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Who is China’s Next Topmodel?

Following another China’s Next Top Model finale, China fashion blogger Elsbeth van Paridon wonders how China’s runway darlings are doing in the world of fashion modeling, and who ‘China’s Next Top Model’ actually is.

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Following another China’s Next Top Model finale, China fashion blogger Elsbeth van Paridon wonders how China’s runway darlings are doing in the world of fashion modeling, and who ‘China’s Next Top Model’ actually is.

It’s been a fixture on international TV screens for some 10 years now: “-Fill in whatever country you can think of”- Next Top Model, an original idea sprouting from American supermodel-turned-mogul fashion Wunderkind Tyra Banks’ brain.

China, together with the rest of Asia, couldn’t be left behind, and started its very own fashion-fun-and-long-limbs-filled edition back in 2008. The latest edition of China’s Next Topmodel (Cycle 5, aired by Chongqing TV) had its season finale on August 8. Time to reflect on how China’s runway darlings are faring in the world of fleeting fashion modeling nowadays – who is the actual next topmodel of China?

 

“The Age of the China Fashion Model had dawned.”

 

Answer: there’s not just one. China has a slowly but steadily increasing picture-perfect pack of topmodels taking on the international fashion weeks. With or without the help of the ‘Next Topmodel’ television series, China has proved to be fruitful ground for supermodels (超模, which literally translates as “extreme model” in Chinese). Tall-tree-esque models such as Du Juan (haute couture muse) and Liu Wen (Victoria’s Secret, anyone?) have earned their stripes on the highest measurement levels of the global modeling industry.

hm-new-season-aw14-liu-wenChinese topmodel Liu Wen for H&M.

From Shanghai to Milan, and from H&M to Hermes, cities and brands bow to the newcomers flying in from the East. Just take another look at Vogue China’s 100th edition released in 2013: it devoted an entire chapter to the appearance of Chinese models in the on-trend Fashion Bible.

Vogue-China-December-2013-509x613Vogue China 100th Edition.

In the eyes of their fans, the popularity of China’s models is similar to that of old Hollywood studio era movie stars – the Age of the China Fashion Model had dawned.

Fast forward to 2015: Liu Wen, with an enormous Chinese fanbase (she has over 12 million Weibo followers) is the first Chinese (Asian, in fact!) model to bag the world’s most coveted lingerie gig and sign a beauty deal with Estee Lauder. Model Luo Zilin became (in)famous after courting controversy by getting into a lover’s-triangle tiff with Naomi Campbell after appearing on modeling TV show “The Face”. Liu Li Jun has become a Harper’s Bazaar favorite, and Fei Fei Sun is the first Asian model to feature on the Vogue Italia cover.

Fei-Fei-Sun-by-Steven-Meisel-for-Vogue-Italia-January-2013_11Fei Fei Sun by Steven Meisel for Italian Vogue.

It is obvious that the Chinese have managed to put a very visible red stamp on the world of photo-shoots and seasonal collections. Emma Pei, Shu Pei (Qin), Ming Xi, and the list goes on for quite a bit, have been hailed for adding a touch of “exotics” (I don’t particularly like this word, but it gets the job done) to a hemisphere of Eastern European/Caucasian women.

The Chinese (next) topmodels are on a mission to rake in the covers and campaigns. Whereas fashion may be fleeting, the admiration for the China Fashion Model sure is not.

Oh, and before I forget, the season finale of the China’s Next Topmodel television series was won by 1.77m-tall Li Si Jia. Go get ‘em girl.

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The winner of Cycle 5 of China’s Next Topmodel, Li si Jia.

– by Elsbeth van Paridon

Images:
http://mylusciouslife.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Fei-Fei-Sun-by-Steven-Meisel-for-Vogue-Italia-January-2013_11.jpg
https://intothegloss.com/2013/12/vogue-china-100th-issue/
http://www.nuyou.com.my/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Vogue-China-December-2013-100-Special_Shu-Qi-by-Mario-Testino_02.jpg

©2015 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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Elsbeth van Paridon is a sinologist and fashion writer. Since 2010, she has been living in Beijing, where she has become an expert on all the ins and outs of the world of China fashion. She has her own blog on China fashion: Chasing the Fashion Dragon.

