By Edward Baran

REUTERS, January 30, 2018 Wearing haute couture and strutting down the catwalks of Paris Fashion Week – that’s the dream for many aspiring young models from eastern Europe working in China.

But for many, including 17-year-old Russian Polina Zubritskaya, the bright lights of the French capital remain an elusive goal . . . so she’s toiling it out on the Chinese catwalks instead.

Polina Zubritskaya says: “A day of work can be one hour and it can be 12 hours or more. There is no time for anything else. Yes, I think that is hard.”

A 14-year-old Russian model died during Shanghai Fashion Week in October, sparking a debate about working conditions, even though her agency denied she was overworked.

The work can also be lucrative though – a few fashion labels surveyed said they pay models about $180 for an hour. Models who get work visas in China can gain portfolio photos and some financial stability

And the hope that one day they’ll gain the experience to reach the European market.