It’s the time of the season! The Who’s Earned What in Supermodel Land Forbes rankings on August 30 saw the dark ink of (digital) press. As ye ole Chinese proverb goes, the palest ink is better than the best memory. Liu Wen, crowned “China’s First Supermodel”, rose up high in the Forbes listings once more, raking in an easy-breezy $7 million in 2016.
Liu Wen at 28 has already managed to break the mold more than once in her thus-far impressionant career. Victoria’s Secret, Estée Lauder, H&M… Liu has become the poster girl for that China Model on the rise!
Liu Wen (刘雯)in 2013 became the first Asian to star in the Forbes top 5 of the world’s highest-paid models, swaying in at number 5. She repeated her triumph in 2014, with her income rising from $4.3 million the previous year to $7 million. Over the fashion seasons of 2015, Liu managed to gather a swell $4.5 million showing off runway designs and monster campaign posters. She upped the stakes again this year by collecting $7 million from her brand endorsements and runway projects.
On a non-financial platform, Liu at 28 has already managed to break the mold more than once in her thus-far impressionant career. She in 2009 became the first model of Asian descent to walk the runway for Victoria’s Secret and in 2013 went on to become the first Asian international model-deputy for beauty brand Estée Lauder. Naturally, and beautiful the natural flow of things can surely be, her norm-bending gigs translated into cold hard cash as well. Liu in 2013 was the first Asian model to star on Forbes’ list of highest-paid models. With her campaigns for brands such as Massimo Dutti, H&M and MO & Co, her credit limit is set to keep rising. Luckily, the Hunan Province (South Central China) born and raised gazelle hails from rather humble roots (well, who doesn’t in comparison to the abovementioned paychecks… I probably crawled out of the gutter), a hard-working-class history which keeps the catwalk from stomping to her head.
Event though China’s First Supermodel may have set an Asian exemplar in the modeling industry, Liu has in the past often made reference to the fact that her now much-in-demand appearance isn’t necessarily perceived as beautiful by traditional Chinese standards. In one New York Magazine interview published in February of 2016, she mentions:
“Before I modeled, I never thought I was beautiful. Even right now, I don’t think I’m beautiful. I think it’s my personality that makes my beauty different and unique. If you look in the past, Chinese people have always considered things like big eyes, pointy nose, or big lips beautiful.”
Liu believes exuding confidence arouses an individual’s allurement – confidence is, after all, one tried and true seductive aphrodisiac. Leaving no path unbeaten, when it comes to generalized impressions of that “stereotypical Asian beauty,” she holds that the current borderline-ubiquity of Asian models in the fashion industry fosters the perception and understanding of disparate types of beauty. Plus, when push comes to shove, it’s a matter of style. As Empress Vreeland once casually — in calculated mode — threw out there: “Style. Without it, you’re nobody. I’m not talking about lots of clothes.”
Liu’s 8th place on the 2016 Forbes rankings gained her much praise on Chinese social media over the past week; trending on Sina Weibo with the hashtag #刘雯收入#(i.e. #LiuWensearnings# — surprise).
Liu has done for Chinese models what Vreeland did for Vogue America: She went out there, way out there where no East Asian model had strutted her stuff before. Her many accomplishments speak for themselves, yet luckily they have not gone unnoticed by the wider China fashion-loving audience. Liu’s 8th place on the 2016 Forbes rankings gained her much praise on Chinese social media over the past week; trending on Sina Weibo with the hashtag #刘雯收入# (i.e. #LiuWensearnings# — surprise). A few snippets:
Sina Fun reads: “Forbes Rankings 2016 has listed the world’s highest-paid models, ranking more than 40 finalists supermodel. Supermodel Gisele Bundchen left everybody gasping for air with her 2016 earnings of up to $30 million. Victoria’s Secret Angel Adriana Lima came in second place and ranking eighth, we have Chinese supermodel Liu Wen! Miranda Kerr comes in 10th. 新浪娱乐: “福布斯公布2016全球最高收入模特榜单，共有超过40位超模入围。超模吉赛尔-邦辰以3000万美元的超高收入夺冠，维密天使Adriana Lima位居次席，中国超模刘雯排名第八，米拉达-可儿拿下第十.”
MOKO writes: “Supermodel Liu Wen has an annual income of $7 million, ranking on the Forbes list of highest-earning supermodels for a fourth consecutive year! Her success is not just due to a perfect body and super photogenic features, but also stems form her efforts that have reached far beyond the ordinary. Walking more than 70 Fashion Week shows per season, sleeping a mere two or three hours a day, she is Stewardess Wen and Superwoman Wen. Her success has been gained one runway step at a time! 美空MOKO :超模刘雯年入700万美金，连续4年入榜福布斯超模榜的唯一亚模。她的成功不仅仅是拥有完美身材和超强可塑性，更来自她超越常人的努力。一季时装周一个月，走秀70多场，每天只睡两三个小时，她是空姐雯、超人雯，她的成功是T台一步步走来的！
The Pursuit of Happiness adds: “Forbes 2016 has listed the world’s highest-ranking models in terms of personal revenue. Gisele Bundchen, who last walked her walk during the Brazilian Olympic Games Opening Ceremony, reigns supreme with her $30 million income this year. At No.8, we see Chinese supermodel Liu Wen. Miranda Kerr, then, stands at No.10. I’ll take our first Chinese supermodel as a big sister (ok, literally “cousin”) any day!” 娱乐追击令: “福布斯公布2016全球最高收入模特榜单，巴西奥运会开幕式上走秀的超模吉赛尔-邦辰以3000万美元的超高收入夺冠，中国超模刘雯排名第八，米拉达-可儿拿下第十。中国超模我只服大表姐.”
As my Heroine V. once remarked: “I think part of my success as an editor came from never worrying about a fact, a cause, an atmosphere. It was me — projecting to the public. That was my job. I think I always had a perfectly clear view of what was possible for the public. Give ‘em what they never knew they wanted.” With her unique and “new” beauty injection the fashion scene with some much needed refreshment, that is precisely what Liu has done: A spokesmodel for Estee Lauder and the postergirl for China’s supermodels on the rise. More power to her!