China’s ‘first supermodel’ made the switch from international runway star to retail mogul, launching her contemporary ready to wear line Comme Moi seven years ago. On the eve of the launch of her exclusive capsule collection at Parlour X, she opens up about leaving the modelling world behind, the working-mother juggle, and how she’ll be celebrating Lunar New Year.
Fashionable, simple, convenient, chic, comfortable.
What did being ‘China’s first supermodel’ teach you about the fashion industry?
My international modelling experience has allowed me to understand more about Western culture and to be introduced to more international designers. This gives me a more global vision to help manage my company, which in turn makes my brand more international.
Tell us about starting your own label, Comme Moi?
Seven years ago, I decided to leave New York and move back to China. I had been living in Paris and New York for 10 years and I felt that my modelling career had reached a bottleneck. All of my years of professional experience and resources were in the fashion industry so I combined what I liked with the things I am familiar with, and from this came the idea to create a brand that belonged to wholly to me.
The reason for the transition was that I had been working as a model for a long time, and it was time to change my life. I chose to become a designer as I wanted to manage something of my own.
Why do you like to use wool in your collections?
Wool is not only comfortable but it has a less harsh impact on the environment. The use of wool is also not limited to winter clothes; I designed wool dresses which I wore this summer during my holiday in Greece and it was very comfortable and breathable.
How did you get involved with The Woolmark Company?
I began as a judge of International Woolmark Award. In addition to investing in the grand prize, The Woolmark Company also provide designers in China with the expertise, fabric technology, marketing resources, and they also help us to find fabrics and new suppliers.
How do you intend on celebrating Lunar New Year this year?
I will to travel to Australia with my son and husband and celebrate Lunar New Year – I have never been before!
How do you balance being a working mother and running your own company?
When my son was born, he was my priority. After he went to kindergarten I arranged my days focus on work, which should be integrated. For example when I am at work, I am very efficient. The time that I spend with my son and my husband is a priority and I do not want it be affected, even if I just finished a show and am extremely tired and busy! When it comes to a vacations, I will also definitely take leave from work. Fortunately, I have a very strong team and can step up when I am absent.
Final words of advice for budding designers?
First of all, gain industry experience with big fashion companies. After having a deeper understanding of the entire fashion industry, your chances of success when creating your own brand will be much higher.
Parlour X will stock an exclusive collection of Comme Moi in-boutique for a limited time only.
Shot on location at The Old Clare Hotel, Chippendale, Sydney.