Chinese supermodel Liu Wen is still in shock over her history-making rise to fame.
PARIS, FRANCE (OCTOBER 2, 2011) (HERMES HANDOUT) - The fashion world's new 'it girl' has giving the industry a makeover.
Chinese model Liu Wen is often considered a fresh face in a sea of mostly fair-haired and blue-eyed models who grace the catwalks. Never dreaming of becoming a model, the 23-year-old entered a modelling contest in 2006 in order to win a computer to help her with her school work.
"I never think about doing modeling job. Because I grew up in a small town and the town name is Yongzhou and it's a very, very small town, no fashion, no any acting. I just wanted to study university...school of tourism, I just wanted to be a tour guide," explained Wen, whose mother entered her in the competition to help her gain confidence. Liu won the contest.
Now, five years later the 5-foot-10-inch beauty has stomped her way into history on catwalks around the world. In 2009, she became the first-ever East Asian model to walk in a Victoria's Secret fashion show and she continues to be a fixture in the iconic lingerie store's shows.
The following year Liu achieved another highlight by becoming the first Asian spokesmodel for cosmetic company Estee Lauder.
Liu says that back home in Yongzhou her parents at first didn't truly understand her high-profile job, but now, years later, they are very proud of her. But the distance and high demands of her job make it difficult to see them.
"I can enjoy my life better as a model, I have to travel to different countries constantly very often, I don't have a lot of time to be with them - but they give me a lot of support and strength," said Liu.
Liu's soar to success goes hand in hand with her country's rapid increase in demand for luxury goods. Analysts say China's consumption of luxury items is forecast to grow 18 percent annually to about $27.5 billion (USD) (20.26 euros) by 2015. The modest supermodel hopes her success and the new attention to China continues to increase Asians' visibility in the world.
"I can bring the East beauty to the world and hope more and more Chinese models can be on the global stage to showcase different kinds of Eastern beauties," Liu told Reuters.
Asked about how she felt about her supermodel status, Liu explained: "I'm very happy and I want to do a good job because modeling makes me happy not only career-wise but also to my life and I enjoy it. I hope I can do a good job and bring the beauty from the East to the West."
The model attributes her rise to fame to her commitment to hard work.
"I try to do the best in my job and be confident and healthy and show the best part of myself," she explained.
Still in shock over her success Liu said seeing herself in magazines is odd.
"For me it's very weird - sometimes you see your photos on the cover. It just feels very, very weird, this embarrasses me, I can't believe it."
"I'm doing modeling jobs and am doing great because am traveling so much. So every time - I can't believe it, because before I was studying tourism and I was thinking that I could travel just only China. But I can't believe it, now I live in New York, the big city," she added.
When asked to look ten years into the future, Liu said fashion will always be a part of her DNA.
"A models job is very short, I mean, after 10 years I don't think I will be still in the modeling job - maybe I can be fashion designer or a fashion stylist because I really love fashion - I'll just enjoy it for now."