Tag Archives: China

Celine's new face: Faye Wong noted in The Washington Post

The Post recently noted Chinese pop diva’s highly anticipated comeback. The article even explained to its readers Wong’s effect on her fans – often self-dubbed Fayenatics – and a few career highlights:

She generates passion bordering on hysteria among fans and manic screaming at her concerts and public appearances.

The excitement doesn’t just stop at the comeback Beijing and Shanghai concerts slated for October and November. Wong’s collaboration with LVMH-owned label Celine back in 2005 seems to have been resuscitated. She was recently in Paris shooting looks for the pre-fall and fall collections. Even a paper as influential as The Washington Post is pointing out to readers that Faye Wong is indeed a big deal in China.


Faye Wong in Paris shooting for Celine

Though ELLE HK announced via its official website in Chinese that Chinese pop diva Faye Wong has been secretly flown to Paris to shoot Celine’s print ad campaign, it is unclear whether “advertisement spokesperson”, the term used by ELLE HK, refers to being the new face of Celine worldwide, or merely an ‘ambassador’ who models the clothes in a few shoots widely printed by different magazines in Asia (she was dubbed a “friend of the brand” back in 2005).

It is likely that Wong will end up headlining Celine’s print ads in Asia, but her last gig in 2005 with the LVHM-owned label spawned a much publicized appearance at Celine’s fashion show during Paris fashion week and two spreads both shot in Paris (one of Michael Kors’ final collection for Celine and the subsequent modernist spring one by Roberto Menichetti). Thus, it’s safe to say that the sneak peek photos recently released by both ELLE HK and other sources on Chinese websites will at least be promo shots, if not full fledged print ad campaigns. The entire shoot may or may not appear in the September issue of Chinese ELLE, of which Wong is slated to be the cover girl of (ELLE HK was the winning bidder for Wong’s September cover status; the pop star and the magazine have a long history of collaborations).

In the meantime, why not travel back in time – back to 2005 – for a look at Faye Wong’s first collaboration with Celine.

Faye Wong: the new face of Celine Fall 2010

The news has been released! Chinese pop diva Faye Wong 王菲 has been in Paris shooting the latest ad campaign for Phoebe Philo’s comeback collection for Celine. This means the ads will be two comebacks in one: Philo’s return to the forefront of women’s ready-to-wear as Celine’s creative director and the end to Faye Wong’s longtime break from the entertainment industry.

Nonetheless, Wong is no stranger to the label. In 2005, Wong was the spokesperson for Celine, modeling Michael Kors’ final collection for the house (fall 2004 – remember those Jackie O. suits? The fur mufflers?) as well as the subsequent modernist collection by Roberto Menichetti, who enjoyed a shortlived career as the creative head of the company.

ELLE HK announced the news of Wong’s Parisian escapade with Celine, with her favorites makeup artist Zing and stylist/costume designer Titi Kwan in two. The print ads are being shot by Horst Diekgerdes.

Wong’s comeback concerts in Beijing and Shanghai slated for October and November, respectively, were sold out in ten minutes. Perhaps Celine’s owners, LVHM, are hoping for the same effect for the collection.

Ermenegildo Zegna fetes in Shanghai

Italian luxury menswear house Ermenegildo Zegna threw a lavish party in Shanghai this past week partially in celebration of its brand new Huaihai Road concept store in Shanghai, partially in celebration of its centennial. The now fourth generation-run Zegna is no newcomer to the luxury brand scene in China. The company opened its first Chinese location in Beijing back in 1991. The new Shanghai location, designed by famed architect Peter Marino, is the fifth of Zegna’s line of concept stores worldwide.

The festivities included a fashion show of its fall collection (a longstanding promotional tradition on the part of European fashion houses; some companies even completely replicate their Paris/Milan shows in Taipei/HK). Among those attending were notable Chinese model Du Juan (who has walked for nearly all the major houses), Leon Lai (one of the four widely respected HK-based “Four Heavenly Kings” of pop music and films), Alec Su (Taiwanese actor of former 1990s boyband fame), and others.

Apparently 80% of wealthy male Chinese consumers making luxury purchases fall within the age bracket of 18 to 44. Looks like Zegna’s centennial comes right in time for a potential market spike. As China produces more and more stylish men, Zegna surely welcomes this trend.

Louis Vuitton menswear: the gentleman from Shanghai

A week ago Louis Vuitton presented it’s Spring 2011 menswear collection by head of menswear Paul Helbers. In this collection of quasi-safari inspired urban chicness, China made its mark yet again as a source of inspiration for fashion designers. The concluding looks from the runway featured Chinese style dragon emblazoned jackets, dress shoes, leather and canvas men’s LV Speedy bags, and printed shirts. A notable reinterpretation of the Chinese gentlemen’s quilted jacket was look #51, the dark embroidered blazer with the lustrous, seductive sheen. This collection took after Chanel’s hit interpretation of body art, stenciling Chinese dragons and signature Louis Vuitton monogram on the limbs and chests of the skinny models walking the runway.

