Nothing niche about home-grown beauty

PUBLISHED : Friday, 09 September, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 09 September, 2011, 12:00am


When US Vogue placed eight Asian supermodels on the cover, hailing it as a 'redefining of traditional beauty', it was met with both admiration - for its celebration of diversity - and controversy. The insinuation that 'traditional beauty' would be Caucasian, or at least not Asian, was criticised for sidelining Asian looks as niche or alternative.

Lane Crawford's new campaign uses five top Chinese models. It celebrates local faces - which are sometimes still marginalised in Asian fashion. The Hong Kong retail giant's autumn-winter campaign, shot by the esteemed London-based photographic duo Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott, was unveiled this week. Five supermodels - Fei Fei Sun, Liu Wen, Ming Xi, Shu Pei, and Xiao Wen Ju - are dressed in nude and monochrome sharp tailored pieces by many of the top labels.

Even the styling, by the esteemed Marie-Amelie Sauve, evokes sleek, sharp silhouettes and a colour palette favoured by Hong Kong fashionistas. Mert and Marcus applied their signature to create bold, graphic images - which were an edgy, hip and more youthful turn from the department store's traditional look.

The supermodels together cut a striking figure for the campaign. Having topped most wanted lists in China, these five homegrown stunners are making huge inroads on the international circuit, too.

First up is Beijing born Liu Wen - the big Chinese star of the moment, ranked sixth of all top models by She was the first Asian face of Estee Lauder and first East Asian girl to walk for Victoria's Secret, and is now a regular on major runways and campaigns. Fei Fei Sun and her famous eyes and cheekbones are already ranked 21st, having debuted on international catwalks only last year. With Elle, i-D and Vogue covers under her belt and a fierce runway strut, she also appeared in Givenchy's Spring Haute Couture all-Asian cast show. Shu Pei's classical beauty has seen her career take off. She is a favourite of Vogue China and at Couture shows. Then there is the stunning, Shanghai-born Ming Xi, who recently graced the cover of the SCMP's own Style magazine. Her Givenchy couture show debut last year had the industry salivating over her wide eyes and pout, since making her a regular in edgy fashion titles and campaigns. Xiao Wen Ju has risen rapidly despite her short stature. Her fragile, ethereal, dollish beauty makes her a popular booking.

Is Lane Crawford sending a signal about China's new place in fashion?