INTERVIEW: Meet Kiko Arai, Miss Japan-turned Face of Balmain and Zara

February 06, 2018 12:11 AM

Kiko Arai hails from Osaka, Japan, and after winning the title of Miss Japan 2012, the now 27-year old is captivating a new audience– the fashion world. After a breakthrough debut in the Spring-Summer 2018 shows, Kiko’s name began to surge with each catwalk, from Calvin Klein and Acne to Prada, Balmain, and Givenchy. Her impact on the runway has been quickly adopted by the lens of Steven Meisel for Coach and Zara’s Spring-Summer 2018 advertising campaigns, as well as the latest Balmain campaign, photographed by the house’s own Olivier Rousteing. TWELV sat down with Kiko to get to know the light-hearted and contagiously charming rising star. 

Check inside for the Full Page Interview.



What did you have for breakfast?

Granola with bananas and a coffee. It’s my daily breakfast!

What song are you listening to the most right now?

“Last to Leave” featuring Caroline Ailin by Louis The Child and “Limitless” featuring Sophie Rose by Sam F.

What’s the most recent dream you remember?

I dreamt I was a little kid walking in the park with mom. She passed away when I was 19 years old. I was recently back home in Japan and was going through old photographs of me and my family, and I found a few of my mom that I hadn’t seen before. I think that prompted me to dream about her. It was really sweet! 

Are you superstitious?

No, not very.

Do you get nervous?

I get nervous sometimes when I go out on the runway, but I try to push past it and focus on doing my best. 

What was it like to work with Steven Meisel?

It was such an incredible experience! He has a clear vision of what he wants and is very detailed and exact. Many models say working with him is like working with a movie director, and it’s so true. He’s a wonderful teacher and gave me instructions on how to pose and move in front of the camera. I learned so much during the Coach shoot.  

And you’re now part of the #BalmainArmy, too. How is that? 

Balmain has been one of my favorite fashion houses ever since I started modeling. Olivier Rousteing is such a great talent and I respect him so much! Working with him has literally been a dream come true for me. Out of all the shows I walked in Paris last season, my sisters were most excited to see me in Balmain because super model Alessandra Ambrosio was right behind me on the runway.

If you’re not working, where are you most likely found?

At home relaxing, watching videos on YouTube. It’s my guilty pleasure on my days-off. I also enjoy spending time with my dad and two sisters, but we all live in different cities so it’s difficult to meet up unless it’s during the holidays.

Do you have a favorite artist?

I love the hip-hop dance duo, Les Twins. They’re identical twin brothers from France. I’m addicted to watching their performance videos online.

What’s something that most people don’t know about you?

My age! Most people think I’m 18 or 19 years old, which I guess I should take as a compliment.












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