Interview with Shinyong Lee
After spending one year as a singer in Korea in 2002, Shinyong Lee started her modeling career in 2005, focusing mainly on fashion shows, commercials, and fashion photo shootings for catalogues and magazines. Her clients include Pirelli, Amatora Co., Ltd, VANTAN Cutting Edge and she appeared in the official magazine for Ferrari. In addition to appearing in print she has also worked in commercial and television productions including Majisuka-Gakuen for TV Tokyo and J-League CM Sagan Tosu Ver. for Sky Perfect TV! among others.
Shinyong has always been involved in fashion and an advocate for women. She established PrixPrix Co., Ltd. and its online select shop in April 2012, for the purpose of selecting and providing both domestic and foreign products that enhances the sexiness, gorgeousness, and elegance of Japanese women. PrixPrix is also creating its original products in corroboration with both foreign and domestic creators.
Through image creations for its merchandises and the PrixPrix homepage galleries, Shinyong continues to express herself as a model, at the same time, provides a place where other models, photographers and artists can express themselves together with her.
PrixPrix’ s images and visions are of Shinyong’ s own, or one can say that, PrixPrix is Shinyong herself.
Shinyong, can you start by telling us a little about yourself and where you grew up?
My father was a soldier and mother was a hair and make-up stylist. Some people say that I am definitely influenced by my parents. They say that I have the ability to make hi-speed decisions and the curiosity to search out and find beautiful and unique things.
How did you come to be living in Japan?
I have been in Japan since I was born. I was born in Fukuoka but soon I left to Okinawa. And I lived there for 8 years. I think my country is Okinawa now. I want to try to have a shoot there, a very dramatic portrait one day. (Before I get older!)
You were a singer for a short period of time. Was singing a career path you were interested in?
At first, I wanted to be a famous person, a person who could influence people. Singing was one of my talents. I just wanted to be a person who could move peoples hearts. Maybe I wanted to shout peace to the world or sing about other important things. Young people tend to think and dream about such things but now I think I was just happy that I could make my families and friends happy as I appeared on TV at that time. The important people in my life are always by my side and they support me.
How did you first begin modeling and do you remember your first assignment? Were you nervous?
When I came back to Japan I continued on with my singing career but it didn’t last too long. I decided to start something new, it was modeling. I was searching for other places where I could express myself.
I have loved art, photography and music since I was a child. I consider modeling one of arts, the same as drawing, photos and music. In the beginning, though, there were only a few jobs for me because I was not skinny as a model needed to be yet. I worked very hard to make my body model-like.
I think my my first job was a little hair show. The first impressive job was a image model for Pirelli. I got really nervous. I didn’t have the confidence to be a model at that time. I thought I was not beautiful. I hated my face. I just had long legs but big . So I kept deciding to quit modeling over and over again but it was so strange that I didn’t actually do it.
As a model what have been some of your favorite shoots?
As a model, I think there is no more pleasure than I could meet nice artists, like Alfie Goodrich, Kanako Furuta, Hidetoshi Osanai. I know there are lots of famous artists in the world but it is difficult to get friends who can share ‘my brain’.
Kanako Furuta is one of my oldest friends, hair-make up artist who found me and lead me to some work with her. It has been 7 years since we met. When she got a prize at JHA awards in 2011, she used my photos. If I didn’t meet her, I would not be here. Maybe I would have quit my job and become mother or work doing somewhere. She taught me what a fun, wonderful and unique world we could make by ourselves.
Alfie and I just met last winter, but we have many common things. We are same hight(172cm), same Chinese astrology, and same birthday! I called us crones. At first, we met through an agent in Tokyo. We had a chat at a little at cafe and went out for a test shoot. That was our first meeting, very normal as a photographer and a model. But we have a much different point from other photographer and model combinations. We do not only take photos for our creation, but produce product image shot for our business. I started PrixPrix Co., Ltd this April and opened an online boutique in June. Alfie set up PrixPrix HP together and now he is taking pictures for PrixPrix. He has photographed most of the brands in PrixPrix (except Amatora).
Mr. Osanai is CEO at BLOOM Beauty Science Co., Ltd. I met him about 2years ago. I just saw the video of his hair show on Youtube. I was really interested in his work and I searched his HP, sent the email. We did kimono shooting and Mr.Osanai did styling and make-up. That photo was shown in Paris.
He is now joined PrixPrix’s new project and we also took a new image photo for Tattoo sticker. He also helps us for promoting other product especially make-up items.
