What It Takes To Be A Runway Supermodel

A casual chat with the Japanese model extraordinaire

Ai Tominaga is regarded as  one of the Japan’s most prominent runway supermodels, having debuted her as one of the very first Asian models on famed European catwalk runways.

Besides appearing on various magazine covers such as Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and Elle, Ai has walked in runway shows for Karl Lagerfeld, Gucci, Michael Corrs, Ralph Lauren, Dolce and Gabbana and many other famous fashion designers.

In this interview, I find out about the life of a supermodel, her outlook on life, and what she likes to do when she’s off the big stage.

What do you think about yourself? Fun? Adventurous?
I’m positive and a perfectionist when it comes to work.

Please share with us your best and worst experiences. 
The most memorable experience that I have was having the opportunity to work with the best when I was abroad, and having the chance to grow as a model since I started working at an adolescent age at 15. Those experiences helped build my career and made me who I am today.

Bad experiences include the feeling of frustration when I was not able to communicate in English at the time. However, overall, I thought that experience turned out to be a good one.


What makes a world class supermodel,what do they have in common?
I’m the one who wants to know the answer to this question…! Well, in my point of view, I think all supermodels have extremely high aesthetic sense. They are able to use their aesthetics in a cool manner while seeing themselves in third person. They also have a sense of avidness and pureness towards expressions.  

Is language capability and height a must? Do they have to be pretty?
Height: It’s probably better to have some height.

Language: Language capability is necessary but it does not need to be perfect. Language will come naturally when you’re in that environment.

Pretty: One’s individuality is one’s beauty.

Asian models are very popular now on the world’s fashion stage, why?
Perhaps the reason for the rising popularity of Asian models on world’s fashion stage is how Western society, where fashion was originated, is finally seeing the Asian market as vigorous and significant. With that said, I am happy that Asian models are now being recognized.

What is your advice to those hoping to be a world class model?
My advice to those aspiring to be world class models is to just go to NY, Paris, wherever, because you never know if you don’t try. 

What is the latest international style?
The words powerful and career-oriented used to serve as keywords describing the future idealistic woman. However, a bold image is no longer sufficient. Attributes such as love, family and flexibility combined are significant attributes that a woman figure should display today.

What are the brands that you acre collaborating with now? Which are your favourite brands and why?
I’m working with a lot of brands and I like all of them.

What do you do off stage?
I do a lot TV shows, radio and event work besides modelling, and I usually spend my days off with my son.

After modelling,what’s your next destiny? Start your own brand or something?
I do not have plans to start my own brand and do not intend to retire. I will continue to model for as long as I can.

When was your breakthrough in your career as a model that takes you to the world stage? How did it feel then and were you emotionally overwhelmed?
My breakthrough as a model in the world stage was a rather natural process since my manager and people around me at the time constantly persisted that I challenge myself abroad. After taking that first step, I realized that it was where I wanted to be and began to take modelling seriously.

What do supermodels do when they are not at work? Do they live life in the fast lane? 
I don’t know about other supermodels but I spend my time with my son when I’m not at work.

Who is your favourite designer? And which model do you envy the most?
I like many designers and do not have a particular favorite. I also do not envy a specific model.

Who’s your inspirational idol? Why?
I do not have an inspirational idol. Recently, I’m interested in actresses such as Charlotte Rampling and Marion Cotillard.

What is your principle in life? 
My principle in life is to be strict to yourself. 

What fashion & style mean to you?        
Fashion and style mean magic. They have the ability to help express my thoughts and hopes on how and what I want to be.

If your child becomes a model, what would be your ultimate advice?
My ultimate advice to my son would be to have other jobs while modelling and good luck!

What do you eat?
I mainly eat vegetable, fish and fermented food.  I do not eat meat, and I enjoy umeboshi (preserved plum) and natto.

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