If you’ve been following fashion, you probably already know that Liu Wen (nicknamed 小蚊子, or “little mosquito”) is kind of a big deal in the fashion world. The 26-year-old Elite model is currently making $4.3 million a year and is expected to create an even bigger name for herself in the next few years. In addition to being ranked as one of the online men’s magazine Askmen’s hottest women of 2012 (22 hottest out of 100), she’s also the first Asian model to ever walk in the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.
What you probably didn’t know was that, unlike most models, Liu Wen didn’t start out her career in hopes of becoming the giant star that she is now. In fact, in the summer of 2005, Liu Wen entered the Elite Model Look contest with the goal of winning a computer, of all things — not with the burning desire to grace the cover of Marie Claire magazine like the other contestants. As the daughter of a lowly construction worker, Liu Wen never dreamed of walking on runways; she always thought she wanted to be a tour guide.
As it turns out, introducing famous landmarks to tourists is not what the gods had in store for Liu Wen. Much to her surprise, she ended up winning the Elite Model Look contest, and during one of the fittings for the Marie Claire shoot, creative director Joseph Carle was immediately captivated by her look. At the age of 18, she followed Carle to Europe, and her life was changed forever. She has walked for every major fashion designer, including Dior, Gucci, Prada, Celine and YSL, has appeared in fashion magazines around the world, is featured in ad campaigns from Tiffany’s to H&M, La Perla to Coach, and is the first Asian spokesmodel for mega cosmetics brand Estée Lauder.
But the Yong-Zhou native doesn’t just sit around waiting for her next runway walk or photo shoot; in her spare time, Liu Wen enjoys writing in her blog and fooling around with photography and making videos.
Unlike some celebrities who feel pressured when their pictures are constantly being taken on the streets, Liu Wen has said in an interview that she embraces it, and we can definitely see why. While we love seeing her glammed up in high-end ad campaigns and editorials, we love even more her great sense of street style and adorably warm smile (those dimples!).