Friday, September 19, 2014

IT WAS 1956 WHEN China Machado, an unknown young model from Shanghai, became the first non-white beauty to break through fashion’s apartheid system when she began working as a fitting model at the House of Givenchy in Paris. By 1959 she was famous: discovered in New York by fashion photographer Richard Avedon, who photographed her for the February edition of Harper’s Bazaar. It was the first time an East Asian model had ever featured in a mainstream fashion magazine. THE FACE OF ASIAN BEAUTY: The world's top 10 East Asian fashion models, according to Google search, consists of eight famous Chinese supermodels, one from Japan and one from Taiwan/Canada. The top 10 Asian supermodels list is also made up of two male and eight female models. Guess who's no.1? 

Updated List of Top 10 Asian Fashion Models who are ruling West 


Now, over half a century later, famous Asian supermodels are enjoying their best time ever, as the fashion industry increasingly looks toward Asia for its financial future, and the burgeoning economy that has made them power players within the luxury goods market. Mainstream fashion has now been forced to reflect the faces of these wealthy new Asian customers within their advertising campaigns, particularly the Chinese. The size of the country's fashion industry is predicted to triple in size, to £128 billion, by 2020.

The last five years has seen an explosion of East Asian supermodels within high fashion. For the first time ever, industry website lists eight Asian girls amongst the top 50 models in the world (16 per cent of the total). They now work side-by-side with their white, and black counterparts across fashions major campaigns.


In 2011 famous Chinese beauty Liu Wen —’s highest placed Asian supermodel at number three — became the face of Estée Lauder. In 2013 Wen — the daughter of a construction worker — featured at number five in Forbes list of the world's highest-earning supermodels — the first time an Asian model has ever featured. Alongside this, Taiwanese male model Godfrey Gau secured a campaign for Louis Vuitton, while, Sui He — (number 13) — the first Asian supermodel ever to open a runway show for Ralph Lauren — fronted campaigns for H&M, Karl Lagerfeld and Shiseido. Simultaneously, Japanese supermodel Tao Okamoto, at number 37 in the rankings, has recently enjoyed a big popularity boost following her role in the movie Wolverine, with Hugh Jackman.
The Asian fashion market now has its own editions of Vogue, and with it, Chinese and Japanese-focused fashion photography and images of famous Asian supermodels has created a new visual universe which runs in parallel to the European fashion scene.


Ever since the 1960s it has been black supermodels that have enjoyed the status as fashions ascendant ethnic minority group, but now this is shifting. Compared to the eight Asian girls featured in’s top listing, there are only four black models in its top 50, although Puerto Rican-born beauty Joan Smalls is ranked number one. One of the fashion industry’s most contentious issues for the coming era will focus around which non-white models will secure what work, from what is a strictly limited pool, now that Asian, black and also South Indian fashion models are all competing against each other within the new multi-ethnic beauty landscape.


The rise of the Asian supermodel within this new arena is well illustrated by the fact that there are now enough famous ones to compile a list of the top 10 Asian girls. While ranks its girls according to the number of campaigns they do, and the money they earn, I have compiled a unique listing which ranks the top 10 Asian models according to their global popularity via Google searches. My world top 10 is a diverse list that includes both male and female supermodels, plus all the top names, including Liu Wen, Sui He and Tao Okamoto. Check out who takes the number one slot — you may be surprised.


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