Featured image: Sun Feifei by Steven Meisel for Vogue Italia. 2013.
Today, February 18, marks the end of yet another New York Fashion Week. Fashionista faux pas have been documented, the old-fashioneds licked dry to the last drop and the Chinese fancy fashion posse marked their mien with several impressive shows over the course of the week — from Wang Tao to Gioia Pan.
With the Fashion Dragon designers picking up their laurels, I ask myself: How did the Chinese models fare during this week’s catwalk craze? Be it on the designing side or the modeling one, China is a fashion newbie — which is exactly what makes it so much fun to observe. According to Zhao Jianhua (赵建华) in “The Chinese Fashion Industry: An Ethnographic Approach,” the nation in 1980 created “its first team of fashion models in Shanghai, […] called fashion actresses (时装演员).”Apparently these women worked only part-time and spent the other half of their day working inside a state-owned garment factory. How very… Cinderella.
What’s more, newbie or not so newbie, the fashion industry is often criticized for showcasing a complete lack of diversity when it comes to the runway models — let’s not get into the Beyonce Superbowl performance or the whole Oscar debate here, shall we. Now, we can turn,twist, drape, off-the-shoulder this Vogue pickle as much as the next fashion editor-at-large and in-denial, but the fact is that catwalks anno 2016 remain pretty vanilla and could use quite a bit more garnishing — who likes staring at a bland plate when finally ordering that dessert anyway, I ask of you. Hmm?
As far as the sprinkling of Chinese models goes, the Mainland crop has been steadily marching into Fashion (sometimes “La La”) Land over the past five years. Take a look for example at this post by Whatsonweibo, describing The Dawn of The China Model. Yep, they have arrived and the numbers are very slowly increasing. New York had some 25 female Chinese models stomping down its runways the past week, including the likes of seasoned Liu Wen (刘雯) and Sun Feifei (孙菲菲) to must-keep-your-lens-on Zhou Huan. Let’s see how the rest of global Fashion Week mania, to ensue throughout the next three weeks, deals with model diversity this time around. Just dig in those heels and rock the runways, ladies!
I wonder… Isn’t “diversity” precisely that which fashion is supposed to be about anyway? A sundae for thought.
PS: For a full list of all Asian models (both male and female) working during NYFW16, check out the Asia Models Blog right here.