Chiharu Okunugi: From Nada to Prada

January 13, 2014 • 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 an agency is really doing their job right, making sure all the nuts are bolted down, the career plans are in order, I don’t have shit to talk about there are simply no nada model moments on record. There are no failed test shoots, no DIY fashion shows in Bushwick basements, no documentation of offensive, wayward abuse of Sun-In. Yes, when this happens, as it very rarely does, an agency can make it magically appear as though a girl has simply fallen from the sky, preordained from the heavens to be strutting down catwalks wearing $5,000 Latex bikinis to the latest EDM soundtrack. This, my friends, is model magic.

Of course, this is also a testament to the girl. Some babes are just so babe-ish they just jump right out the gate and don’t ever hear the word “no.” And, in my estimation, these models were, in fact, put on this planet to, like the great RuPaul once sang, WERK. (Bitches, you better know how lucky you are, because to feel the welcoming arms of fashion’s warm embrace without reservation means you have never felt its ice cold bitch of a steely gaze. Take a knee and say a little prayer for that one.)

One such lucky lass is Chiharu Okunugi, a Japanese model blessed with the stronger features that have fallen into fashion favor over the last two years. When she started in 2011, she was already sporting a cooler-than-thou bob with severe bangs and a blunt chop. Broad shouldered and pouty lipped, Okunugi quickly found herself walking for Mugler, Yohji Yamamoto, and Hermes. Not a shabby start. The haircut worked, sort of like Japan’s answer to Alexa Chung, if you will.

In the last two years, Okunugi has maintained a remarkably healthy pace in the biz, her bangs now having taken on a more lighter, non-committal quality and the chop getting shorter and arguably more boyish. Comparing the two hairstyles is like playing apples and oranges with two bananas. It was perfect before, and it’s perfect now. Is it better? It’s certainly a prettier vibe, a less specific ‘do that takes the edge off. And though fashion loves a statement haircut, a blanker canvas can certainly have a more universal appeal. Designers, after all, are there to sell clothes. It is only by hazard of the trade that they create supermodels in the process.

Sans the bangs, Okunugi has shot with Vogue Japan, Vogue Italia, Vogue China, CR Fashion Book, i-D, and Bazaar. On the runway, she’s been absolutely crushing it, walking for – amongst countless others — Phillip Lim, Erdem, Fendi, Altazurra, Christopher Kane, Versace, and, you guessed it, Prada.

Verdict: Did I stutter?

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