Everyday supermodel

Updated: 2013-05-29 08:05

By Gan Tian (China Daily)

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 Everyday supermodel

Qin Shupei struts the catwalk at 2009 Spring/Summer New York Fashion Week. Cao Tang / Xinhua

 Everyday supermodel

Qin arrives for a film screening during the International Rome Film Festival in 2012. Tiziana Fabi / AFP

Everyday supermodel

Qin Shupei had little interest in clothes until she was spotted by a modeling scout on the streets of New York. The former student from Henan province is now the darling of the international fashion jet-set, but for her it's just one, long holiday. Gan Tian reports.

Qin Shupei is a Chinese model whose face is recognized internationally as she appears in campaigns and on catwalks across the globe.

The 23-year-old has modeled for high-end labels Chanel and Victoria's Secret, making her one of fashion's top faces. She is a favorite of Karl Lagerfeld, Marc Jacobs, and Vera Wang. Her style has been imitated on and off the runway by fashionistas and paparazzi.

People would take it for granted that this young supermodel is wild like Kate Moss, or a diva in the mold of Naomi Campbell, but Qin is neither.

She is cheerful and easy-going. Walking into the hotel for the interview, the supermodel was teaching her co-workers to speak Shanghai dialect and telling jokes.

Qin says she considers herself a nice and friendly "girl next door", not a cold and difficult supermodel.

A recent job for e-commerce platform FASHIONand.com involved a series of photo shoots. Qin posed in three different locations: a beach, a cafe, and a living room.

"I think they want me just because I match the image of their brand: warm and casual I didn't feel like I was doing a job, but enjoying a vacation," Qin says with a laugh.

Unlike models who were passionate about fashion since they were very young, Qin admits she knew nothing about the industry until she started modeling. At school she cared little about what she wore.

"But, hey, I was in New York, the city of fashion!" She says, adding that the city has given her numerous opportunities.

Qin, from China's Henan province, was a long distance runner when she was very young. In 2006, she was sent by her parents to study at a high school in New York. She was walking through the city's Soho neighborhood one day when a scout approached her, asking if she would be interested in doing a part-time modeling job.

The inexperienced student thought she had met a con artist, so she googled his name, and found he was from Next Model Management, one of the biggest modeling agencies in the world.

Short of pocket money, Qin decided to give it a try - and so her career began. She had been spotted just in time for auditions for the 2009 Spring/Summer New York Fashion Week, and Qin, without any experience, was asked to audition for various A-list fashion brands.

She appeared in 22 shows that Fashion Week, including Lacoste and Ports 1961, with fashion media dubbing her the "dark horse of the international runway".

"At that time, I thought I could only make one or two shows, and that was enough New York Fashion Week was some place I thought I could not reach," Qin says, pointing to the ceiling.

Qin again strutted the catwalk at 2013 Spring/Summer New York Fashion Week, but this time as an established supermodel. She appeared in shows for top-tier brands such as DKNY, Diane von Furstenberg and Michael Kors.

Qin says making it in the industry sometimes means living by the maxim, "no pain, no gain". She recalls a time when New York had a big snowfall during fashion week.

"There was no one in the cold streets outside, except models in high heels like us," Qin says.

In January 2012, Qin married Zhao Lei, general manager of Huayi Brothers Fashion Group. Wearing a wedding gown from Vera Wang, the bride invited her best friends to witness her tie the knot in Australia. Guests included celebrities Wang Xiaofei, Barbie Hsu, Lisa S and Daniel Wu.

Qin returned to work after the wedding, flying around the world to attend fashion shows and shoots for advertising campaigns. She considers her job an opportunity to explore the world.

"I went to Slovenia in Europe for a photo shoot some time ago. If I was not a model, I would never have a chance to go to this country in my whole life," she says.

She considers herself lucky to be involved in the fast-paced fashion industry, especially in China.

"The country's booming economy, the rise of Asian designers in the world, the appearance of other Chinese models, and those twists and turns in the interviews all of these have made today's Qin Shupei," she says.

Contact the writer at gantian@chinadaily.com.cn.

(China Daily USA 05/29/2013 page 9)