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October 23, 2021

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Divergent public views of famous sisters

When Meng Wanzhou stepped out of a charter plane at the Shenzhen Bao’an International Airport on September 25 after her nearly three-year house arrest in Canada, her red wraparound dress with a flower-shape drape design in the waist by Carolina Herrera also caught the fashion world’s attention.

As a matter of fact, the 49-year-old Huawei chief financial officer and elder daughter of the company’s founder Ren Zhengfei has emerged as a fashion icon in almost every court appearance she’s made under the spotlight over the past three years.

She always dressed with elegance in a set of fashion-conscious styles, fully in line with her image of a successful, independent woman. The outfits were often simple and clean cut in design. Each time she walked out of the house in Vancouver, she held her head high with confidence.

Roland Mouret might be dominating Meng’s wardrobe. The French designer brand, known as “master of the silhouette,” is very good at doing drapery and structure, which brings out the best female form.

One of the most acclaimed ensembles Meng wore was a blue dress by Roland Mouret that combined structure and sensuality with sharp lines, and its figure-hugging shape added subtle feminine touches. The dress’s iconic just-below-the-knee-length pencil shape hugged every curve, while imparting elegance, formality and sophistication.

She is definitely a big fan of the brand, because she zipped herself into Roland Mouret’s dresses in red, purple and black in several public appearances.

The texture and quality of garments were what Meng focused on most. One look featuring a Max Mara tobacco-colored cashmere overcoat, and another featuring a black Chanel overcoat, were compared to similar court outfits worn by former United States first lady Jacqueline Kennedy when she sued a paparazzo.

Each time she wore an overcoat, Meng carefully chose jewelry brooches in the shape of fireworks, clover, ears of wheat, bows and diamond buttons to match different styles, making the heavy winter outfit fun and vivacious.

She turned into a direct, no-nonsense, modern woman when she appeared in a striped shirt tucked into khaki suit pants, while the sweater, often in low color saturation, tied about her as a shawl, conveyed freedom and casualness.

Sometimes Meng walked out in all black from top to bottom, but a big silk scarf from Hermes in bright bold colors and complicated patterns wrapped around her cleverly dissolved the dullness and conservative nature of all black.

Not only a capable and resolute businesswoman, Meng also tried some girly short skirts above the knees, which most women her age would no longer wear. She once put up Thom Browne’s preppy-style wool cardigan and pleated cotton miniskirt, oozing an aura of energy and good taste.

In her last appearance in Canada before returning to China, Meng walked out in Celine’s polka-dot midi dress with a breezy shift silhouette and figure-flattering tie waistline, which showed her lightheartedness.

While Meng was winning respect and admiration for her bravery and strong will in Canada, her younger half-sister Annabel Yao was receiving cat calls in China, while the 23-year-old made her foray into showbiz.

Yao, nicknamed “Huawei’s little princess,” released a music video for her new song “Xin” last week, but she’s once again facing criticism from netizens.

The negative comments have flooded the Internet. “With her poker face from the song’s first second till the end, she must be a robot secretly developed by Huawei,” writes one Weibo user under the post, with more than 2,000 people upvoting the comment.

“Can’t sing. Can’t dance. Not as pretty as other girls in the entertainment circle. Why is she so crazy about becoming a star?” another asks.

Apparently, the “little princess” is a pole apart from her older sister in many ways. At the very least, they greatly differ in their senses of fashion.

When Yao made her official debut in January announcing she would be a showbiz artist, her agency TH Entertainment promoted her as a “breaker” in the release of her debut single “Back Fire.”

A “princess who breaks rules,” Yao wore long, lacy dresses, appeared on various fashion magazine covers in a short period of time, and walked on the red carpets of high-end fashion award ceremonies in gorgeous evening gowns.

People still didn’t buy it. They continue to boo her, and the hissing criticism was even more intense when she announced she would join the hit celebrity reality television show “Chinese restaurant” in April.

However, she suddenly transformed herself from a princess to a tomboy on the show. Having her hair cut short, Yao always appeared in loose T-shirts, baggy pants, heavy leather boots, canvas sports cross-body bags, and even a tie to make the whole outlook genderless — in either all white or black.

She got rid of those delicate feminine accessories, and started to wear hippie-chic thick chains and athletic headbands.

The fashion brands also changed from European luxury maisons to street fashion or independent startup designer brands, such as Factory Found, RE’VAN, Masha Ma and bosie, all with pioneering designs for young generations looking for free self-expression.

Obviously, this unusual U-turn in Yao’s fashion style is her team’s new water test, which could gain people’s favor more easily because it’s closer to the public in the image of a spontaneous, cool girl.

Is it working? It’s not clear yet. But she did show her sincerity, manners and good upbringing on the show, which has changed some of people’s negative opinions.

Feeling wronged, she once asked a question to the public” “Why does everybody love my sister, not me?”

The answer is probably clear. People like Meng because she has shown her strength and resilience in an illegal detainment. People don’t like Yao because they believe the princess can easily get what she wants at the snap of a finger in the castle, which is unfair to everyone who is struggling hard in the real world.


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