The Rising East

by Aric Chen


The latest export from the world’s next superpower? Well-traveled young ladies with international ambitions out to prove that in China, “The Party” has a whole new meaning.


Age: 23 Provenance: Studied fashion at the London College of Fashion and at Beijing’s Tsinghua University. Known as: One to watch—young and unassuming but intensely driven. Multitasking as: Fashion stylist, filmmaker, blogger, journalist, muse, and “body jewelry” designer. Clients include the Chinese editions of Vogue, GQ, and Harper’s Bazaar, as well as Chinese celebrities and VIPs. Recently spotted: Boogying with artist Terence Koh and designer Olivier Theyskens. Not-so-dirty secret: Neither smokes nor drinks. Role model: “Miuccia Prada is one of the greatest women I’ve ever met.” Why the “Mega”? “I love big, extraordinary things.”


Age: 28 Provenance: Studied at Central Saint Martins; presented her graduation show during London Fashion Week (far left). Known as: Promoter of emerging Chinese fashion designers. Shuttles between: Beijing, Shanghai, London, and Paris. Recently spotted: Partying with Rick Owens; hanging out with Tamara Mellon and Neville Brody; as a “new talent” in Vogue Italia. Sister act: Worked on an art project with fellow It girl Yi Zhou for the department store Lane Crawford in Beijing. On her background: “Now is a good time to be a Chinese designer. You’re part of history.”


Age: 32 Provenance: Born in Shanghai, raised in Rome, educated at the London School of Economics and the American University of Paris. Known as: Multimedia/video artist and all-around glamour-puss. Big-name collaborators: Made a video with Mugler’s Nicola Formichetti; other Zhou works have featured Pharrell Williams and Charlotte Gainsbourg. New BFF: Young aristocrat and Fiat heiress Anna de Pahlen. Says Zhou: “She’s a tough girl who loves singing and hip-hop—and I share those passions with her.”


Age: 29 Provenance: Graduated from Harvard in 2004. Her father, Hong Kong business tycoon Dickson Poon, owns Harvey Nichols; her mother, Marjorie Yang, is on Hong Kong’s Executive Council; her godmother is actress Michelle Yeoh. Day job: Runs a family-owned shirt brand called Pye. Extracurricular activities: Involved with MoMA and Asia Art Archive; directed An Exercise in Futility, a 42-second film shown at Cannes. Recently seen: In Chinese Vogue seductively posing with Tom Ford. Saucy rumor: U.S. Vogue pegged her as a bride choice for Nicolas Sarkozy in the pre–Carla Bruni days, even though Poon had never met him.


Age: 28 Provenance: Studied at Sarah Lawrence College and in Paris; her grandfather Wan Li was a vice premier of China. Known as: Socialite and party girl–turned–jewelry designer; launched a line called Bao Bao Wan Fine Jewelry (which includes 18-karat white gold earrings, above). In 2003 she became one of the first Chinese women to debut at the famous Bal des Débutantes in Paris. Edgy cred: Was shot by bad-boy photographer Terry Richardson. (“But I covered myself—no nipple.”) Recently spotted: At the Viktor & Rolf and Lanvin men’s shows in Paris. Deep thoughts: “My life has been about finding a balance between the fashion world and my communist family.”


Age: 32 Provenance: Her grandfather Marshal Ye Jianying was one of Chairman Mao’s generals and later helped propel Deng Xiaoping to power. Deng ushered in China’s new era; Ye attended Central Saint Martins. Known as: The Nina Garcia of China; she’s a judge on Creative Sky, China’s version of Project Runway. Day job: Designs Studio Regal, a bridal- and evening-wear collection. Royal wedding: In 2009, she married at the Forbidden City in what Chinese Vogue dubbed the “wedding of the century.” Power prognosis: Off the charts: Ye’s family is reportedly close to Xi Jinping, who’s expected to become China’s next president.