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Fashion

Model Sora Choi’s action-packed life, from New York Fashion Week to League of Legends

Twenty-six-year-old South Korean, one of fashion’s most in-demand faces, has walked for nearly every major designer, and loves anime and video games

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 09 September, 2018, 5:03am
UPDATED : Sunday, 09 September, 2018, 5:03am

Sora Choi is what you would call an accidental model. In fact, she may never have set foot on the runway if it weren’t for tagging along with a friend to a meeting at the model agency YGKPlus in Seoul. Once there, Choi was signed on the spot.

It did not exactly give her much time to consider her new career trajectory and she had never been interested in fashion.

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“I used to love painting, so I always wanted to become an artist. I loved all forms of art, [especially] painting and drawing. But if I weren’t modelling today, I’d probably be unemployed,” says the five-foot-10-inch 26-year-old with a laugh.

Choi began working instantly, shooting with local designers and, soon after, with top photographer Hong Janghyun for the cover of women’s beauty magazine W Korea in 2012.

She made her international debut three years later when French fashion designer Nicolas Ghesquière selected her to walk the Louis Vuitton Cruise 2015 show in Monaco.

Choi remembers having the good kind of stage fright before the curtain call: “I am always nervous before shows, but it’s not a painful or dreadful experience. It’s more of a good nervousness, building up to an excitement – I enjoy it,” she explains.

That show put Choi on the map, and today she is more in demand than ever. Over the past three years she has quietly amassed a slew of high-profile appearances in campaigns for Hugo Boss, Bottega Veneta, Vera Wang and Fendi, to name a few.

Last season alone, she walked a whopping 50 runway shows in New York, London, Milan and Paris. Her versatile real-life style hasn’t gone unnoticed, either, and she is a regular fixture in street style sections around fashion weeks.

“My career has changed a lot since I was first discovered. For one, the payments are now in completely different digits,” she says.

Travelling the world for work certainly has it perks, but has also come at a personal cost for Choi. “I’m a workaholic, so on my few days off, I always stay home and recharge in order to ready myself for the next job. Naturally that means I don’t have that many friends,” she shrugs, before adding that those who already know her are happy for her success.

Her lagging social life aside, Choi wouldn’t have her career any other way. Unlike some models who lament the gruelling nature of the runway circuit, she says it is her favourite part of the job.

“The adrenaline rush you get is the best,” she says. “Only those who have walked down a catwalk will understand the high.”

On the flip side, the nonstop nature of the work and the physical stress it puts on her body are the hardest factors to deal with on the road, she says. Her survival kit looks something like “sunscreen every day of the year” and “sleeping as much as I can” whenever time permits.

Choi moved from Seoul to New York around the time her career hit the big time and now uses lulls in the fashion calendar to travel home to South Korea. While there, she spends time nurturing two unconventional passions: anime and video gaming.

“On top of anime books, I also collect figure dolls,” she says. “My collection is so big, I’m actually trying to downsize these days. There are just too many.” Some of the games she likes to play during her time off include League of Legends and the Warcraft series.

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With New York Fashion Week just around the corner, Choi is gearing up for another action-packed season. Yet she insists she doesn’t ever take getting booked for granted.

“I’m honestly surprised by my success,” she says. “That doesn’t mean that I doubt myself, but it means that I’m extra hard on myself so I can be successful. I want to do more work, all the time.”