A SIMPLE desire to win a computer paved the way for a glamorous life in modelling's fast lane for 22-year-old Liu Wen. Born and bred in Hunan province, Wen was recently named as the first Chinese 'face' of Estee Lauder, alongside the first French Estee Lauder 'face', Constance Jablonski. In recent years, models in their global campaigns have hailed from the US, Britain, Czech Republic, Poland and Ethiopia, with Wen's appointment a clear nod to the rising awareness of China on the world stage. 'Estee Lauder has always searched for global beauties that define a generation,' says Aerin Lauder, senior vice president and creative director for the company. 'Constance and Liu Wen are the beauties of our time. Both models have quickly captured the attention of the fashion and beauty world.' Wen has come a very long way in a short time. Described by the media as a 'fragile beauty', she was 18 when a modelling competition in her home city of Yongzhou offered the winner a computer as first prize. Her high cheekbones, lithe build, height and professionalism not only helped her win, but catapulted her to being recognised as an ideal candidate for photographic work. Wen soon appeared in editorials for Chinese Vogue and Chinese Harper's Bazaar and,in 2007, was styled by Karl Lagerfeld, Viktor & Rolf and other designers for a spread in Chinese Cosmopolitan. Later that year, she graced the cover of Chinese Marie Claire, and in 2008, Wen signed with Marilyn Agency in Paris. Before long, she made her debut on a major runway, closing a Trussardi show in Milan. Since then she has 'walked' for Burberry, Chanel, Hermes, Jean Paul Gaultier, Kenzo, and Maison Martin Margiela shows. Her barrier-breaking look continued to be a catwalk and magazine success in Paris, New York, Miami and China (she reportedly said she once did 74 shows in 30 days), leading to her being chosen as the first Asian model to appear in a Victoria's Secret show late last year. But Wen says she didn't intend to go into modelling. She was simply curious about travel (and wanted the computer). 'I never thought about being a model. I went to high school in Hunan and then studied tourism because I thought I could travel to different places, meet lots of different people, and eat lots of different food,' she says from New York. 'But I entered a modelling contest because the prize was a computer and I really wanted one. After I won, I thought that modelling was the profession that would allow me to travel to different places and meet different people. Now I love it.' But the life of an international model is no skip in the park for Wen, particularly being away from family for long stretches and having to stay focused and reliable for important clients. 'Before I became involved in the industry, I always thought modelling was really easy, and I would only need to do some walking and have my photo taken. But since then, I've realised that it requires a lot of concentration and drive. I think I'm very focused, and I am not picky about what is asked of me. Also, I pay close attention to my clients' requests.' Perhaps for Wen, the most exciting thing is knowing that people in China will see her face in the subway on the Estee Lauder advertisements. 'The first time I saw an Estee Lauder campaign was in the Beijing subway and I thought 'I'd really like to be the face of Estee Lauder', because I want everybody to know me. 'When I was offered the job, I was so excited ... Estee Lauder is such a big brand in China.' Wen's rise to the top has been fast, and fun. She is currently ranked 14th on the list of the top 50 female models. Wen splits her time between China, New York and Paris, and has an apartment in Beijing so she can get back into home life regularly. When she's not on a job, Wen shuns the bright lights for some chilled time at home. 'Because I travel a lot for my job, I like to stay home when I'm not working. I clean my room, read magazines and watch television. I don't want to go outside because it is so loud. I just want to be myself, at home.' Long-term, Wen says she might like to try her hand at being on the other side of the lens as a photographer, and she has already tried out a minor acting gig. Wen can be seen taking flirtatious swimming lessons in fashion photographer Poppy de Villeneuve's short and sultry art house film How You Look At It. That's a lot of changes in five short years, meaning she does miss some elements of her old life. 'I definitely miss the food,' she says, before jumping on another plane.