On Vacation with Model-turned-Actress Tao Okamoto

It’s summer! And that means on Fridays, everyone should be sneaking out of work a little bit early to go on a weekend jaunt or grab a drink on a sunny rooftop. The fashion industry, which works very hard, also knows a thing or two about how to cut loose. In our weekly Summer Friday column, we catch up with industry insiders to find out what they do, where they go, and what they bring with them when they escape the daily grind. We started our series this season with Rachel Zoe, stylist, editor, and designer extraordinaire, and went on vacation with everyone from the Shipley & Halmos guys to celebrity colorist Rita Hazan. This week, we travel with supermodel and now actress Tao Okamoto.
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It’s summer! And that means on Fridays, everyone should be sneaking out of work a little bit early to go on a weekend jaunt or grab a drink on a sunny rooftop. The fashion industry, which works very hard, also knows a thing or two about how to cut loose. In our weekly Summer Friday column, we catch up with industry insiders to find out what they do, where they go, and what they bring with them when they escape the daily grind. We started our series this season with Rachel Zoe, stylist, editor, and designer extraordinaire, and went on vacation with everyone from the Shipley & Halmos guys to celebrity colorist Rita Hazan. This week, we travel with supermodel and now actress Tao Okamoto.
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It’s summer! And that means on Fridays, everyone should be sneaking out of work a little bit early to go on a weekend jaunt or grab a drink on a sunny rooftop. The fashion industry, which works very hard, also knows a thing or two about how to cut loose. In our weekly Summer Friday column, we catch up with industry insiders to find out what they do, where they go, and what they bring with them when they escape the daily grind. We started our series this season with Rachel Zoe, stylist, editor, and designer extraordinaire, and went on vacation with everyone from the Shipley & Halmos guys to celebrity colorist Rita Hazan. This week, we travel with supermodel and now actress Tao Okamoto.

When Tao Okamoto hit the runways of Paris in 2006, little did she know that she would become a trailblazer for East Asian models in fashion. From the catwalks of Yves Saint Laurent, Dolce & Gabbana, Fendi, Louis Vuitton, and Alexander Wang, the Japanese beauty instantly became a star. But it wasn't until she fronted a Ralph Lauren campaign that she became solidified as a bold new face within the industry and a bona fide top model. So inspirational was her look--a bowl cut hairdo--that Phillip Lim made all of his models take after the hairstyle in his FW 2009 show.

Now Okamoto is pursuing a new frontier: acting. The 28-year old is starring alongside Hugh Jackman as his love interest, Mariko Yashida, in The Wolverine (which comes out today). When she's not being shot by Mario Testino, fronting magazines like Vogue Nippon, or gracing the pages of I-D, Okamoto is traveling the world, wearing baggy jeans, and sharing beautiful memories along the way. Read on for her adorable travel stories.

How do you pack for vacation? I bring only easy summery dresses or baggy jeans and some pairs of sandals. I like editing my vacation movies on iMovie so I will bring my tiny Sony Handycam video camera.

Is it okay to look like a tourist on vacation? Not really, but some places you can't help it. Unfortunately, sometimes local people cheat tourists or pick our pockets. I try to look like I'm confident even if I don't know where to go. That's something I learned from living in many different countries.

What is the most daring thing you've done while abroad? I was traveling in Japan with my friend and he was talking about this guy who he used to hang out with a lot when they were younger. My friend was desperate to see him again but he didn't know his contact or where he lived. We were sitting down in a little restaurant in the middle of nowhere, talking about this guy, and the next moment, he showed up with his wife and a newborn baby. We couldn't believe it! We spent the rest of our travels together with the family!



What is the worst thing that's ever happened to you on vacation? When I was little, I went skiing. I was a very competitive girl so I wanted to go faster than any other kids. I was so far ahead and suddenly realized there was nobody behind me and I was totally off of the course. I was lost for half of the day and I thought I was going to die on a big snow mountain. Luckily, I was found by a rescue guy, and clearly am still alive.

What's the one vacation moment that you'll never forget? My parents both have their birthdays in August so it’s always during summer vacation. One time we were visiting Los Angeles and I bought a big circle serving tray because I remembered my mom said she wanted a new one. But it wasn't something she was looking for and she found it before I wrapped it as a gift and she yelled at me: "Why did you buy such a big thing? How are we bringing this back to Japan?" Yeah, it wouldn't fit in our suitcase. But I cried like crazy and my dad explained to her and she cried and apologized to me. We both hurt so much, it was a sad memory but I like remembering that moment, makes me feel nostalgic.

Who is the one person you always travel with? My girlfriend from high school. We used to live together, and traveling with her takes us back to that time.



What's your favorite purchase while on vaca? A beautiful traditional patterned skirt from Yao People when I was traveling in China.



What's the sexiest thing about summer? Shiny, sweaty skin.

What's your new song of the summer? I hear the new Daft Punk album everywhere! “Get Lucky.”



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What are your packing essentials? Strong Sunblock, big straw hat, pretty lace parasol, Vitamin C for skin, and whitening cream. I don't want to get tanned.