Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Zhang Ziyi vs. Lucy Liu

With the Beijing Olympics upon us in a matter of weeks, there was bound to be additional coverage, as was the case for the August issues of Vogue and Harper's Bazaar.

In terms of coverage, who wins? On this side of the ring, Zhang Ziyi 章子怡 had a glowing article about her rise to stardom, starting with her humble beginnings to her now international fame and new engagement to international tycoon and venture capitalist Aviv "Vivi" Nevo. Her photo shoot wasn't too bad, although the styles they paired her with were rather harsh, mostly in terms of the make-up and hair (feels like they were trying to claim the '80s?). I don't have scans of the pics, but you can see her video below as she talks about the photo shoot. And of course, she was featured in Vogue, the mother of all fashion mags. However, other than the fact that she is Beijing-born, nothing in the article or photos link her at all to the Olympics (ok, she was one of the Olympic torchbearers, but that was hardly emphasized).

On the other side of the ring, Lucy Liu had a more Olympic-inspired photo shoot, which was fairly creative, and her pictorial spread was much larger. However, there was not a word about her, not even a blurb on anything she was potentially promoting, so it looked like they borrowed her to model for the mere fact that she is Chinese-American (and thus, she's really Team USA). Her photos were in Harper's Bazaar, which as of late has been more inspiring for me to pick through than Vogue has been, so it's not THE best, but pretty up there in my mind.

So who wins? I say.....NEITHER! Assuming that the fashion world is embracing all things from China, and the Beijing Olympics being such a platform (note that a lot of design houses even created special, limited-edition pieces for the Asian market BECAUSE of the Olympics), I find it terribly defeating that neither could make the covers.

For Vogue, Kate Moss was on the cover, which makes sense seeing that she is 1) a supermodel, and 2) promoting her fashion empire, but her photos weren't even that great (see article and photos here). They could've put her on the cover of the September issue, since that's when the new Topshop will debut in the US (she being one of the coveted lines in the brand, it would have made sense in that case). Zhang Ziyi could easily have been on the cover, and no one would have thought it strange. She's been seen on the red carpet very frequently, wearing all the new designers, so she is already known for embracing fashion. I would have loved to see a beautiful spread of her in China, w/ maybe the Olympic stadiums or ye ole' temples or modern skyscrapers in the backdrop. How lush would it have been to see her in gorgeous gowns and showing the beauty of Beijing behind her? I don't particularly think that Ziyi is a great actress either, but she is def. on the A-list, and Americans do recognize that she is a "star," so why not the cover?

For Harper's Bazaar, there was a boring article about Jessica Biel (who has never done anything great except a GQ cover and dating Justin Timberlake, IMHO), and some lame photos of her "dancing" with designers like Vera Wang and Zac Posen. The photo qualities were mediocre, and if you were to compare her to Lucy Liu, she didn't have anything in particular to promote either, so how'd she make the cover? Lucy had some cool photos, and while they weren't shot in Beijing, they were cute in trying to blend fashion with athleticism. I don't know if Lucy is still big enough to land a cover, but isn't it a little sad if she was only able to land the photo shoot 'cause she was Chinese-American, and for no other reason? Like, some editor in some glossy magazine cubicle sat there and said, "Beijing Olympics are coming up, we need to put a Chinese person in this shoot, quick, how many well-known Chinese actresses are there that we can land for this? They don't even need to be promoting anything, or talk, 'cause we're not going to bother interviewing them. Just make sure they're Chinese."

Anyhow, maybe I should be happy any Asians get their own coverage, but it pains me that no Asian one can land the cover yet. One would have thought that this time, this would have been a great opportunity to do more than just the norms. Do you have any thoughts?

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