Since the Nineties to today, China has experienced a restlessness growth. After much isolationism, the time came for financial and then political recognition. At the beginning of the new millennium, however, there was still an aesthetic symbol of the Celestial Empire missing from its cultural hegemony. Until the arrival Du Juan: after years of studying at the Shanghai Academy, Juan had become too tall to continue to dance. But while her 179 cm were an impediment for the stage, they were perfect for the catwalk. So much that in 2005, shortly after having changed her pointe shoes for stilettos, Juan appeared on the cover of Vogue Paris, becoming the first Asian to have that honor. Since then she has become extremely sought-after by designers and advertisers of all kinds for her ability to put together both western and eastern tastes.
China now represents a reference market for fashion houses, and European designers find themselves constantly facing the dilemma of how to harmonize two aesthetic traditions that are so different. But they think they have found the right answer in the classic beauty of the model from Shanghai. The Asian models that had appeared before Juan in fashion shows or western advertisement campaigns – like the Chinese Lu Yan or Korean model Hye Park – were not particularly coveted in their home countries. Instead, Juan’s beauty, who is now thirty but looks much younger, has been a breakthrough in China.
L'Uomo Vogue, October 2012 (n. 434). Photo by Francesco Carrozzini