These sino-inspired touches are a nice salute to the increase of worldwide awareness of Chinese cultural and political-economic importance. Both Helbers and Marc Jacobs talked to the Associated Press about the influences apparent in the collection and importance of China. Helbers contributed the influence partly to “the sartorial style of high-rollers at Shanghai casinos.” As Jing Daily correctly points out, today there are no casinos functioning legally in Shanghai. Perhaps Helbers was speaking of pre-WWII era high-rollers, back when Shanghai first became the gem of the East.

As for the business-oriented perspective on creating Chinese-influenced fashion, Jacobs was quoted saying,

“China is obviously a great market and everyone talks about the modernity and the interest of it … but I think probably the least appealing thing to the Chinese market is any kind of Asian reference,” Jacobs said in a backstage interview. “It wasn’t about appealing from a business point of view.”

Jacobs makes a great point. Asian motifs and such in fashion and other material objects mainly appeals to those from Western cultures. For example, it’s clearly cool to David Beckham to have a Chinese proverb tattooed on his body in highly stylized Chinese calligraphy, but the same tattoo would garner a different response from Chinese people when it’s on a Chinese individual.

However, it’s hard to say that the Chinese influences in this collection were purely aesthetic. The use of Chinese references in luxury products is a smart way to target Western consumers fascinated with China while also recognizing the distinct style and history of the Chinese people, a sure way to garner respect from elite China and establish repute and solidify the market for Louis Vuitton in China. In other words, sell the exotic Asian-inspired designs to the West while selling your appreciation of China to the Chinese. It’s a win-win situation for Louis Vuitton. When the pieces from this collection hits stores worldwide, we’ll see the effect.

View the entire collection at Style.com.

She loved China, but never went.

Stylish Misshapes DJ and recent Chanel Ambassador Leigh Lezark recently wrote in the May issue of American Vogue (see “Dispatch Paris”, page 122) of her tour of Coco Chanel’s private quarters at 31 Rue Cambon.

“The highlight was a tour of Coco Chanel’s apartment at 31 Rue Cambon. Instead of the streamlined black-and-white interior you would expect, it was full of color and life, with a huge assortment of items she’d collected from her travels through Asia.”

(Coco Chanel’s aparment)

In either Rodolphe Marconi’s documentary Lagerfeld Confidential, the 1986 documentary Chanel Chanel or his interview for the house’s Paris-Shanghai fashion show (I can’t remember which one it was!), Karl Lagerfeld spoke of Coco Chanel’s fascination with Chinese art and culture – chinoiserie, this sino-influence came to be called – despite never having traveled to Asia.

The things in Mademoiselle Chanel’s apartment possessed all kinds of inspiration for not only her designs but also those of Lagerfeld. Chanel herself filled her upstairs apartment at the house’s legendary address with Chinese lacquered screens and various choses chinoises. The lusciously dark screens were covered with Chinese motifs, scenery, or writing. Next to her plush suede furniture and glistening chandeliers, these points of Chinese inspiration produced a grandeur suitable for a grande dame like Chanel.

Chinoiserie originated in Europe around the time of the establishment of the Machu-ruled Qing dynasty, around the mid-17th century. European artists and decorations paired Chinese art and motifs with ornate rococo designs. Today one would probably file chinoiserie until the category of “China’s Soft Power”, as a part of the Chinese government’s initiative to influence the rest of the world through cultural and other initiatives. Jing Daily pointed out in their article that some Chinese consultants are concerned that the country isn’t projecting its cultural history and legacy strongly enough, that economic interests rather than cultural are overshadowing the distribution of Chinese cultural products.

(Chinoiserie textile)

It seems like over three centuries ago – when China’s imperial court was much less eager to make contact with the “barbarians” outside the Middle Kingdom – the interest Europeans had in China peaked when the Chinese kept their culture a mystery. Today, perhaps due to the Internet and China’s catch-up campaigns, there’s isn’t much specific desire for Chinese cultural products (unless it’s the acquisition of the language itself, but mostly for business purposes).

Is China too welcoming for foreigners to understand her culture and learn her language(s)? Is mystique what’s missing in China’s project of its “soft power”? “Play to People’s Fantasies” is Law 32 of Robert Greene’s 48 Laws of Power. Are our economic and entrepreneurial fantasies of China too practical, too money-driven to be fantasies?

(Shanghai at night)

The Many Faces of Fan Bingbing

The latest Chinese actress to take both Paris and Milan fashion weeks and Cannes by storm. Not only did Fan sit front row at the last Louis Vuitton show, she sat next to Yves Carcelle, two seats away from Bernard Arnault himself. She was styled as Che Guevara, Bruce Lee, Superman, and Elvis Presley for the latest issue of Esquire China (which, in China, is titled Shishang Xiansheng, or “Mr. Fashion”). Even Style.com’s blog briefly profiled her last month. Back in March, even the Chinese Communist Party’s official newspaper featured a piece on her “high profile” visit to Paris (the writer also points out that Fan turned down the Paris show for Taiwanese couture label Shiatzy Chen). Fan is definitely a figure to watch out for in both fashion and film. Unlike Zhou Xun (who briefly did some Miu Miu ads a few years ago), Fan may earn some longevity on the international stage.