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September 25, 2011

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Spreading Chinese fashion to the world

ANGELICA Cheung is a strong woman. Wearing a black dress, a bright necklace and an extravagant haircut, she looks like a very capable and sophisticated person, if not tough.

And that's what she is. Cheung is often referred to as "China's Anna Wintour."

Cheung is editor-in-chief of one of China's most popular fashion magazines, Vogue China, the second-biggest Vogue edition in the world. Her mission, she says, is to spread the Chinese sense of fashion, and bring talented models and designers to the international stage.

Fashion is always a hard business, but with an exploding market in China, Cheung sees great potential and can talk about it at length. She has been a famous person in this industry for years. Originally graduating from Peking University in 1990, Cheung has previously worked as the editorial director of the Chinese edition of ELLE and the editor-in-chief of Marie Claire Hong Kong. She cut her teeth as a journalist working at several English language newspapers in Hong Kong.

Nowadays she is considered a key trend-setter in the luxury industry's most promising market. Vogue China, the so-called fashion bible, is already celebrating its sixth anniversary this month.

In an Interview with Shanghai Daily she speaks about the development of the Chinese fashion market, her admiration of Karl Lagerfeld and this year's Fashion Night Out in Shanghai.

Q: How does it feel being editor-in-chief for a popular fashion magazine?

A: You know, it's great! I remember the early days, when I was talking to Condé Nast about that, they told me "All old-fashioned editors had one dream, to edit Vogue magazine." And this had an effect on me. After being years in the fashion business, I can tell that Vogue is the ultimate platform. It has been around for more than 100 years, always a leading magazine in fashion. And it's great to be in a position where you can do something for the industry. Your influence goes beyond the magazine.

Q: There was a time, when some negative voices questioned your work and capability; did you feel a lot of pressure from that?

A: Negative voices questioned my work? No, there was media success from day one.

Q: Alright, and what do you think of this year's Fashion's Night Out in China?

A: It's the first time in Shanghai. Elsewhere in the world the nature of Fashion's Nights Out is to help the luxury business. To really encourage consumption. And to try to get more people into the shops. We also try to teach the customers about fashion. Vogue China wants to help people to become educated shoppers, not just shoppers. Because we already have a lot of shoppers.

Q: What do you think of China's presence on the world fashion stage? What do you think of the increasing popularity of Chinese models on international catwalks?

A: Vogue has been around in China for six years now. And during these six years we witnessed changes equivalent to maybe 50 or 60 years in the West. We are fast and we are huge. In one year you can see even different generations. Everything is becoming more sophisticated. And I am so happy with the Chinese models; how they are doing overseas. When we started, there was no Chinese model on the international catwalks and in this season in New York you see a lot of them.

Q: It's usually not easy to work with supermodels and celebrated designers, so how do you handle that?

A: Oh, I could talk about that for hours (laughs). When you are working with top models, top photographers, top designers, everybody is top, it's quite ambivalent. On the one hand it's great, because everybody is so creative and professional. On the other hand it's hard, because everybody has their own point of view and ideas. Sometimes it happens that a photographer is very pleased about the style of a model, but I could tell him: You made her look like a grandmother.

Q: What does fashion mean to you?

A: Fashion for me is making a person feel good about oneself. In our society people can have a good life and that includes how you dress. Fashion is about knowing yourself, knowing your own style and what is going on in the world. It's also a way of expressing yourself. To tell people who you are and how you feel at the moment.

Q: What do you think about the influence fashion magazines have on young Chinese people? Is there too much luxury in them, which might leave a negative impact on today's young people?

A: All the magazines just reflect what is available in the world. We do not create all these expensive shoes and jewelry. If nobody would wear these things and nobody would make these things, there would be nothing to report about. In addition, luxury is a relative term. It might be too much luxury to some people, it might not be enough to others. I think it's great that people work hard, make money, want to treat themselves better, have a better life. I can't see anything wrong with that. But I personally don't wear the most expensive things every time (laughs).

Q: Do you have a favorite fashion designer?

A: I admire them all. I always admire them. I admire Karl Lagerfeld because he has been in the business for decades and is still the best up there. It's amazing how he is doing all these different brands and collections. And also Alber Elbaz, his fashion is always so beautiful. And I admire Mrs Prada for her vision of a modern-day women.

Q: In the end, what's your motto for your life?

A: (laughs) Oh, I hate this question. I don't really have one. Maybe just stay positive!


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