I interviewed Eva Yan, an Academy graduate who studied oil painting and now works in Shanghai. I interviewed her because she is a very stylish person whose outfit never fails to attract my attention. The interview was conducted through emails in Chinese. The following is my translation.
How does it feel living in Shanghai after five years in San Francisco?
Well for me it’s the same. You can still get delicious bagels and Thai noodles here.
Any thing you really miss in San Fransisco? Favorite spots you used to like to check out when you had a free moment?
I had this obsession with Macy’s window displays. I used to go there and looked at the decorations and mannequins. Quaintly it had a soothing effect on me. Something about fashion but more than fashion.
Now where do you go when you want to be artistically or fashionably inspired?
I work now at a gallery, selling paintings and making suggestions to the curator on whether to buy a piece or not. For me the best opportunities to get ideas of what they are wearing these days are opening receptions.
Is the trend very different in Shanghai?
From what I have seen I think people in Shanghai always dress up only on special occasions. They have their best suits and dresses they wear on museum-going, gallery-going, fancy restaurant-going days. There isn’t that much latest trend to speak of as they only have those few carefully-chosen pieces.
The Chinese trend is of a very different kind. I was really amazed one day by an dark fuchsia embroiled chi-pao the curator’s wife worn at an auction in the Peninsula Hotel. She brought with her a vibe that was impossible for runway collections to bring but jumped out at me as the most attractive person present. People here don’t follow latest trends or pieces as closely as we do in San Fransisco. They just have a unique way of fashion expression.
As far as personal style goes, I think you have a knack for always getting the right clothes. What’s your secret?
Haha. Always getting the dresses right is not easy. The only principle I have is be true to oneself. Of course I read all kinds of fashion blogs and websites but I never allow myself to be conveniently influenced. Follow trends if you like them but never let yourself be carried away.
Any pieces you particularly hate seeing people wear these days? I still remember the time when you were very ready to share with me dressing styles or collections that seem to you are, to put it mildly, “unbelievable”?
Well recently I do have complaints to make: Karl Lagerfeld and his cat Choupette. It’s one thing to be fun and another thing to be living off one’s past gains. Seriously a series of purses with cartoon cats on them is fashion for 6th graders. And each of the purse sells for over 200 dollars. It’s crazy. And some young women I met in the gallery I can tell really thought their new handbags were very eye-catching. Well they were, but no in the way they wanted them to be.
There are many people that are going to be so offended that you said that.
Well fashion is a very personal thing. I don’t comment on people’s dressing style with the sole intention to insult. But I do want to add a new perspective. Whenever famous designers come with a new collection, people hail in what looks to me like rehearsed, collaborated unison. My ideas are unconventional, all I ask is that readers keep an open mind.
And I guess living in a new city also brings you new perspectives?
Absolutely. I have already got used to seeing people walking on the streets at 11 o’clock in morning in their pajamas. Was a shock to me. Totally new insight. But the curious thing is that I don’t get mad at those pj wearers the same way I am with Choupette carriers. I think being plain is more laudable than being pretentious.
You have a keen eye for things.
For the beautiful and unfortunately also for the ghastly.
You should open your own fashion blog. Your insights will make wonderful fodder.
I might open one to keep it as a diary but definitely not a place for people to fight with one another to decide whether Gucci’s latest collection is heaven or hell.