CANNES, France — When it comes to red-carpet risk-takers, Li Yuchun — aka Chris Lee — has figured among the headlining acts of the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, which wraps on Sunday. Take, for instance, the dramatic look she donned for the event’s opening ceremony, plucked from the latest John Galliano for Maison Margiela Artisanal collection.
Lee parted the sea of ubiquitous gowns in a black cropped wool jacket with red embroidered buttonhole fringing, paired with a white décortiqué poplin shirt and shorts, over-the-knee patent leather boots and a single pearl-encrusted earring. A pale pink frontier hat topped off the look. (Vêtements x Levi’s, Ellery and Gucci are among other brands sported by the Chinese pop singer and actress, who has since left for Venice.)
“When I saw the [Maison Margiela Artisanal] show, I found its concept very close to what I have been doing lately, this idea of peeling away the shell to expose the real you, and questioning the role of social media and this idea of how obsessing about ‘likes’ can inhibit your freedom,” Lee said during an interview following Kering’s Women in Motion awards ceremony on Monday.
With her pale gray pixie cut, androgynous physique and passive expression, Lee’s mysterious vibe is worlds away from the classic, bright and breezy Hollywood attitude adopted by most of the stars treading the carpet.
“You can choose to wear a long gown, or you can choose something different that shows your personality, which I personally find more interesting. I don’t want to play the safe card, I like to challenge myself and try new things,” said the star, who was tapped to walk in Naomi Campbell’s Fashion for Relief show earlier this week — her first time walking on the catwalk. “It was a new experience. It was total chaos backstage.”
Her look changes depending on the needs of her latest project, be it a shoot or album cover. Lee, who studied music, cited The Beatles and Prince among her heroes, and said she likes to follow Tilda Swinton’s style moves. Her initiation into fashion came in 2012, when Jean Paul Gaultier designed the looks for one of her tours. “They were really dramatic, I loved them,” she said.
Since then, she has added “Givenchy muse” to her credits, having appeared in several of the house’s campaigns. Its former creative director, Riccardo Tisci, also designed special looks for her concerts and named a sneaker after her, dubbed CL. The special-edition version of the brand’s Tyson sneaker featured a “1” and “0” on each heel, with “Why Me” and “Chris Lee” on the front of each shoe.
Lee, 33, also linked with Alexander Wang on costumes for her “Growing Wild” tour in August. Among her latest gigs, Gucci in June appointed Lee ambassador for timepieces and jewelry in Asia, with a follow-up campaign to launch in the coming months. The edgy style icon is also working on a collaboration with Diesel, due out in September. “You’ll have to wait and see,” she teased, keeping the details under wraps.
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