, and now even when I step in Starbucks in China many people recognize me. I think people recognize me sometimes on the streets of New York and the Paris subways, too.
What does your family do? Do you have sisters and brothers, and do they live in China?
My parents are very humble people who have simple lives…they live in a pleasant little town in China. No one else in my family works in the fashion industry. I’m the only child.
The young future model
How does your family feel about your modeling?
They are very supportive of me modeling, not because they want me to become a huge star…but just as long as it makes me happy. During the hardest times they always encouraged me to stay strong.
In W‘s March “Chic Mystique” portfolio by Mario Sorrenti
We heard that before you were a model, you were a tour guide.
I studied tourism in school and had plans to become a tour guide, but truthfully I never really worked full-time as one. My first real job was as a model.
What do you think you want do do after a career in modeling?
Modeling definitely won’t last for a lifetime, but I think I will continue to work in the fashion industry somehow afterwards.
What do you like to do on a day off?
Exercise, surf the web, and cook delicious Chinese cuisine!
Backstage at Twenty8Twelve’s fall 2009 runway show.
What’s your favorite unhealthy food?
French fries and ice cream.
Tell us something about yourself that would surprise us.
Even if I eat a lot of ice cream I still won’t gain weight—and ice cream can get me pretty hyper, whereas coffee actually puts me to sleep.
Tell us one or two of your beauty secrets.
Drink lots of water, eat lots of fruit—and rest well and whenever possible!
Check back next week for the latest installment of The Skinny. And see all our previous model Q&As here!