People Staff
May 06, 1996 12:00 PM

MOZART IN DOC MARTENS, Paganini in hot pants—however you describe 17-year-old violin prodigy Vanessa-Mae Nicholson, one thing’s certain: She’s a classical gas. The daughter of a Thai mother and a Chinese father recorded the first of three albums of Mozart, Tchaikovsky and Beethoven at age 10. By age 13, though, London-reared Vanessa-Mae had an electric fiddle, a really cool hairstyle and a whole new musical bag. In the video of her synthesized version of a Bach piece, Vanessa grooves in a wet T-shirt. The moves helped her first pop album, The Violin Player, hit Britain’s Top 20 charts. Another CD—and more videos—are in the works. “I want to do for the violin what Jimi Hendrix did for the guitar,” she says. But until adolescence worked its hormonal magic, Vanessa-Mae didn’t have much to do “it” with. “I was really androgynous,” she says. “In restaurants they would ask, ‘What would you like, young man?’ ” Marvels her friend Vasko Vassilev, concertmaster of the Royal Opera House Orchestra: “I teased her when she had braces, but now she’s so perfect.” Blessed with smooth skin and pouty lips that Hollywood’s collagen contessas would kill for, Vanessa is still too young to need a beauty plan, though she does follow her mother’s advice: Keep your hair off your face. “If looks sold an album,” she says, “all the supermodels would have No. 1 hits.”

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