Asian A-list stars take their seat on fashion's front row

Designers have long looked to Hollywood celebrities to help sell their collections -but now it's the turn of Asia's A-listers

PUBLISHED : Monday, 29 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 29 July, 2013, 6:29am


Arriving at a Christian Dior fashion show in Paris surrounded by a gaggle of photographers and minders, Korean star Gianna Jun quickly eclipsed the already seated Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence.

One of the best known faces in Asia following a string of box office smashes, the actress is one of an elite group of bankable names attracting the attention of the fashion world.

Designers have long looked to Hollywood stars to help sell their collections - but as the spending power of consumers in countries such as China and South Korea grows, it's now the turn of Asia's A-listers.

Taiwanese model and actress Lin Chi-ling was also in Paris for the couture shows where she was given the red carpet treatment at Karl Lagerfeld's Chanel show.

At a time when couture houses are increasingly winning new customers in countries from China to Singapore, Lagerfeld underscored the East's importance with a show contrasting the "crumbling" old world with a futuristic imaginary Asian city.

Raf Simons' multicultural show for Christian Dior, meanwhile, was also a clear pitch to customers in new markets.

The Belgian designer, who notably put models from all corners of the globe on the catwalk, said the collection showed Dior "not just being about Paris and France, but about the rest of the world" too.

Brian Buchwald, CEO of Bomoda, a website serving Chinese luxury goods consumers, said tapping into the wants and desires of Chinese shoppers was now the "overriding opportunity for western companies".

"The rising role of the Chinese consumer is driving their business," Buchwald said, adding that last year they were "responsible for 60 per cent of all luxury goods purchases in Europe".

Such stark economic realities are the reason Paris fashion can expect to see many more Asian celebrities on its front rows in coming years.

One of the highest profile Asian stars is Chinese actress Fan Bingbing, who has attended Paris fashion shows as well as the Cannes film festival where she was seen wearing Valentino, Elie Saab and Laurence Xu.

Known in the marketing world as a KOL - Key Opinion Leader - Buchwald says the star's appeal to designers and luxury goods companies comes from "her beauty, her sense of fashion and her ability to reach and move the Chinese consumer".

"She is a risk taker. She makes her own fashion choices and while many Chinese women may not be comfortable enough to wear what Fan Bingbing may wear, the fact that she's out there making certain choices becomes aspirational for them," he said.