Shape Shifter - March 2017

Danskin leggings; Azzedine Alaia belt from Albright Fashion Library, New York. Beauty note: Bend time with ReVive Rescue Elixir AntiAging Oil.

Photographs by Steven Meisel, Styled by Edward Enninful

Zhengyang Zhang is one of those models whose entire look is so strong it almost makes you almost miss the clothes he's wearing. The photographer Steven Meisel saw this too, and pulled him out of the crowd at an Anna Sui casting last year. He's since walked every Anna Sui show since, as well as John Varvatos, Phillip Plein and Linder at New York Fashion Week Fall 2017—all very different aesthetics that demonstrate his range. Taken together, he's walked nine shows so far this season, including Balmain and Versace during the Paris men's collections.

Originally from Beijing, China, the 22-year-old stands out from the rest not only for his stunning androgynous looks—he has long black hair and cheekbones to die for—but also for his artistry. He's been training in traditional Chinese dance for the past ten years, which is why Meisel and W's fashion and style director Edward Enninful cast him for the March issue's "Shape Shifter" editorial in order to bring the Spring 2017 collections to life. Not only can Zhang turn heads on the runway, be the IMG model also did circles around the camera.

When did you decide to get into modeling and what influenced this decision?
Around spring of 2015. I was approached by several model agencies in China and they persuaded me to be a model. I thought that it might be a good opportunity worth trying.

What was it like working with Steven Meisel?
It was amazing. He can catch my moves, my feelings, and even my thoughts. He is a terrific artist.

Can you give any details from on set, or anything you learned from your experience that day?
The shoot was like a performance: I stood on the “stage” expressing my feelings and thoughts. Everyone worked hard and was super professional. We worked together to tell stories to viewers. The clothes gave me the inspiration to express more.

Had you ever worn women’s clothing before or walk in any mixed-gender shows?
This is actually the first time I've ever worn women's clothes.

For how long have you been dancing?
I'm a professional dancer for 10 years and my major was Chinese Ethnic and Folk Dancing. I enjoyed exploring Chinese traditional art.

How would you describe your personal style?
Simple.

What are you wearing right at this very moment?
I'm wearing a basic T-shirt, jeans and boots.

Most prized possession in your closet:
An earring my mom gave me.

When you’re not modeling, what do you like to do with your time?
Certainly dancing and traveling.

Who are some designers/artists you’re inspired by right now?
My father. He is an incredible artist who specializes in Chinese traditional painting.

Favorite place on earth:
Places with special memories. Like Beijing, my home, and New York, where many of my wishes as a model have come true.

What you miss most about being home:
Having family dinner together.

Dream job:
Working with fashion icons like Steven Meisel.

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