Run­way sen­sa­tion

> Rina Fukushi is tak­ing the world by storm

The Sun (Malaysia) - - FASHION -

AGED just 17 and still liv­ing with her fam­ily, Rina Fukushi has seen more of the world than most Ja­panese school­girls. She is the new­est model sen­sa­tion mak­ing waves in Europe and New York, wow­ing on the run­way for the likes of Miu Miu and Marc Ja­cobs when not chow­ing down on ham­burg­ers or play­ing with her lit­tle brother.

Dis­cov­ered at 14, hailed by as “ul­tra-cool” and “eye-catch­ing” with her enor­mous eyes, thick eye­brows and bee-st­ing lips, she is al­ready the vet­eran of sea­sons in Paris, Mi­lan and New York – giv­ing Amer­i­can models Gigi Ha­did and Ken­dall Jen­ner a run for their money.

“I al­ways be­lieved I could be a star from the mo­ment I was scouted. But at the same time, I still can’t be­lieve it’s real,” says Fuku shi, de­light­fully friendly and gig­gly, yet equally self-as­sured for her age.

She ar­rives early for an in­ter­view with AFP, tak­ing time out from her packed sched­ule at Tokyo Fash­ion Week to meet at a chic cafe.

Quick to laugh, she is a dab hand at sign lan­guage to ease gaps in lost in Ja­panese-English trans­la­tion, yet both shy and vi­va­cious, fault­lessly po­lite and to­tally ab­sorbed in the world of fash­ion.

A girl who loves to rum­mage around vin­tage stores when­ever she is trav­el­ling, she dresses for the in­ter­view in black – mini skirt from Paris, turtle­neck from Ja­pan – and brown hand­bag from Mi­lan.

A sil­ver pen­dant in­scribed “Rina”, in Ja­panese script, hangs from her neck and she car­ries a leather jacket from Beau­ti­ful Peo­ple, a Ja­panese la­bel for whom she walked the pre­vi­ous night.

Her sched­ule is pun­ish­ing: She’s up at 7am, rushes from show to show, work­ing un­til 10pm and fi­nally falls into bed around 1am.

LOVES NEW YORK

In be­tween it all, she is study­ing, which she does on­line to fit around her sched­ule. When high school ends in March she hopes to spend more time in New York, which she loved vis­it­ing in Septem­ber. “I re­ally like the peo­ple,” she ex­plains, laugh­ing when asked if she thinks New York is loud and dirty com­pared to Tokyo. She loves the en­ergy, the di­ver­sity and the get-up-and-go at­ti­tude. Marc Ja­cobs left a deep im­pres­sion. She thought his spring/sum­mer show of rain­bow rasta­far­ian locks “so cute”, al­though she dis­solves into more laugh­ter when asked what his tow­er­ing, sev­eninch plat­form boots were like to walk in. “I was re­ally care­ful not to slip.” Wear­ing no make-up, her face is ra­di­ant with nat­u­ral beauty, and her dark brown hair falls just be­low the shoul­der. It used to be longer, but was cut – with­out warn­ing – back­stage at Alexan­der Wang. As a model it pays to be pro­fes­sional and amenable. Fukushi is both, and be­sides, the soft-spo­ken Tai­wanese-Amer­i­can fash­ion ge­nius of New York ur­ban cool was “so kind” to her. “He didn’t know where I was from,” she gig­gled. De­scribed in the Ja­panese fash­ion press as “ex­otic” Fukushi is the daugh­ter of a Span­ish-Filipino mother and a Ja­panese-Amer­i­can fa­ther. Born in Manila, the fam­ily re­turned to Ja­pan when she was a baby, and she grew up in Tokyo, al­though she speaks Ta­ga­log as well as Ja­panese. “I thought she had the per­fect pro­por­tions,” says her agent Mayumi Koza­kura, in­cred­i­bly one of three scouts who spot­ted her the first day she went out shop­ping with a friend in Tokyo’s Hara­juku dis­trict.

BE­ING JA­PANESE

But at 176cm, Fukushi is short for a run­way model, by Western stan­dards.

It’s one of the rea­sons she ad­mires Kate Moss so much: the Bri­tish model who de­fied beauty norms by pi­o­neer­ing so-called heroin chic is even shorter.

“When she wears clothes, they look fab­u­lous,” Fukushi says of Moss. “She has in­ner beauty and I think that is so im­por­tant.”

Tokyo Fash­ion Week sees Ja­panese de­sign­ers mostly shun Asian models in favour of white Western girls, al­beit with cat­walks in Europe and New York un­der in­creas­ing pres­sure to show di­ver­sity.

“I like my­self and I have con­fi­dence. What is wrong about be­ing Asian or Ja­panese?” she says. “I don’t feel ‘I am sorry for be­ing Ja­panese’. If I am con­fi­dent that clothes look good on me, peo­ple don’t see any­thing wrong. So it doesn’t an­noy me.”

She is dream­ing big. She would love to front a cam­paign and walk for Chanel, and per­haps be­come an ac­tress or singer later in life.

She’s a fan of J-pop and likes to re­treat into na­ture when she gets oc­ca­sional time off.

But mostly she’s work­ing. Oth­er­wise, she sleeps or eats, she jokes. Ham­burg­ers in New York and steak are her favourites. –AFP

Rina Fukushi is giv­ing Gigi Ha­did and Ken­dall Jen­ner a run for their money.

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