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And what about Naomi?
Trinidadian Naomi Chin Wing has hit the mother lode in the world of fashion. Winner of the 2015 Coco Velvet International’s Top Model T&T contest when she was a mere 15-year-old, Chin Wing was signed to a global modelling contract with Elite Latin & South America and IMG Model Management and made her international runway début on September 26 for Yves Saint Laurent. Two days later she was again on the runway for Rochas Paris at the Paris Spring/Summer 2018 Fashion Week.
Elated Coco Velvet International (CVI) CEO Christopher Nathan said: “I discovered Naomi in July 2015 at the Coco Velvet Fashion Workshop that was held at Nalis in Port-of-Spain. I was first struck by her height and body proportions which are perfect for the international fashion industry, as well as her unique Asian/Creole features. I later discovered that those same features caused Naomi to be bullied at high school, for her thick lips and skinny legs. Hopefully she will inspire young women who have similar features and physique which causes them to be insecure.
“I think what separates Naomi from other models is that killer instinct she has, a quality that many local models lack. On any given day, during its last week, the schedule for her Paris agency (IMG Model Management), included up to six castings and two runway shows. In the past I have signed Coco Velvet models to international contracts and after three months of a hectic schedule like that they throw in the towel and return to T&T. However, Naomi stuck with it, dealt with the pressure in a professional manner, and is enjoying the results and fruits of her labour.”
Chin Wing rounded off her European stint by modelling for Alexander Mc Queen which, when ended, made one of her dreams come true. Nathan explained: “After the McQueen show, world renowned fashion model icon Naomi Campbell, who is Chin Wing’s model idol, came backstage to be introduced to Chin Wing so impressed was she. She cautioned her to be ‘the good Naomi’.
“In the international modelling industry the names of A-list models are reserved. It is quite incredible that Chin Wing has been allowed to keep her name. IMG advised me that they were going to change her name to Omi as their can only be one Naomi (Campbell) but she was allowed to keep her name.”
About the meeting, Chin Wing said: “I was actually introduced to Naomi Campbell by a member of the Alexander Mc Queen team, it was amazing meeting such a fashion idol.”
Asked what it felt like to debut in front of hundreds of international photographers, media and fashion professionals for Yves Saint Laurent Spring/Summer fashion show at Paris Fashion Week, Chin Wing said: “I was nervous at first but that went away when I got in the catwalk, because I know that I have come a long way to be here.
“I think the most challenging part for me was being confident because I am still a bit shy. But, I put all the shyness and nervousness behind me and walked like no one was there.”
Chin Wing admits to coming a long way since she first embarked on her fashion journey and said: “I first learnt about modelling in primary school, I was always a little fashionista.
“In 2015, just two years ago, I went to a fashion/modeling workshop held by Coco Velvet International director Christopher Nathan. Although the workshop was already halfway through he still allowed me to participate in it.
“At first, I was very shy and introverted, so having to walk in front of everyone was quite nerve-wrecking but as the workshop continued I gained some confidence in myself and put a lot of work into my walk and my ability to be in front of the camera.”
Just past the age of 15 and choosing to leave home and migrate to a big country among strangers was not much of a challenge for Chin Wing. “It was quite easy for me because my mother was with me,” she said, “but it is hard on other girls who have to come to these cities by themselves.
“Confidence is one of my strengths. I have experienced bullying because of my height (5’ 11”) and size. I thought that I wasn’t good enough, or pretty, or too tall but now I know those things are not true. I simply tell people, ‘Hey, I am now representing Trinidad and Tobago internationally and that feels great.”
Chin Wing’s achievement is actually CVI’s ninth international success. Naming previous successes, Nathan singled out Crystal Noreiga, Dominique Armorer, Marsha Alexander, Paul-Robert Pryce, Kai Leggard, Michelene Auguste, Soowan Bramble and Wendy Fitzwilliams. Said Nathan: “Wendy was Coco Velvet’s principal model when she won the Miss Universe title in 1998. They were all trained at CVI’s annual fashion workshop and have developed into polished, accomplished models.
“I must acknowledge John Bilboa, director of Elite Latin & South America, which is CVI’s international management agency. He has been the one who has been responsible in signing the models internationally. Also Sharon Imbert who is the CVI fashion workshop coach.”
About the local fashion industry and whether modelling can be a viable career here Nathan said: “I believe our local fashion industry is a diamond in the rough that has the potential to become a very viable economic sector. However the fashion community has to start working together, support each other’s initiatives, and the projects by CAFD (UTT’s Fashion Academy) and FashionTT.
“CAFD graduates must be employed, even if it’s only on the basis of internship, to provide them with industry experience. There is too much fragmentation in the industry and players are craveteous and not willing to share opportunities when they come by.”
About her experience Chin Wing said: “I did enjoy my first major international fashion week experience. It was a lot of fun doing the shows and meeting girls from all over the world. I absolutely love Yves Saint Laurent and Alexander McQueen’s collections.”
Last week Chin Wing shot a beauty editorial for prestigious Harper’s Bazaar (India) before departing Paris for London. Currently based in London, she will be working out of NYC, London, Paris, LA, Milan and Sydney. Chin Wing is scheduled to return home to Trinidad during the second week in December for a short vacation.