With razor-sharp cheekbones and a fresh-faced beauty, Chinese model Sui He is one of a handful of East Asian models that have risen to gain global recognition on and off the runways, thanks to a number of high-profile editorials, campaigns, and cosmetics contracts. Born in the coastal city of Wenzhou – or ‘pleasant city’, for its mild climate and prosperous people – just a few hours south of Shanghai, Sui He was part of her high school swim team and class president. At age 17, she entered and won a national modeling competition, which enabled her to model locally.
In 2010, she signed to New York Model Management and posed in an advertising campaign for Brunello Cucinelli. Her breakthrough moment came in New York in early 2011, when she opened the Ralph Lauren runway show for Autumn/Winter 2011 – the first Asian model ever to do so. Soon after, she was featured in the brand’s advertising campaigns and also rapidly appeared in editorials for top fashion magazines like Numéro, V, and W magazines, photographed by such celebrated photographers as Inez and Vinoodh and Terry Richardson. As part of a second wave of East Asian models to appear and work for Western brands, Sui He has set some formidable milestones. Besides being the first Asian model to open for Ralph Lauren’s runway shows, she was the second ever to walk in the annual and much-publicized Victoria’s Secret runway show, after Liu Wen. She has a lucrative contract with cosmetics giant Shiseido – she is also the first Asian model to do this – and is now a fixture in Vogue China, which she first covered in 2011.