This Vogue cover (below) is one of my favorites. It was for our “China” issue - so I wanted to emphasize certain themes that symbolically represent Chinese culture. For example, I chose red as the primary color for it’s association with historic China. And for props, I selected paper umbrellas (red, of course) that are instantly identified as a Chinese icon. I sketched out this idea for the cover and discussed it with contributing photographer Chen Man. She liked it as well; this final shot is almost exactly the same as what my sketch envisioned. I love the little details we put in - her hair has a ‘wet look’, to go with the thematic idea of umbrellas and rain.
For this shoot with photographer Ben Weller, we really wanted to convey the fashion theme of ‘color blocking’. I worked with stylist Cheryl Leung to decide on the colors we wanted for the clothes, and based on that, I built a set using giant, colored wooden boards and cubes, using color tones that would compliment the clothing.
This next shoot featured expensive couture fashion, so I wanted to convey a romantic warmth. I took Rothko and his color fields as the main reference. Photographer Trunk Xu was able to evoke these Rothko-esque moods with his smart use of color gels.
Louis Vuitton lent us their $8 million vintage train to use as a prop for an LV-themed shoot. I worked with photographer Stockton Johnson to come up with period-accurate vintage props such as old birdcages and trolleys, and set about developing the narrative of a group of friends aboard the Orient Express. (Fun fact: birds in birdcages do not respond well to art direction.) We only had three hours to shoot this entire story, but our end result was successful because everybody on the team knew exactly what their roles would be - due to careful planning.
Photographer Zack Zhang and I were tasked with doing a shoot in a large exhibition space designed by Dior mastermind Alexandre de Betak. Alex had designed an elaborate space for our Vogue China 10th anniversary exhibition, showcasing hundreds of archive images and videos from Vogue throughout the years. For our shoot, we wanted to integrate his visuals into our shoot while still making it our own, so we decided to focus on using video backgrounds as an artistic backdrop for our model. We timed our shots with the background video - tight shots of model faces and fluorescent lights - to turn the location into an abstract fantasy setting.
This was another collaboration between me and photographer Zack Zhang. The fashion theme was bold color patterns, so we constructed a set using graphic shapes that I designed. Stylist Candy Lee and I then chose the best clothes to put over these backdrops. In some cases, we matched the colors and shapes; for others, we chose contrasting ones.
Vogue China did a special issue on the city of Chengdu recently. Chengdu is a central Chinese city that’s been experiencing an economic and creative boom in the last couple of years, and we focused on that with a shoot in Chengdu that takes the things that it’s known for: spicy “Sichuan” noodles and chili peppers, tea houses, historic architecture, and Sichuan masked opera theatre - and integrated them into our story visuals.
Each shot in this narrative features something that is uniquely Chengdu. That last shot with the masked opera actor? The theatre company gave us one minute (literally) to shoot that before the actors had to go on stage. Photographer Yin Chao managed three quick snaps, and luckily one of them worked!