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Christina Park


Christina Park

She wound up taking a job at Wilhelmina Models... as an intern. "I wanted to see what I could do. I knew that fashion wasn't brain surgery.

"Learning how to do the books, cutting the images, cropping the pictures, and learning about the photographers, and the sets and the makeup artists, and the editorials and the catwalks, and the advertising, etc, etc... nobody's going to teach you that. That information has to be learned. The top people won't teach you, because if you have the ability to learn what they have, you're going to take it away from them.

"So I learned. And Wilhelmina was a very catalogue agency. I still had something missing. How can I have a complete agency if I don't know the high fashion? I wanted my own agency that I could grow into my own IMG, but better."

At the time Brussels-based Vision Models had just opened an office in Paris. The Belgian wave of models - Anouck Lepere, Hannelore Knuts, An Oost, Kim Peers - was just starting to hit, and Christina saw an opportunity. "I wanted to learn the business. I wanted to learn the editorial market, I wanted to learn the European way."

Christina contacted the owner of Vision and learned plans were in the works to open in New York. "I knew it wasn't the right time, but who was I? And she had business partners. So to make a long story short, she came to New York - I advised her against it, but she came anyway. She basically lost everything - Paris and New York. So I said let's save Brussels and I'll take over the New York agency."

Since opening in 2001, Vision New York has steadily evolved to a small empire of that city's most bookable editorial models, and last year expanded into Los Angeles.

Christina has no plans on expanding north of the border, but still holds this country close to her heart. "I love Canadians. Canadians made me who I am. Hockey made me who I am, really. I had a feistiness in me, but I think the toughness of the hockey culture - all the general managers and the agents, the mothers, and just how the business works, and so on - really taught me what I need to do, and shouldn't do. And the key to working in hockey is to love the game. If you want to make it, but you don't have the heart and the drive, you aren't going to make it.

"Modelling is the same thing. How many beautiful girls out there become washed up? You know why? They don't have the heart. They don't want to work for it. It's because their mother wants them to become a model. You have to work for it.

"It's all about individualism and not treating everyone the same. Everyone is different. You can't expect a rose to be an orchid. You have to treat it like a rose.

"When I see my brother - everyone said he's not tall enough, he's not strong enough, he's not enough anything. He made it! I don't care what anyone says. He's the only 100% Asian kid there. From California.

"So don't tell me what I can't do. Don't tell any girl I believe in they can't be a model, or they can't make it. Because I'll show you! That's my determination. Those are my principles. And I learned that in Canada!"