Meet the New Guy: Karl Lagerfeld Told David Chiang He Was a ‘Really Beautiful Chinese Girl’
First discovered at the tender age of 13, the Taiwanese-born, Canada-raised David Chiang deferred his modeling career until he turned 21. Wise decision, given that Chiang, now 22, is doing quite well for himself, despite starting at the old end of the spectrum (in modeling terms, that is). In his debut fall 2010 show season, the good-humored model worked with Alexander McQueen for his final menswear collection, and walked for Emporio Armani. Chiang skipped the spring 2011 shows, only to reemerge on Dior Homme's fall 2011 catwalk as an exclusive. At fall 2011 New York Fashion Week, he walked for Diesel, Richard Chai, and rag & bone, among others. Runway credibility in place, the Linda Evangelista wannabe just shot with Steven Klein for the upcoming issue of Japanese Vogue Hommes.
Tell us about your childhood.
My childhood, it was kind of your typical Asian childhood. I went to school, and after school I did my homework and sometimes watched TV. I was kind of dorky and shy.
What does your family make of your success?
My mom was really against it at first. She told me being a model was like being a homeless bum on the street, so at the beginning it was really hard. But I convinced by mom that my agency was serious about my career. My mom is now really happy about my career because she sees me on TV and reads my interviews. She watches a lot of Chinese channels so she's up on it now.
How did you get discovered?
I got discovered when I was 13 when I was walking down the street in Vancouver. This lady model scout came up to me and asked if I was a model, but I was only 13 and I wanted to wait until I was 16. After I graduated high school, though, I went to university studying early childhood education. I wanted to be an elementary school teacher; that's my dream. At that time, I was working at Holt Renfrew, where two European buyers discovered me again. So I created a Models.com profile and I started working locally in Toronto, eventually signing with my mother agency, Elmer Olsen Management.
Share with us your favorite experience from your debut fall 2010 show season in Paris.
Meeting Alexander McQueen was magic. I was at the casting, and suddenly [McQueen] appeared behind a glass door and told me to stay for my fittings. I've also been told that I was the first Asian male model to ever walk for Emporio Armani.
You just shot with Steven Klein for Japanese Vogue Hommes. What was that like?
I was really shocked I worked with him. I remember my agency told me I was requested for a go see, so I rushed over there and did the normal casting routine. The next day I was confirmed. My bookers were freaking out so I guess it was a big deal. He's an amazing photographer, and really lovely. Nicola Formichetti, the stylist of Lady Gaga, styled the shoot, and I love Lady Gaga. I love her new song, the lyrics. When I hear the song it just makes me feel even better about myself.
Give us some insight into the world of male modeling.
You're not perfect for everything. And a lot people are always criticizing you, so you have to be comfortable in yourself.
What are you scared of?
Heights, spiders, and basically all reptiles.
Describe your style in three words.
Black, edgy, and … fashion. [Laughs.]
Tell us something random.
My dream is Victoria's Secret. I'm working on it. I really want big wings. Not the small wings, but Tyra wings. Not Heidi's wings because they look heavy, but Gisele's wings would do, too.
If you could meet anyone alive or dead, who would you meet?
Isabella Blow. She's my style icon. She wasn't afraid of anything about fashion, and she was always willing to give new things a try. She was the one who was supporting Alexander McQueen first. And I'd love to meet Anna Wintour. I would love to talk to Karl Lagerfeld again, too. Not the little conversation we had before, which was unpleasant. I used to have even longer hair last June when I was backstage at Dior, and [Lagerfeld] told me I was "a very beautiful Chinese girl." I just looked at him and said, "Thank you."
Where would you like to visit?
Greece, because I love Greek mythology.
What's your guilty pleasure?
Ben and Jerry's Double Fudge and Häagen-Dazs's Peanut Butter and Chocolate. I also love McDonald's and KFC. I'm the guiltiest model ever.
What's your diet otherwise? And do you work out?
I eat whatever I want. I have a high metabolism. I don't like to eat beef and pork. I hate the taste. I eat a lot of chicken and fish because it's leaner, and it tastes good mixed in vegetables. During the summer, I'll have a lot of fruits to balance out my McDonald's and KFC. I walk a lot. Whenever I go to castings or when I go anywhere, except today. It's windy so I feel like I'm about to blow away.
What's been playing on your iPod?
Lady Gaga, Pink, and I really love Disney songs. My favorite is Beauty and the Beast.
What's the one thing you can't live without?
My teddy bear; I travel with my teddy bear. My grandmother bought it for me before I was born, so I've been with it for over 22 years.
Lastly, where do you see yourself in five years? I see myself as the next Linda Evangelista. I don't wake up for less than $10,000.