July 24, 2008

Du Juan on Vogue by Jaywalk

Global Vogue Of The Oriental Face
by JayWalk
(Note that the author is a Singaporean who is working in China)

(22 Jul 2008) - Shanghai-born Du Juan is a Chinese supermodel and the first Oriental model to grace the front cover of the prestigious French Vogue magazine back in 2006. 2 years later in April 2008, she was again featured by French Vogue magazine as Top Model.

Oriental presence in the Western world started humbly in the early days and was led by the men who forayed into Hollywood. Names ranging from Bruce Lee to John Woo to Jackie Chan are all familiar household names in the west. The women were not far behind with Joan Chen to Gong Li to Zhang Ziyi, just to name a few.

Perhaps the milestone happened in the year 2000 where the hit movie "Crouch Tiger, Hidden Dragon" scored big at the Academy Awards and the walk of the red carpet prior, a fashion event on its own merit, finally put an Oriental face to glamour fashion.

The rest, if I may steal an old cliché, is history.

So the question now is if the Oriental face will be the next fad in the global fashion industry? What would be the impact?

I would have to say in my humble opinion, yes to the short term and no the long term.

Yes, the Oriental face is the current new curiousity of the fashion world. Move aside Naomi Campbell (African). Step away Adriana Lima (Latina). Get lost Kate Moss (Caucasian)!


It's true that the Western world is slowly becoming intrigued by Asians over the past years as the Chinese began to open up its doors to international trades and events. Not only was the football World Cup held in Korea and Japan back in 2002, we now have the Beijing Olympics due to start only in a matter of days. In the past (and even today), we see only a handful of oriental-looking models on international runway shows, a similar sight for Black models in the seventies (until Iman came along and broke the barrier).

The true pushing force to launch the Oriental face to the global arena is actually MONEY. China's money to be exact.

Over the years, China's economy has grown from strength to strength at such a dizzy pace that it is now merely a matter of time before China surpasses USA as the global leader in the world's economy. We may all end up working for the Chinese "Lao Ban" (meaning "Boss", in Mandarin) one day, like it or not.

The buying power of the Chinese is so great in the modern day that it would be foolish for the fashion houses to ignore this juicy slice of lucrative pie. The proud French have already relented and accepted the Chinese drinking their Bordeaux with 7-UP. So how hard can it be now to put an Oriental face on their latest catwalk?

The Chinese are not only here to stay, they will buy the catwalk too while sipping cognac stirred with green tea.

Long term-wise, it is not that big of a deal as the novelty will eventually die down as human civilisation heads towards homogeneity. By then, the Oriental face will be no more peculiar than a Latino or Caucasian or African.

So no. Not everything will go Oriental at the end of the day, but we will start to see more and more designs with Oriental inspiration.

Man Tou and Camembert, anyone?

JayWalk is a guy who is not stupid enough to ink a refrigeration symbol on his wrist permanently, not rich enough to afford plastic surgery, not popular enough to win an OMY blog nomination, not brave enough to camwhore, not young enough to get away with wRitInG aLtErnAtE cAps, not old enough to get MRT senior citizen discount, not Beng enough to have a pack of Marlboro under the shoulder of his t-shirt nor AngMoh enough to drink tea with the pinkie sticking out. Yet, "All Your XMMs Are Belong To JayWalk" as the Tok Kok King pulls off a literary smoke grenade piece on the fashion world. Go figure.

Image Credit: http://images.nymag.com