With 2005’s film version of Memoirs of a Geisha, Chinese people across the world had more reason to hate Zhang Ziyi and foamed at the mouth yet again saying, We’re not Japanese. You would have thought that by now the West would have cottoned onto the message.
Alas, Chinese observers rolled their eyes upon seeing Chinese models dressed like geishas, again, at this Madame Butterfly inspired fashion show in Paris back in January. However, like with many great works of art, it’s all about reading between the lines. The show happened to be the Spring/Summer 07 Christian Dior Haute-Couture collection by designer John Galliano, and the models were Guangdong’s very own Mo Wandan (left) and Anhui’s Bei Pei (right). The real message to take away — these girls have arrived.
Participating in such a high-level, prestigious show can only be interpreted as having truly made it and been accepted into the fickle world of high fashion. Despite the theme they were the only Asian models in the show, aside from Japanese model Ai Tominaga.
Both girls already have successful careers in China and are based in Shanghai, but recently Bei and Mo have both been beating off established European ‘supermodels’ for some of the industries most coveted global campaigns and catwalk spots. Mo has already done shows for top designers like Vivienne Westwood, while Bei was personally selected by Muccia Prada and was featured in the Fall/Winter 07 show for Miu Miu, alongside fellow Chinese models Dong Jie and Zhou Xun.
With winning these campaigns and doing haute-couture, the crème de la crème of all fashion shows, they both certainly deserve the title of ‘international models’ now. Not just for parading around in expensive frocks and vertigo inspiring heels, but for challenging the fashion industry’s strict notion of beauty and aesthetics. With the Spring/Summer 08 shows shortly approaching in August lets hope that they can hold onto their crowns and show the world what the Chinese can do a second time round.