A rising Chinese-French model will strut down the catwalk of Victoria’s Secret’s first fashion show in China.
She is Estelle Chen, 20, the youngest of six Chinese models included in the lingerie giant’s Shanghai show taking place on Nov. 28.
Can’t believe it’s happening… I’m incredibly happy to announce that I AM WALKING THE VICTORIA’S SECRET 2017 SHOW 💥💓 ✨ I’m so thankful for everything that has happened in my life so far, every person I’ve met during these past four years, my family (mum, dad, williams, you’re the best) ❤️ and my friends who are always by my side no matter what. So many ups and downs but that’s what makes this journey so special… Thank you to my agencies and agents for believing in me and for all the hard work, and for bearing my annoying questions all the time 😉 without you it wouldn’t have been possible and above all thank you to the @victoriassecret team @johndavidpfeiffer @ed_razek @10magazine @monica.mitro ❤️ for giving me the opportunity I dreamed about since I was 13 😭 can’t wait to see you guys again ✨ you inspire girls to be the best version of themselves and you make our dreams become reality🌷 Thank you to my followers, even if I don’t respond to all your DMs, I want to say that you guys make me smile all the time and you keep me motivated throughout this incredible journey… 💌 Work hard for your goals and stay humble ❤️ may all your dreams come true just like mine became true today… ☁️
Chen announced her inclusion on Instagram, where she now has at least 88,000 followers.
For the uninitiated, the Victoria’s Secret show is of particular importance to newbie models, because aside from being their big break, it opens doors to many opportunities.
Chen, who was born in China and raised in France, was first scouted into modeling at 14. She was walking with her parents in a park in Paris at the time.
“I got scouted by my mother agent in Paris. He saw me with my parents. I was already thinking about becoming a model before so I was pretty happy,” she told Women’s Wear Daily. “My parents own a clothing shop in Paris so I grew up with fashion and so that’s why I started thinking about it.”
The following year, Chen won the Elite Model Look competition, an annual event in France organized by Elite Model Management, the same agency that “discovered” popular models such as Alessandra Ambrosio, Cindy Crawford, Stephanie Seymour, Tatjana Patitz and Gisele Bündchen, among others.
Since then, Chen, who stands 1.75 meters (5′ 9″) tall, has modeled for brands in the likes of Chanel, Dior, Dolce & Gabbana, Elie Saab, Fendi and Louis Vuitton.
Chen also became part of Instagram’s “Runway for All” campaign, which promoted diversity in modeling.
“It was difficult at times to relate to who I was seeing in magazines or on the catwalk,” she said in her campaign.
She told WWD that it’s difficult to work as an Asian model, but praised the opportunity at Victoria’s Secret:
“It’s hard because we usually have one or two slots for Asian girls and two or three slots for black girls; you’re always sad to see that. You have less chance to be in the show, but I think Victoria’s Secret is amazing because they have such a diverse cast.”
Chen seems up for a warm welcome in Shanghai, as Chinese fans have been sending her support since her announcement:
“I get a lot of messages from Chinese fans because they are so sweet, we’re so happy you’re coming back to China, but also from friends who knew me when I won the Elite Model Look in France, saying we’re so proud of you.”
After the show, Chen plans to apply at HEC Paris to study economics.
“I kind of miss school, and having something to do apart from modelling,” she told the South China Morning Post. She cited Karlie Kloss — another VS model who studies computer science at New York University — as an inspiration.
Photos via Instagram / @chen_estelle