SOO JOO PARK

The Model who Started When oth­ers RE­TIRE

Fashion (Canada) - - Front Page - Pho­tographed by Chris Ni­cholls Styled by Ge­orge Antonopou­los Art Di­rec­tion by Bri­ana Mirabelli

David Bowie

is singing and Soo Joo Park is lip-synch­ing. The model is clearly hav­ing a mo­ment with the icon, sit­ting on a cold mar­ble oor un­der the domed struc­ture of what used to be a Brook­lyn bank, built in FLKJ. As Park poses in the build­ing, now an event space called Weylin B. Sey­mour’’s, she looks to the HE oval win­dows through which sun­light is pour­ing in and lis­tens to the mu­sic re­ver­ber­at­ing around the stone walls: ““Noth­ing will keep us to­gether... We can beat them for ever and ever.”” Park is reel­ing in the song, mouthing the words and tilt­ing her head to the sun above. A cam­era is click­ing heat­edly and a cho­rus booms out of the speak­ers as Park kicks up her Dsquared-clad heel and ex­hales: ““We can be he­roes just for one day.””

It is only hours a,er the posts an­nounc­ing Bowie’’s abrupt pass­ing ooded our news­feeds, and Park is be­ing pho­tographed for FASH­ION ’’s April cover. It is surely a time of sad­ness, but the model wants to turn the mood around and en­cour­ages the crew to treat the day as a trib­ute. ““We

We are liv­ing in a time of EX­PAND­ING BEAUTY ideals, and ques­tion­ing what the

IDEA of beauty is. I see the CHANGES hap­pen­ing in front of me, and I ap­plaud ev­ery­one

who’s PUSH­ING BOUND­ARIES.

should be cel­e­brat­ing him and be thank­ful, not sad,”” she says. ““He’’s given us the kind of in­spi­ra­tion that will not end.”” At her re­quest, the con­tin­u­ous play­ing of Bowie’’s

Sound + Vi­sion boxed set sound­tracks the en­tire shoot. As a woman on the cat­walk who typ­i­cally stands out from the pack, Park isn’’t afraid to con­vey emo­tion in a way that avoids Zoolander tac­tics. That is likely one of the rea­sons why L’’Oréal Paris chose her as the rst Asian-Amer­i­can model to be a global brand am­bas­sador. That choice and Park ’’s pres­ence in fash­ion right now is very much a sign of our times.

““We are liv­ing in a time of ex­pand­ing beauty ideals, and ques­tion­ing what the idea of beauty is,”” she says. ““I see the changes hap­pen­ing in front of me, and I ap­plaud ev­ery­one who’’s push­ing bound­aries.””

Born in South Korea, Park moved to Cal­i­for­nia with her fam­ily and ended up go­ing to school in the San Fran­cisco Bay Area. Her early years in SoCal were lled with Bar­bie dolls, and she later wit­nessed the goth, ska, EDM and skater cul­tures bloom­ing around her, as well as the red car­pet ma­nia of Hol­ly­wood. She was scouted while vin­tage shop­ping in Haight-Ash­bury at HI, and soon a,er, she was walk­ing for Chanel. Since the start of her as­cent, most of the ar­ti­cles about her have fo­cused on her choice in hair colour. »

"It’’s a tricky sub­ject,”” she says. ““I had an in­ter­view once and they asked me why I changed my hair colour and I said, ‘‘It’’s be­cause I didn’’t want a stereo­typ­i­cal look.’’

““They said that I didn’’t want to be type­cast as a typ­i­cal Asian,”” she says, shak­ing her head. ““There was a lot of push back from that. They thought I was ashamed to be Asian. It’’s not that at all! It’’s just that I want to be my­self. Peo­ple may think that it’’s a su­per cial and vain method, but I am who I am. This is part of it.””

In terms of peo­ple in the fash­ion world with whom Park em­pathizes, she names Lea T, the fa­mous trans­gen­der model who worked with her on a Red­ken cam­paign.

““I know that it’’s re­ally hard [for some­one like her, too] be­cause fash­ion can be ckle and peo­ple can seem dis­pos­able,”” Park says. ““Th­ese things go in and out of trend. Real is­sues al­most be­come trends. Asians, blacks, eth­nic­i­ties, gen­der……those things al­most be­come a nov­elty, which makes me up­set. But look, it’’s chang­ing. I’’m on your cover. I’’m Asian and I’’m blonde.””

On the fu­ture of modelling, Park hopes that the young women who come a(er her also rep­re­sent some­thing more than con­ven­tional glam­our that at­tracts the most likes on In­sta­gram. ““I want to see more peo­ple with sto­ries,”” she says. ““I want to meet mod­els with some­thing to say, not just the ones who are picked up in a store by an agent at a very young age. They don’’t re­ally have an iden­tity.””

As a self-de­scribed book­worm, Park ’’s quiet yet as­sured per­son­al­ity is reected in what she reads and the mu­sic she lis­tens to. She refers to J.D. Salinger’’s clas­sic novel The Catcher in the Rye as in­spi­ra­tional and im­por­tant, and ips be­tween be­ing an in­tro­vert (she adores hardcore loung­ing) and an ex­tro­vert (she DJs on the side and hosts a TV se­ries in Korea that’’s com­pa­ra­ble to

Amer­ica’’s Next Top Model). When it comes to the more pri­vate aspects of her life, she is chill, a trait reected in the mu­sic she loves to put on her setlists (she counts Cana­dian-based down­beat house DJ Cyril Hahn as an in­spi­ra­tion). Park also in­tends to re­lease a solo al­bum ““by the end of the year or next.”” Her in uences in­clude the Cocteau Twins and My Bloody Valen­tine, and she de­scribes her vibe as ““a lit­tle bit of a mod­ern ver­sion of dream pop. I like dreamy, ethe­real sounds.”” Yet even with all th­ese projects lined up for the year, Park is cer­tain that it’’s her non­con­formist ways that have brought her to the place where she is now. ““It’’s cru­cial to be in­de­pen­dent and di!er­ent nowa­days,”” she says. ““Be­ing like some­one else isn’’t an op­tion any­more. You can’’t fol­low other peo­ple’’s tastes. It might not suit you you have to be ad­ven­tur­ous and take risks. Some­times it might not stick and be a com­plete fail­ure, but you won’’t know un­til you try.””

“BE­ING like some­one else isn’t an OP­TION any­more. You CAN’T fol­low other peo­ple’s TASTES. You have to be AD­VEN­TUR­OUS and take RISKS”

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