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China Fashion & Beauty

The Mulan Makeup Challenge: Traditional Chinese Makeup Goes Trending

Recreating the Mulan make-up look was the biggest beauty challenge on Chinese social media this July.

Manya Koetse

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Will traditional Chinese make-up make a comeback because of Disney’s Mulan?

Since Disney released the official trailer for its live-action Mulan movie earlier this month, Mulan is recurringly appearing in the top trending lists on Chinese social media.

Among all the different topics relating to the upcoming Mulan movie, the Mulan make-up challenge is one that jumps out this month.

The Disney live-action trailer showed a scene in which Mulan, played by Chinese American actress Crystal Liu Fei (刘亦菲), has a full face of betrothal makeup. The original animated Disney movie also features a full makeup Mulan.

Although there was also online criticism of the ‘exaggerated’ makeup, there are many people who appreciate Mulan’s colorful makeup look.

On Weibo, many showed off their skills in copying Mulan’s makeup look this month.

By now, the hashtags “Mulan Makeup Imitation” (#花木兰仿妆#) and “Mulan Makeup Imitation Contest” (#花木兰仿妆大赛#) have attracted over 300 million views.

Makeup such as lipstick has been used in China as far back as two or three thousand years ago.

Makeup vlogger Emma Zhou explains more about Tang Dynasty (618-907) makeup customs here; the skin would be whitened with rice flower, followed by the application of ‘blush’ (pigment of strong-colored flowers) to the cheeks and eyes in a round shape, to emphasize the roundness of the face.

A floral-like decoration would be placed in between the eyebrows.

The yellow forehead, as can be seen in the live-action Mulan, is also known as “Buddha’s makeup,” and was especially popular among ladies during the Tang Dynasty. A yellow aura on the forehead was believed to be auspicious (Schafer 1956, 419).

Although contemporary Chinese makeup trends are much different than those depicted in Mulan, traditional makeup seems to make somewhat of a come-back because of the Disney movie, with hundreds of Chinese netizens imitating the look.

Beauty bloggers such as Nico (@黎千千Nico, image below) receive much praise from Weibo users for their makeup look. Nico wrote: “I even opened the door for the delivery guy this way!”

It is not just girls imitating the look; there are also some boys showing off their Mulan makeup.

Although many still find the Mulan makeup look exaggerated and even “laughable,” there are also those who think it looks really “cool” – of course, depending on whether or not the application is successful.

Want to try it out for yourself? There are various amateur tutorials available on Youtube (in Chinese), such as here, here, or here.

The Mulan make-up hype will probably continue in 2020; the Mulan movie will come out in late March.

To read more about Mulan, please see our latest feature article on Mulan here.

By Manya Koetse

References

Schafer, Edward H. 1956. “The Early History of Lead Pigments and Cosmetics in China.” T’oung Pao, Second Series, 44, no. 4/5: 413-38. http://www.jstor.org/stable/4527434.

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China Celebs

Iconic Shanghai Singer Yao Lee Passes Away at the Age of 96

Yao Li, one of the seven great singing stars of Shanghai in the 1940s, has passed away.

Manya Koetse

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Chinese singer Yao Lee (姚莉), the ‘Queen of Mandarin pop,’ passed away on July 19 at the age of 96.

The singer, with her ‘Silvery Voice,’ was known as one of the seven great singing stars (“七大歌星”) of Shanghai of the 1940s.

For those who may not know her name, you might know her music – one of her iconic songs was used in the hit movie Crazy Rich Asians.

Yao’s most famous songs include “Rose, Rose, I Love You” (玫瑰玫瑰我爱你), “Meet Again” (重逢), and “Love That I Can’t Have” (得不到的爱情).

Yao, born in Shanghai in 1922, started singing at the age of 13. Her brother Yao Min was a popular music songwriter.

When popular music was banned under Mao in the 1950s, Hong Kong became a new center of the Mandarin music industry, and Yao continued her career there.

On Weibo, the hashtag Yao Lee Passes Away (#姚莉去世#) already received more than 200 million views at time of writing.

Many Chinese netizens post candles to mourn the death of the popular singer, some call her passing “the end of an era.”

“Shanghai of those years is really where it all started,” others say.

Listen to one of Yao’s songs below:

By Manya Koetse

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