Liu Wen Talks Style, Diversity And What It Means To Be China’s First Supermodel

Catwalk phenomenon Liu Wen, 28, is living life in the fast lane. Hot off the Prada and Fendi runways in Milan, and the new face of high street giant Mango, she tells Marie Claireís Trish Halpin how she got here and how it feels to be Chinaís first ever bona fide supermodel.

Liu Wen, describe your personal styleÖ
ĎItís always been very tomboy, but as Iím getting a little bit older, I like a more feminine styles as well. This new collection with Mango is called Soft Minimal and itís my favourite kind of mix-match; comfortable boy style pants, but then with a very beautiful blouse with a sexy lace back.í

What about when youíre off-duty?
ĎI just wear very nice pyjamas. When Iím at home, I love to watch movies and relax because when Iím modeling, Iím always travelling. When Iím not working I donít put much make up, but I do love nail polish for that little bit of fun colour.í

See all the pieces in Mango's new collection in the gallery above.

Were you always into fashion, even as a teenager?
ĎWhen I was little I never wanted to be a model, or really thought of doing this job. Iím from a small city, Yongzhou Hunan in the south of China - not a big place for fashion. I think Iíve learned [my sense of style] from designers, stylists and being in the industry. They put their clothes on me and I learn, Ďoh this suits me, maybe I should try this style again.í Iíve learned what looks too sexy, or too tomboy, or too cool for me! I know what suits me now.í

So if you didnít want to be a model, what did you want to be when you were younger?

ĎI was studying tourism at college and wanted to travel the world as a tour guide Ė that was my dream! But actually sometimes modeling feels quite similar, because I travel so much - probably even more than tour guiding. People ask me, Ďhow many times have you been to Milan?í and the answer is twenty, or thirty-five times in the last few years. I have no idea what my favourite restaurant is, because we come and leave in such a short time! But I really enjoy it and appreciate all the people Iíve met and places Iíve seen.í

What was your big break?
ĎIíd started a little bit of modeling in China, but the first time I came to Milan was in 2008. I couldnít really speak English, and even Milan here the people speak Italian - I learnt so much! My big year was 2009 as I did my first Victoriaís Secret show [Liu was the first ever Asian Ďangelí] and got the Estee Lauder campaign for 2010. Each year Iím doing different, new things, Iím now the spokesperson for La Perla and Iím doing this campaign with Mango. My life, itís kind of changed and I always say Iím living my dream, because Iím working really hard.í

Youíve been the first Asian face of so many big brands - Estee Lauder and Victoriaís Secret, as you said Ė so how does that feel and is breaking barriers important to you?

ĎI have to push it, Iím very pushy for this. But sometimes I have no idea, you know, how I become the spokesperson for Estee Lauder. Sometimes people ask me, [why itís me who has managed to break the boundaries] and sometimes I donít know! Many girls and models have different skin tones, it is the people they are that makes them unique. My personality, Iím always smiling and you just have to be yourself. Confidence is the most important thing for any woman.í

How did you master your walk?
ĎWell, I have quite big feet. In my hometown it was really hard to find high heels (which is why youíll always see me in sneakers) so that first Milan Fashion Week I did was when I bought my first ever heels. I didnít even know how to handle them, I didnít know how they worked! And I was walking for Burberry, one of my first shows who used to do Milan Fashion Week at that time, and the designer Christopher Bailey was really nice, he taught me to just walk naturally. I was like, ĎI can not handle these shoes, they are so high!í But he was so funny, he said Ďoh we donít want you be like a model, we just want you be a natural and feel like these clothes are yours.íí

What do your family and friends back home think of your success?
ĎMy parents are very supportive of me, Iím their only child, of course, so I always have to call them before I leave and when I arrive somewhere. Sometimes I still donít think they really understand what Iím doing! I think theyíre just happy that Iím happy and I love my job.í

Whatís next for you?
Could you ever see yourself becoming a designer? ĎOne day, yeah. Iíve really enjoyed working on this Mango campaign as this is the first time Iíve talking about a collection and I feel like a designer right now! I know [the collection] very well, Iíve been very involved and Iíve got so many favourite pieces. I just posted this jacket (above) actually on InstagramÖí

ÖCue 14,000 likes from Liuís adoring 1.4 million followers. Watch out, fashion world, the unstoppable Ms Wen is clearly set to take over completely.


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Wednesday 24 August