There are very few figures who have remained a constant within the fashion industry, but Tao Okamoto has been a mainstay for the last fifteen years, which given the fashion’s fast pace (further accelerated by social media) is a lifetime. Born in Japan, Tao started modelling at just age fourteen, where she then moved to Paris in 2006- the same year she signed to Elite where she later walked for Emanuel Ungaro and Martin Grant during Paris Fashion Week. It didn’t end there, after moving to New York in 2009 her unique bowl cut prompted designer Phillip Lim to dress each model in a wig based on her own choppy cut for Fall 2009.
There are very few brands Tao hasn’t represented in some shape or form, whether it be on the runway or featuring in a campaign. She’s walked for the likes of Alexander McQueen, Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, Fendi, Louis Vuitton, Maison Martin Margiela, Miu Miu, Vivienne Westwood and Yves Saint Laurent. Within the realm of glossy magazines Tao has also appeared in the pages of i-D Magazine, and several international editions of Harper's Bazaar and Vogue. It’s an impressive CV to say the least, one that many girls (myself included) can only dream of aspiring to.
As you can probably imagine, Tao has been recognised as one of the most successful models to have come from Japan, earning top honours including “Model of the Year” bestowed by the Japan Fashion Editor's Club and "Women of the Year" by Vogue Nippon in 2010. It's motivating in itself to know that there are hard-working women out there who have hustled within their own industry. The appeal of a model is a vehicle for clothing or blank canvas for designers, creative directors and editors alike to mould and shape as part of their own vision. But after taking a break from modelling and launching her career as an actress playing opposite of Hugh Jackman in The Wolverine (2013) she’s far from it. Whether she’s an ultra glamorous goddess from the near-future or dressed in a hyper-masculine and disproportionate suit Tao carries it off with ease and grace. Without meaning to undermine her success, I cannot wait for a time when more women like Tao rise to prominence and become more prevalent. There's still a distinct lack of diversity on our runways and in our magazines, with digital somewhat more progressive.