Fashion in Hong Kong and China

Victoria’s Secret model Estelle Chen eyes university, having been inspired to study by Karlie Kloss

Spotted at 14 and winner of the Elite Model Look the following year, 20-year-old Chen will be on the catwalk for the first Victoria’s Secret show in China. She talks to us about her Instagram fans and study plans – in Paris or New York

PUBLISHED : Monday, 11 September, 2017, 5:00pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 12 September, 2017, 7:13pm

The youngest Chinese model set to strut down the catwalk at Victoria’s Secret’s inaugural China fashion show says her plan is to study economics at one of the world’s most prestigious business schools.

Parisian Estelle Chen, 20, who was born in China and raised in France, will be among six Chinese models parading in the American premium lingerie producer’s latest designs in Shanghai on November 28. She will then apply to study economics at HEC Paris.

“I kind of miss school, and having something to do apart from modelling,” Chen says. If she fails to gain a place at the prestigious institution, she says, her other options would be either Columbia or New York University in the United States.

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She was inspired to further her studies by Karlie Kloss, another Victoria’s Secret model, who studies computer science at New York University. “She is smart and humble, which I think is really important for a long-lasting career,” she says.

Chen was 14 when she was spotted by a talent scout during a walk in a Paris park with her parents. A year later, she won the Elite Model Look title in France. The annual modelling contest, organised by Elite Model Management, has discovered some of the world’s top supermodels, including Cindy Crawford and Gisele Bundchen.

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“I was really happy because I was already thinking about modelling at the time,” Chen says.

In the past few seasons, she has modelled for luxury brands including Chanel, Dior and Louis Vuitton.

Chen speaks French, English, Mandarin and the local dialect of Wenzhou, a coastal city in Zhejiang province, where her mother comes from. Her Chinese father was born in France.

Chen says her parents were supportive of her choice to take up modelling because they knew it was her dream. “Of course, they were worried, as parents usually are, but they trust me and they are also really proud.”

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She cried when she heard the news that she had been chosen by Victoria’s Secret at the office of her New York agency, The Society Management. “Then I called my mum, and she started crying,” Chen says.

After the lingerie maker announced the line-up, the number of Chen’s followers on Instagram shot up from about 80,000 to 87,100 in less than a week. “I love reading the comments,” Chen says. “They always cheer me up and boost my motivation.” She shares photos of the food she eats, things she enjoys and places she has visited.

Chen has also featured in Instagram’s “Runway for All” campaign aimed at promoting diversity in modelling. “It was difficult at times to relate to who I was seeing in magazines or on the catwalk,” Chen said in her campaign story.

Chen was the only Asian face of Dior haute couture 2015/2016 in Paris. “It’s hard because we usually have one or two slots for Asian girls, and two or three slots for black girls,” Chen said in an interview with fashion news publication Women’s Wear Daily. “You’re always sad to see that.”