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In the modeling biz, it’s quite typical that a girl will follow up a quiet first season with a stellar second one. Such was the case of 21-year-old Lina Zhang, Fusion’s latest addition from China. The 5-foot, 10-inch beauty had a modest debut season for spring 2012, walking in just a handful of shows. Then came a slew of editorials — i-D, Harper’s Bazaar China, Marie Claire China, Numéro China — and for fall 2012, she killed it, landing on 37 runways (Dries Van Noten, Alexander McQueen, Proenza Schouler, Hermès, Celine). While Zhang is still living in Shanghai, she’s working on moving to New York. In the meantime, she’s spending any spare time brushing up on her English.
Did you consider yourself beautiful growing up?
Beauty isn’t overly recognized in China until you are doing things that are considered important, and then you gain more attention. I’ve always felt really comfortable with who I am, but that comfort was never really based on my looks. When people told me I could be a successful model, I was interested because of the opportunity to travel.
So modeling wasn’t always a dream of yours?
No, it wasn’t something I gave a lot of thought to. I grew up hoping to have my own business one day. I still hope to. I admire strong businesswomen. I’d love to do something to help underprivileged women.
Were you a good student?
My grades were decent. I always tried to do my best. I liked social studies the most, because I love learning about history. I grew up in a little village in China, and the best thing about where I’m from is that it has a 5,000-year history. People still practice ancient Chinese medicine there.
What’s your family like?
My parents are very kind, hard-working people, and very encouraging. I have a brother, and he’s very dear to my heart. He’s still in school, but I hope one day to bring him to New York during fashion week. I’d love to have him come see the shows and what I do.
What do you like to do when you’re not working?
Lately, I’ve been spending a lot of my free time studying English and trying very hard to improve. That’s what I’ve been spending all my spare time on!