Duan Mei Yue has only been modelling for a year (and for biggies such as walking the Dior couture S/S’18 show in Shanghai and i-D Japan) but the gangly teen’s quirky features and equally quirky Instagram account has seen her amass a.lot.of.fans. We count ourselves among the legion (more than 27k followers at the time of writing) that avidly follow the 19-year-old’s every move on Instagram (@dmeiyue), where she’s known to frequently post Stories of the many fan drawings she receives, as well as slapstick faces of herself in “unglamorous” poses – such as zooming really, really up close to zits.

To say she’s disarmingly relatable would be an understatement (the Gen Z version of Jennifer Lawrence?) – hell, even when we conducted this interview with her, she opted to reply through WhatsApp with answers that were replete with exclamation marks and Emojis.

In the spirit of her well, spiritedness, we’re replicating Duan’s answers here verbatim.

Hi Mei Yue, what got you into modelling in the first place?

“I have always wanted to be part of the fashion industry! I actually wanted to be a fashion designer when I was a child but I doubt I can do it now because I can’t sew and I don’t think I’m creative enough. Modelling is the next best thing! And honestly, K-pop and anime were part of my motivation to become a model. I saw how the K-pop idols I obsessed over at that time walked Seoul Fashion Week and they were invited to various fashion shows during the fashion week circuit in Europe and New York so I thought maybe I should become a model to meet them lol. I started watching fashion shows from there and I saw how beautiful and ethereal fashion models are and thought, ‘wow it must be amazing to be so beautiful.’

I was so inspired and I desperately wanted to be a part of that. My friends and family kept telling me that I could model with my height and should not waste my genetic blessing; basically, try to chase after my dreams!!! So I lost weight and went for it!!”

What projects would you consider to be the personal highlights of your career so far?

Dior Haute Couture (S/S’18) in Shanghai, Sephora Singapore’s Chinese New Year campaign, Alexa Chung, i-D Japan, Vogue Korea, having Kendall Jenner like my picture on a fashion page on Instagram, having about a hundred drawn art of my pictures, my favourite Instagram accounts following me back and becoming Tumblr and Pinterest famous! ?????”

Being a model today also requires one to have a substantial social media following – do you employ a certain strategy when it comes to maintaining your own IG account?

“I feel that although social media make a significant impact in a model’s career, it isn’t a required necessity! As long as you have an interesting and [have a] good look with a strong agency and management, you can go very far in this industry.

I realised this in Seoul where I had a roommate with an amazing look – she’s signed with Elite Worldwide and The Society NY. Despite not having thousands of followers, she has already walked for Prada S/S’19 and Dior cruise 6 months into her career. On my part, social media definitely helps as more people will know of you, which makes you more desirable to clients with the added publicity. I don’t exactly have a “strategy”, I just plan my feed with the feed planner application UNUM and schedule posts at the recommended timing. Honestly, Instagram is more fun than it is work for me!”

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In recent years, the industry has been all about celebrating distinctive (some might say alternative) beauty looks – what are your thoughts on this issue?

“LOVE IT! Growing up, beauty and my appearance were so important to me. Vanity is a big part of my personality hahaha, and my perception of beauty was (being) fair, big eyes, tall but small nose and small lips. I used to wear double eyelid tape, circle lenses, eyeliner, fake lashes and conceal my lips to make it smaller. It was so uncomfortable but I kept doing it partly because it was fun but also because I just wanted to be beautiful! I even considered plastic surgery to have nose fillers, double eyelid surgery and (to) cut the inner corner of my eyes so that they would be closer together. I have been made fun of and I have been called ugly ‘your face really cannot make it; so many times because of how far apart my eyes are. My weight, nose and eyes became a really big complex of mine but after getting involved in this industry, I have come to appreciate myself so much more! So I am really thankful for this ongoing celebration ?♥”

What would you say are your strengths as a model?

“I am excited to do anything new different or conceptual! I genuinely enjoy working as a model to the point where it does not feel like a job. Shooting and shows are so fun because I get to be shamelessly beautiful (because that is what I am required to do!) My weakness is my lack of confidence in my body hahaha.”

What would be the ultimate modelling job for you? Who would you love to collaborate with?

“(Landing) the Cover of Vogue Italia, walking for every major fashion house, and earning the Hot List status (on Models.com). I just want to be everywhere! I would love to work with John Galliano, Marc Jacobs, Donatella Versace, my favourite models, Pat Mcgrath and so on – I have so many!!”

Who are some of your own modelling idols?

“I have way too many! I absolutely adore Liuwen, her walk is my favourite. I also really like Kiko Mizuhara, Yuka Manami, Hecong, Yoon Young Bae, Park Sora, Hyoyeon and I especially look up to Chu Wong! I have met He Cong, Yoon Young and Chu Wong at the Dior couture show in Shanghai and it was just mind-blowing!! I cried on the casting director’s shoulder the moment I saw Chu Wong when we were waiting for the bus to pick us up. It was life changing! After the after-party, I took the bus back to the hotel with them and had a long talk with Chuwong and lol, I honestly died!!”