Models Head to China as Foreign Looks Are Hot

Western looks take over runways, ad campaigns, even mannequins
By Caroline Miller,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 26, 2009 7:16 AM CST
In this photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, Julia Saner of Switzerland, center, reacts after winning the Elite Model Look 2009 final in Sanya, in China's Hainan Province, on Oct. 18, 2009.   (AP Photo/Xinhua, Zhao Yingquan)
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(Newser) – Canadian blondes, Eastern European brunettes, Swiss redheads: Hundreds of Western models are working in China these days, as China's fashion industry looks increasingly to foreigners to make their brands chic. Ad campaigns and runway shows are suddenly looking for variety and attitude that Chinese models don't project, fashion editors tell the Washington Post. Even department-store mannequins have Western features.

As many as 30 modeling agencies in China are using foreigners, the Post reports, employing some 300 to 500 Western models at any given time, and paying them a third to a half more than home-grown talent. "The foreign models' faces are much more three-dimensional," says the head of one agency. "They look nicer in pictures." But he adds that the new openness to foreign looks doesn't extend to black models. "It's an issue of Chinese people's aesthetic view."

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