From student part-timer to toast of the catwalk stars

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 26 February, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 26 February, 2008, 12:00am

He has a face to die for, and with Asian male models in short supply, it is popping up on posters, magazines and catwalks everywhere.

Supermodel Philip Huang, winner of the Style Award for New Face of Asia, was prominent in the autumn 2007 New York fashion shows of Michael Kors, Tommy Hilfiger, DKNY, Lacoste and Philip Lim. He featured in 21 shows over the season.

The 27-year-old Asian-American, who took up modelling to fund his university studies, decided to make it a career five years ago and has not looked back. He was the only Asian male model during fashion weeks in New York, Paris and Milan, and recently took part in the Gucci show for three consecutive seasons.

'There is a growing interest in Asian models in the US because of the growing China market,' he said yesterday after jetting in from New York for the awards ceremony. 'I did about 10 in New York and 10 in Milan, and one in Paris in the fall-winter shows. Right now it feels like I'm just breaking the ice and it's the new thing.

'I am very honoured to be the one leading the pack and it's definitely a great feeling seeing the barriers coming down. Female Asian models became popular about two to three years ago with Du Juan from China and Korean-American Hye Park.

'There is increasing tolerance of ethnic diversity in the fashion world and I hope to see more Asian faces in mainstream advertising in the western world.'

Huang sees 'great possibilities' for his career in the Asian market and is doing several shoots during his visit to Hong Kong, including the Shanghai Tang LookBook and the Style magazine of the South China Morning Post. 'The secret of a good shoot is just feeling good about yourself, and I think everything comes from the inside out. This is my first award and it's very good for my career. I feel a great honour.'

Designer and fashion award winner Derek Lam is also part of the US fashion scene, but from San Francisco. Known for his combination of classic silhouettes and luxurious fabrics, Lam spent 12 years working for mentor Michael Kors. He launched his own label in 2003 and quickly won two major awards for new designers.