What do you think are your strongest features?
Well, for a fashion show model, my height is too short. I really wanted to appear in a fashion show abroad but I could found my place in photo work instead. I always try to make an image which has passion, drama and has a story too. At the fashion show I am there to show their clothes (it is not bad work, I mean it’s the job we have to do), but with photo work, I can setup the scene with the photographer. It is so fun.
There are many models more beautiful than I am. Some have incredible proportions, but I do not. My strong points are my imagination and my emotional expression. People who see my photos say, ‘You look different in each photo’. Because I don’t concentrate on if I look beautiful, I always think about what kind of woman I am being. It is me but not me, it is fake but it is real.
As a model whose appearance was very important to her career and who was in-tune with the fashion world did you see yourself as a role model for other women?
In my future, I want try to have photo shooting under the water or, I want to act some wild woman who can see in our history such as a Queen or someone had power once. I want to express strong side and weak side both. Everyone has their peak and hell point in their life.
You are also an actress. Can you tell us about some of the projects you have appeared in?
I was once appeared on TV drama program with AKB48. My part was a bad girl who always would fight with the other students at their school. Weird My acting career only had a few roles but I would like to continue to explore acting in the future.
Tell us a little about why and how you started Prix Prix.
There’s two reasons I started my own company. One is very simple. I wanted to increase my presence. Wanted to show my photos to many more people. I wanted make more nice photos with my friends and professional artists. Through this work I want to share our sense with many Japanese people.
Another reason is I wanted to introduce high quality and beautiful things to more people. I have been a model for Amatora (Amatora Co., Ltd) and once I introduced their products to the department store in Nihonbashi. Soon that store started to sell Amatora and my photo is also set by the product. I realized that this promotion will be increase my presentation and products at the same time. So I decided to open the online shop for the items I have ever worked with.
Now you can see other items for which I didn’t model for earlier but are very impressive, nice products and I do model them at PrixPrix HP.
What types of merchandise can be found at Prix Prix?
PrixPrix’s concept is ‘sexy’, ‘gorgeous’ and ‘elegant’. So PrixPrix selects such items for especially Japanese women. I think this elegance is the most important factor for PrixPrix.
Girls can be sexy and gorgeous when they wear some nice clothes and make-up brilliantly. But it goes naughty easily.
Elegance is from inside of our mind. it appears in the way we move, speak and when we get older. It appears on the face and body line, for example.
I want to be such an elegant women but it’s not easy… I am making my best effort.
Product elegance appears in many qualities like fabric and its texture. color, materials and so on.
A good manufacturer or brand can imagine the kinds of people who use their items and are always searching for ways to better those people. I am always learning it from our clients. PrixPrix is selecting those nice items. We have ladies clothes, hair care items, unique shoes, swimwear, lingerie and corsets. All items are recommended to make women more sexy, gorgeous and elegant.
For example, Beautiful hair is necessary for women. Most of all Amatora’s products are silicone-free and can make you hair more healthy and beautiful.
Some people are surprised to see Vibram FiveFingers shoes, but it makes leg muscles more beautiful. With high-heels and narrow pumps, women’s legs are crying. They become painful and uncomfortable. It makes it hard to walk, causes pain in the back, shoulders and neck. Bad posture is not for beautiful women. One of the solutions is Vibram FiveFingers.
Prix Prix is much more than just the merchandise you sell. You feature the international designers who create it as well. Why is this important?
In this world, connecting with each other easily can be achieved using the internet, broadcasting, mobile and so on. Even though we are in this data flood, there are more things we don’t know. We can get the information we want easily but not good at showing our things to people around us. I am practicing it with young designers and artists now.
It is a way to empower women and you also support and manage artists and do event planning. Can you tell us more about this side of the business?
PrixPrix is now growing but still small and people don’t know us well. So now models and artists are supporting me and PrixPrix. We’re just giving a place for them to express their ideas or items. Starting out I am studying how the business works and how to succeed in this business. I am now selling nice items and our image on the PrixPrix HP but I am also trying to sell ‘Magokoro’ （sincerity, thoughtful, hearty things.. how can I express?）in fact. Through the products, PrixPrix and customers connect and feel each other and think what they want next, what should be here next, what can be nice for customers. Anyway I am learning those things right now.
Where can we go to find out more about you?
Shinyong blog: (Japanese): http://ameblo.jp/shin-yong/
Online select boutique PrixPrix: http://www.prixprix.co.jp/