Xiao Wen Ju: From Nada to Prada

November 21, 2013 • Fashion

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In our ongoing series, From Nada to Prada, we explore the transformative power of a hair switcheroo, as seen in the competitive world of Model Land, where an agency-mandated bang cut or a bleach job can make the difference between booking a Prada campaign or slaving away in the gray ether of e-commerce for the rest of your livelong days.

When Chinese model Xiao Wen Ju first got her start in 2010, she arrived on the scene with the over-dyed, strawberry brown hair one might find on any frightfully ordinary lass in a domestic cell phone campaign. But to be booking that haute couture ish, you better be lookin’ extra-ordinary. Just a few months into the game, Xiao got the memo and quickly took her hair back to its dark, silky roots. Voila! A star is born.

For the better part of three years, Xiao has been one of those blue chip girls, walking for the likes of Chanel, Vuitton, and, you guessed it, Prada. Glossy and expensive-looking, with a criminally ageless face, Xiao was pulling off that rich business man’s wife vibe, the kind who spends all his money on $1,900 Balmain jeans (totally worth it!) and says things like “Hey, let’s take the plane to St. Barts and get weird.” Lane Crawford, Kenzo, CR, Dossier, Vogue – everyone wanted a sip of that Kool-Aid. And drink they did.

But in August ’13, Xiao cut all that luxurious, rich-wifey-ness off, leaving herself with an untamed, above-the-shoulder chop. Left to its own devices, the new ‘doo kind-of-sort-of-a-little-bit reminds me of when Kate Winslet starts losing her shit towards the end of Revolutionary Road, you know, right before things get real grim and hopeless.

The industry ain’t mad at new wifey, apparently. Post-chop, Xiao still crushed it during SS14 fashion week, walking for her regulars, plus Lanvin, Calvin Klein, Miu Miu, and Valentino. With that face, nothing Xiao will ever do will serve as grounds for divorce.

Verdict: The industry has spoken. Prada it is.

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