Japanese stunner Chiharu Okunugi at New York Model Management has been a presence on the world’s runways since her Spring/Summer 2012 show debut. Whether she is starring in campaigns for Chanel, Dior or Céline, Chiharu lends a sophistication and elegance to everything she does. However, behind the beautiful exterior lies a strong work ethic and focus. For hopeful models aspiring to break into the industry, Chiharu’s agent Marina Fairfax has some words of advice, “Work hard and give this your one hundred percent focus; it’s not a job that can be done halfheartedly. It’s a competitive market and if you want to be signed then you have to be better than everyone else! When you are a new face and just starting out; never be late, rude or not looking your best – you can never redo a first impression.”

Tell us about how you were discovered.

When I was 16 I was scouted at a train station by a woman who worked at a modeling agency in Tokyo. I signed with them after that.

What were some of the misconceptions you had about the modeling industry when you entered it?

The first time I went to Paris for Fashion Week I thought it would be easier but it was really hard work going on castings and fittings for all of the shows. It was also the first time I went to another country all by myself.

Tell us about the challenges you’ve had to overcome in your career.

The biggest challenge was learning a new language. Before I started modeling I didn’t speak any English.

What are the most memorable moments of your career so far?

I was booked as an exclusive in the Balenciaga 2013 S/S show. I believe that changed my career a lot.

How did you feel when you received your Vogue Japan Women of the Year award?

I was so happy when I heard the news –  it was an amazing moment for me.

What do you miss most about home when you are traveling?

I miss Japanese food and my bed. Sometimes it’s really hard to find good food and I can’t really sleep if I’m not in my own bed.

Tell us about your goals for the future.

I want to keep modeling as much as I can. I really love my job and I think that this is my calling.

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