Ming Xi (奚梦瑶 Xī Mèngyáo) is a Chinese fashion model from Shanghai. She came to international attention after she modeled for Givenchy’s 2011 spring show. She has appeared in dozens of glossy magazines and on the catwalk for numerous luxury brands, and has become one of the global representatives of Chinese beauty and fashion. She is now based in New York City, where she answered some questions from SupChina.
SupChina: You started your modeling career in Shanghai but now live in New York and work all over the world. What, if any, are the main differences between being a model in China and in the U.S. and Europe?
Ming Xi: I originally participated in the Elite Model Look competition, which is a fashion modeling event held by Elite Model Management (still my agency in Europe these days). I finished third in the competition and was signed by Elite. Therefore, I actually started my career overseas. Europe is great for fashion shows; it is where most of the major fashion houses are based. The U.S. market tends to be more commercial-centric; I worked for many retailers and American brands. My largest fan base is in China, which is an up-and-coming market.
SupChina: Chinese designers are starting to make a name for themselves internationally. Do you think China has already “caught up” to the rest of the world?
Ming Xi: I have worked with a few Chinese designers and there are more and more young people entering the industry as photographers, stylists, and editors. Fashion is like art; it is free and creative. There is no “catching up”; it is about producing beautiful and unique pieces of work.
SupChina: Do you think design elements based on traditional Chinese visual themes have become a part of the world “vocabulary” of apparel design? How do non-Chinese designers and people who buy high-end clothes respond to clothing that has a Chinese look to it?
Ming Xi: Designers have always tried infuse Chinese elements in their designs from time to time. Fashion is constantly absorbing inspiration from other cultures. But fashion is also very personal. Whether Chinese or non-Chinese, they purchase clothing based on their personal preference.
SupChina: What’s the best-dressed city in China? If the answer is Shanghai, what’s the next best-dressed city?
Ming Xi: It is hard for me to comment on that. My job is usually going from the airport straight to work. But, in general, consumers in China are becoming trendier and trendier.
SupChina: You’re also doing charity and philanthropic work. Tell us about your projects and the state of philanthropy in China.
Ming Xi: Jiajia, my dog, was abandoned inside a box on a taxi, where I found her. She has been with me ever since. For many years, I have been involved with this organization called Think Adoption in Shanghai. Think Adoption is a not-for-profit organization founded by French “Animal Dad” Philippe Jeangeorges and Chris Lau. It promotes adopting rather than buying animals, and has been involved in rescuing stray cats and dogs from clandestine rings that sell them for meat and fur.
SupChina: What’s the best Chinese restaurant in New York?
All photos courtesy of Ming Xi.