From PEOPLE Magazine Click to enlarge
AS A YOUNG VIETNAMESE GIRL growing up in the heart of New York City, Navia Nguyen often felt like a stranger in; a strange land. Today the 5'8", 110-lb daughter of an electronics-shop owner has found a home at last—in the international world of fashion. "When I first started working two years ago, there wasn't much interest in Asian models," says the Saigon-born 22-year-old. "But now it's a new frontier." Whether on U.S. runways or the European catwalks of Lagerfeld and Chanel, "Navia has no boundaries," says designer Joan Yass. "It's a global world. And she's a global beauty." Navia's face, says fashion photographer Peter Lindbergh, "is all about her child-woman attitude. I love the way those very special eyes look at you." Those looks need no interpretation. "Whenever I'm in a bad mood, it shows in my eyes," she says. "Or if I'm thinking evil thoughts, you can see it. And you can tell if I'm happy, if I'm having a bad day or if I feel miserable." To preserve her spirits, she goes in for aromatherapy and meditation. She also washes her face with her dermatologist's no-name cleanser and has a friend cut her shiny, jet-black hair. By and large, Navia's pleased with the results. "If God came down and was, like, 'Do you want to change anything?' " she muses, "I'd want to never age. And stay this weight forever."