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How a Miss Japan Became the Newest Member of the Balmain Army

SEPTEMBER 28, 2017 11:00 PM

Olivier Rousteing may have brought back several supermodels of the early aughts for today’s Balmain show, but there was still room for fresh talent on his runway. Joining Natalia Vodianova, Natasha Poly, and a host of established models was Balmain first-timer Kiko Arai, a Japanese rising star who has been making the rounds at fashion month’s prestige collections. At 26, Arai isn’t the typical teenage new face, which feels rather refreshing. As the winner of the Miss Japan pageant in 2012, she is already well-known back home in Osaka, but she decided to make the jump into high fashion on the advice of her sister Hisae. “My elder sister, who was also modeling, had inspired me,” says Arai, who grew up immersed in tennis. “[Before being scouted,] I had concentrated on being a representative player on my university’s team—one of the top teams in Osaka—everyone was surprised by my change from sporty girl to fashion girl!”

Friends and family may have been shocked, but this season, Arai has proven herself essential to labels like Calvin Klein and Prada. Skilled at transforming into whatever form the designers dream up, she’s gone from playing an outlandish Queen of Hearts at Dolce & Gabbana to prim and polished at Lanvin. Embodying these different moods isn’t easy, but Arai enjoys the process. “It’s been challenging for me to deliver the 100 percent—or more than that—of what the team desires, but that’s why it’s so exciting when the team is satisfied by my performance,” says Arai, explaining that she is drawn to the breadth of creativity fashion lets her express. “I like the freedom! There are no rules. Everyone has their own style and philosophy for their work.”

Currently, Arai keeps busy even when she’s off duty by working with her family’s charity foundation on events to benefit Cambodian orphans and learning the ins and outs of photography with a good old-fashioned film camera. She’d like her career to reflect the variety she values in her personal life. Like her favorite models Candice Swanepoel and Sui He, she hopes to balance working with luxury giants and the fun stuff. “[I love] watching video of the Victoria’s Secret runway!” says Arai. This season, she’s picked up a few tips from the VS supermodel squad, including how to handle mishaps like a pro. “Always show your passion and energy from eyes. [Once,] my leg was cramping right before when I went on the runway, but I successfully walked through it,” she says. “I’m sure my gait looked strange, but I made it!” Spoken like a true professional.

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Vogue Japan January 2018


Photographer: Luca & Alessandro Morelli
Stylist: Tsuyoshi Noguchi
Hair: Katsuya Kamo
Make-Up: Haruka Tazaki
Models: Rina Fukushi, Kiko Arai, Hideki Asahina & Takuya Ebihara


Source: Vogue Japan Digital Edition -- By Zorka at the Fashion Spot


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