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Fri, Oct 23, 2009
The New Paper
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Working in a foreign land for China model Liu Dan is..No Tall Order
by Kwok Kar Peng

AT ONLY 17, when most Singaporean girls would be mugging for their exams or chilling out at Orchard Road, Liu Dan did things her peers could only day dream of.

She lived in the romantic city of Paris for three months and took part in the Paris Fashion Week.

The 24-year-old Beijing-born model told The New Paper: “I was daring. It was only when I was in Paris and realised that I didn’t know anyone there that I found out it’s not easy to be alone.”

Liu Dan entered the industry after taking part in a modelling competition in China when she was 15.

She admitted she cried when she couldn’t find her way around Paris.

But she said she never called home to complain to her parents.

Nor did she wish she could go home.

Her resilience paid off.


Over the next seven years, the leggy model ended up working the runways of New York, Milan, Hong Kong and China .

Her work has taken her around the world, including Los Angeles, US Virgin Islands of St Thomas, San Francisco,Germany, Thailand and Japan .

Liu Dan was in Singapore for the first time for ION Orchard’s official opening this week.

The 1.79m tall girl was selected to be the face of the new shopping mall, and will be featured in its publicity campaign.

She will be working the runway this Friday evening outside ION Orchard.

The New Paper met her at her hotel yesterday where she turned up in a purple Ferragamo dress and black casual pumps.

Liu Dan said the Paris trip was her first time overseas.

The independent girl said she adapted fast to her new surroundings.

Weird encounters But she always kept a photo of her parents in her wallet to remind her of home.

She settled down in Paris in less than a month, with help from fellow Chinese model Lü Yan, who had worked in the city for more than a year then.

She said: “I went to less than half of my auditions because I couldn’t find my way around.

“But I met Lü Yan in my first show there and she took me out and showed me how to get around. She even taught me how to cook. It’s not true that modelling is a cut-throat industry.”

Although her work does not allow her a lot of time at home, Liu Dan said she enjoys travelling as it allows her to experience different places and cultures. So what was her most frightening experience overseas?

She claimed she’s never been mobbed, and did not have any chilling incidents to share.

But her “scariest encounter” happened in New York when she walked past a particularly seedy area on her way to an audition, she said.

Her cousin had told her that locals in the area sometimes wielded guns.

Though she was scared, she walked away unscathed with only a trail of wolf whistles.

She recalled another incident while she waited for the subwayin Paris.

“A man came up to talk to me, I think to ask for directions, and I told him I didn’t know. Before he left, he leaned forward and tried to kiss me on the cheek. I was shocked speechless but I avoided his kiss in time.

“He didn’t look like a bad guy, more like an artist,” she said.

She was almost the target of a scam artiste in Paris too.

A man claiming to be from a big company had approached her to have lunch with him.

He said he would find her work.

Thankfully, she “didn’t dare to go” and later learnt from Lü Yan that the man was probably a conman as he didn’t even have a business card, she said.

Liu Dan apparently shares the same name with several well-known personalities.

A check on Chinese search engine Baidu throws up 21 people listed with the exact same name.

The list includes a 65-year-old Hong Kong actor, a female national basketball player, and an actress who starred in the Chinese drama My Fair Princess.

But the model said she will not change her name.

She explained: “A friend once gave my birth date to a fortune teller to calculate a name for me.

“One of the names that popped up was Liu Ya, which I didn’t like because I heard it doesn’t sound that nice in Cantonese. Therefore, I decided to stick to my original name.”

This article was first published in The New Paper.

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