This is not the first time that an Asian appearance happened to be at the peak of popularity. In the 1950s, wide cheekbones and narrow eyes with cat eyeliner drove both men and women crazy. Alla Ilchun, who was half-Russian, half-Kazakh became the trendsetter for Asian appearance. She was Christian Dior’s muse and his happy talisman, but she was also lucky that the famous couturier made her his fashion model.

At Enlighten, we decided to find out what is known about this mysterious and once incredibly popular woman who had such an unusual life.

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Alla Ilchun worked as a kitchen maid, and it was probable that she could’ve ended up as a waitress or a cook in a French restaurant. By some stroke of luck, she went to Christian Dior’s casting and became his leading model. Though her origin remained a secret during her lifetime and even afterward, coming to light only recently. People of her time thought that this Asian beauty was originally from China, and even in Christian Dior’s memoirs, she was called a Chinese or a Manchurian fashion model.

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It was true that Ilchun and her mother arrived in France from the Chinese city of Harbin. They fled after the October Revolution. They had Chinese citizenship but Alla’s mother was Russian and belonged to a noble family that had lost all their money. Her father was the son of a Kazakh Bai. This means that Alla was actually half-Russian and half-Kazakh. In Europe nobody knew about this, and she didn’t even discover her origin until 2 years before her death.