In the 2 short weeks the 22-yr-old Canadian model was in China, she discovered solely disappointment, and then a violent demise during a robbery.
The seemingly random homicide so soon before the Olympic Games has shocked a city that prides itself as China’s most fashionable. It additionally raised questions a few freewheeling trend scene that lures growing numbers of younger foreigners _ who discover some job requests require no posing for the digital camera.
Days after Diana O’Brien’s body was discovered, police in Shanghai said Friday that they had arrested 18-12 months-old Chen Jun. Police said Chen confessed to following her into her high-rise condominium, robbing her and killing her when she tried to struggle him off.
The slaying embarrassed police, who waited two days after O’Brien’s body was discovered to release a statement _ a brief two sentences _ about her death.
The murder was a blunt ending to O’Brien’s unhappy stay in China, the place her modeling desires met the reality of Shanghai’s usually unregulated trade. The identical metropolis that hosted Salvatore Ferragamo’s eighty-12 months retrospective this spring also has overseas fashions, some just teenagers, dancing in bars and promoting alcohol.
The main points of O’Brien’s loss of life stay unclear. The Globe and Mail newspaper in Toronto reported she was stabbed and present in a pool of blood in a stairwell, with a trail of blood leading from her residence.
Her body may have gone unnoticed for hours. The police report said Chen entered her apartment Sunday night and that the first emergency name didn’t come till about 5:30 a.m. Monday.
Chen was discovered Friday with a laptop computer and other objects from the condominium, police mentioned.
O’Brien, who came from a small group exterior Vancouver and was described by friends as outgoing, had been homesick and uncomfortable with her work in Shanghai.
“There have been few modeling jobs. ‘Why do not you be a hostess?’ as they put it,” mentioned Barry Kazakoff, a buddy in her hometown of 10,000, Saltspring Island. He mentioned O’Brien deliberate to cut quick her three-month contract and return home early but was waiting to do one last modeling job.
The little-known Shanghai-primarily based modeling company that brought O’Brien to China and organized her housing and security, JH Model Administration, has disappeared. Its Web site was taken down Tuesday, and a young man at its listed handle, an condominium, stated he did not know of the agency or O’Brien’s case.
Wang Jiwei, an official in the news department of Shanghai’s Public Security Bureau, declined to answer questions Friday. Canada’s overseas affairs department didn’t immediately respond to a telephone request for data. Her father, reached by cellphone in Canada, additionally declined to remark.
O’Brien, who had been modeling for three years, almost did not go to China as a result of she was anxious about shedding her boyfriend _ however her latest modeling work in Milan, Italy, motivated her to go, Kazakoff stated.
“She was a free spirit, however not a danger-taker,” he said. “She wanted to see the world, and the way in which to do this was to step out of her comfort zone and be a model.”
O’Brien was expecting runway work but quickly faced requests to dance at bars to draw clients and work corporate parties.
“She had talked about it not being what she needed to be doing _ she would not drink, and it did not actually fit into her profile” mentioned longtime boyfriend 32-year-outdated Joel Barry, speaking from his residence in Salt Spring Island.
“She wished to return home. We’re within the summer here and we’re on a dock on the lake and there’s plenty of love between us and I assume China is simply smoggy all the time. … She was extraordinarily homesick.”
O’Brien’s modeling company in Victoria, Canada, launched a press release denying she had been asked to dance in bars.
“She typically mentioned it was a dream come true for her and wanted to journey the world along with her profession,” the Barbara Coultish company mentioned. “She instructed us that she was happy in Shanghai and loved the agency, the town and her roommates.”
Others in Shanghai’s modeling world said they thought the murder wasn’t connected to O’Brien’s work, but they apprehensive concerning the dangers to aspiring models drawn to town’s rising trend scene.
“So many businesses send women right here without really realizing,” mentioned Marion Dorel, a former mannequin from France who spent 13 years within the business in China. “Watch out, clients can ask for bizarre things _ to sleep with them, to sleep with their purchasers, to go to karaoke. In fact you possibly can say ‘no,’ however it’s not a pleasant state of affairs.”
One Shanghai casting call asked for fashions to strip to their underwear and soar on a trampoline whereas being filmed, stated Jeremy Stockton Johnson, a vogue photographer who stated he additionally has been asked if fashions are available to strip at parties.
Worse circumstances include companies that take away a mannequin’s passport or withhold fee till the end of a contract.
“You would run a modeling agency out of your house with a cellular phone,” Johnson stated.
Town’s Agent Committee, beneath the Administration of Industry and Commerce, stated more than 1,800 “leisure brokers,” including modeling brokers, have handed a test to be qualified. But there’s no additional oversight, people in the industry said.
“Up to now, the problem with China’s modeling trade is that there’s no strict regulation,” mentioned Wang Yiqun, a professor of modeling at Donghua College in Shanghai.
But models and agencies say the local trade is rapidly leaving its past behind.
Where backpackers and English teachers made up a large number of the modeling gigs even a half-decade ago, about 70 international fashions at the moment are contracted to local companies. The foreigners usher in about one-tenth of the estimated $14.6 million the local trade makes a yr, based on Johnny Zheng, the director of Esee Mannequin Administration, one in all Shanghai’s largest agencies.