Do blondes have more . . . luck?

Li Xiao Xing might say so. She dyed her hair platinum before the fall rtw season, and Versace, Fendi, Carolina Herrera and Alexander Wang all booked her. “I never did shows like that before; I guess because of my hair. But I didn’t change my face at all.” Turns out she and model Fernanda Ly, known for her long pink locks, have the same hairdresser. “That colorist is changing two girls’ careers,” Xiao Xing said. “But it’s good that they didn’t dye my hair pink.”

This story first appeared in the April 20, 2016 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

How did you get started?

I was a winner of the Elite Model Look competition in China when I was 21. I was in university at the time. This girl saw me on the street and said, “Hey, maybe you can be a model.” Because I was tall. But I refused it. I went home, but my mom said, “No way.” Because to her, I’m not really a Chinese beauty. In China, [beautiful girls] are like dolls. They have big eyes — like baby girls. So I’m like a monster to them. My mom would see magazines and TV commercials, and the models are all dolls. She was like, “No, this is not going to work for you.”

How did your career end up taking off, then?

I did a casting for Beijing Fashion Week and nobody picked me. Nobody even looked at me. They were probably like, “Oh, she’s so ugly.” So my mom was like, “See? I told you!” But the Elite Model agency sent my picture to Paris. The agency in Paris wanted me. After I won the Elite Model Look, my picture was everywhere. I left home for four months for the modeling competition. I had to lie to my mom because otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to do it. My sister was helping me lie. This was my only chance and I wanted to give it a try.

Growing up in China, what were you into?

I never thought I could be a model. I was a sporty girl. I used to play football with boys all the time. I never had long hair when I was young. I have a sister two years older than me and she is so beautiful. We have the same parents and we look so different. She wanted to be a model. She’s so girly, always in dresses….She always stole my mom’s high heels and makeup. We always fight. We love each other, but we fight.

If you weren’t a model, what do you think you’d be doing?

I could be a cleaning lady, maybe [laughs]. You know, my dream job was to be a teacher. But my mom always said, “Little kids, you would drive them crazy!” I only like little kids, not older kids. They’re boring.