> This androgynous beauty metamorphoses from cover to cover, making waves across continents
IN THE past 11 years of rocking magazine covers, editorial spreads and fashion shows, as well as advertising campaigns the world over, Gwen Lu has witnessed a plethora of reactions from people when they learn of her day job.
“Some are surprised that an ordinary girl like me is actually a model. Some are amazed by the glamour and fantasise about the ‘luxurious’ lifestyle of a supermodel; some sympathise my nomadic lifestyle; while some are amused upon discovering the secrets and tricks used to create flawless images you see in print,” the 33-year-old enlightened.
What’s possibly more surprising is that this androgynous beauty was a quantity surveyor by profession before she waltzed into the fashion industry. Lu could have scaled the corporate ladder with ease, but thanks to some coaxing from her friends, the Penang-born decided to undertake the more challenging route of modelling – equipped with a genetic lottery of razor-sharp cheekbones, intense gazes and a towering height of 1.75m.
She never looked back since, and at this rate, she clearly doesn’t have to. To revel in her (over) decade-long career, theSun quizzed Lu on the complexities of her job and the best bits that come with, and her affair with food as a Penangite; to which she graciously entertained via e-mail from the Big Apple, where she’s based.
Do you still get nervous before a show or shoot? How do you prep yourself mentally and physically? Sometimes. When I get the mood board or briefing, I will do my homework – be it studying the role of an iconic woman, history of an art movement, or influences in a movie or a book. I still get nervous with super high heels or slippery runways. I would rehearse for a few rounds before a show, and I tend to walk a little slower in these situations.
Can you recall your most memorable show or shoot, or favourite look? There are too many to mention. The role is always changing, the task is always challenging, and the team is always overflowing with creativity and new ideas; it is unfair to pick one.
What are your thoughts on the Malaysian fashion scene? I admire many local designers who brought their name and designs to the international stage. There are definitely improvements, as there are in photography, creative direction, artists and talents. But there are also some who stayed at the same spot since the time I started modelling.
Name the best part of being a model. The best part is having exclusive access to hard-to-reach places during location shoots, and most of all, having been shot by some great photographers at these places – the images are the best memories of my career.
What about your least favourite bit? When I encounter people who treat models as objects.
Qualities of a great model, in your opinion. Punctual, or early at jobs. Versatile, confident and possesses individuality.
We read that you would like to be a chef when you retire. Tell us about your gastronomic affair. Life is too short to eat bad food; I always source for eateries that use fresh ingredients and local produce when travelling. I always cook with a touch of spice – often too spicy for my European friends – and sometimes with a little fusion in my cuisine. Some musthave ingredients in my kitchen are coriander, ginger, lemongrass, and lime leaves.
Speaking of food, where do you usually get your laksa fix in Penang? I used to frequent a laksa stall next to Shell station in Farlim, but they have moved and the quality has dropped. My new go-to laksa spot is Kim Laksa in Balik Pulau. Alex Chai
Issac Dang wearing the Kenzo x H&M collection.