Chinese model Liu Wen is all smiles on the cover of the latest T Magazine. The inside story, titled “The Liu Wen Express”, follows Wen as she travels back to her home province of Hunan.
Hers is a Cinderella story of the kind that fashion lives and breathes. Growing up in Yongzhou, she tells T, there were “‘no fashion stores, not even fashion magazines’”. She was “too tall” to garner interest from boys, “not pretty, pretty, pretty by Chinese standards”, and had never worn high heels. Now, Wen is the global face of Estée Lauder and one of the most in-demand models in the world.
The piece is a great read, both as look into the life of one of fashion’s favorite faces of the moment, and as a peek into the fascinating and rapidly changing culture of China:
When Liu was born, in 1988, the daughter of a construction worker, many of the brands she has modeled for — Dior, Chanel, Jean Paul Gaultier — were unknown in the country. Beijing was then a sea of bicycles, and thick coal dust in the air darkened both shirt collars and the sky. China’s per capita annual income was just $704 (last year it was $5,184), and only a sliver of the population could afford such luxuries as skin creams and handbags.
With roaring economic growth every year of her childhood, Beijing was transformed by the time Liu moved there in 2006, as an 18-year-old aspiring model. No longer a wasteland of sleepy state-owned department stores, the capital was throwing up stadiums, shopping malls and car dealerships. At the same time, the city had become a magnet for China’s young dreamers — artists, writers, designers, punk bands, models.
this is some kind of spaceship or something.