Being yourself is much more important than following trends.
Tell us a little bit about yourself, where you're from, and how you first got interested in fashion!
Hello , I'm Nancy Z. ^_^ My Chinese name is Xiaoxi Zhang. (It means stream.) I am a freelance illustrator and concept art designer who lives in Tianjin, a port city near Beijing, but I will be moving to Berlin soon to join some animation projects there. From my childhood, I was influenced so much by my mom. Her looks always are charming and modish. I also loved drawing girls with beautiful outfits and patterns a lot in that time. Maybe it is a destiny, as I also want to be a fashion designer in future.
At what point did you decide you wanted to go into fashion design? What does that mean for your current career?
I decided to be a fashion designer when I studied in academy. Most of the students wanted to be directors or technicians; I was just interested in character design and illustration. It is fabulous to design different people with different looks. I enjoy it so much. After [studies] I started to be a professional character designer and illustrator. I think I want to be a fashion designer, but this doesn’t mean I will give up or discontinue being an illustrator. I hope I could be a great illustrator and fashion designer at the same time, like James Jean!
How would you describe the style of your city?
Tianjin isn't as stylish a city as Beijing or Shanghai in China. There aren't so many creative and chic fashion designer boutiques in Tianjin as there are in Beijing or Shanghai. Most of people look to the practical fashion brands in shopping centers here, but I think there are always fashionable people and unfashionable people in every city.
What do you love about living in Tianjin?
I love going to the antique market to find many cheap and interesting accessories!
Can you show us some of your favorite antique finds that are in your looks?
Most of the accessories are brooches, little bags, and earrings. (I love collecting earrings, but I don't have ear holes!) I often show my red bag which I bought from there.
Top 3 places to visit in China:
I can only recommend the places I have been to. Out of those the top 3 are:
1. Sichuan: They have delicious Chinese foods, beauties and amazing sceneries.
2. Dunhuang: the Dunhuang frescos are one of the most marvelous traditional artworks in China.
3. Hang Zhou: Beautiful and delicate city.
Describe your personal style and its influences / inspiration.
Normally, I would like dressing myself up as an idyllic, graceful, vintage and simple style. But sometimes I also want to try something different. Color matching is the most important element when I put together my outfit.
My inspiration comes from movies, arts, photographs, music, and even some nature details. Sometimes I get sparks of inspiration when I'm watching movies. Afterwards I would design some impression drafts based on the movie, and try to create a similar feeling outfit with things in my closet. For example in one of my looks, I was so inspired by the heroine in The Lover that I tried to find a straw hat and plaited my hair! New Wave cinema and Egon Schiele's works also inspire me a lot.
Favorite designers and places to shop?
Favorite designers are Karl Lagerfeld, Marc Jacobs, Alexander Mcqueen, Eri Utsugi. Places to shop are high street shops and antique shops.
The first thing you look at in another person's outfit:
Color. The main color expresses the whole feeling, cool or sweet.
What do you skimp on?
Shoes. My size is too small to find a pair of shoes that is beautiful and also suitable for me at the same time.
What do you splurge on?
Dresses. It is hard to refuse a dress with amazing design.
Do you have a favorite dress you're most proud of?
A fashion rule you always break:
I think a 2-3 color mix is perfect. But I always love mixing a lot of colors. Most of time I don't care about rules.
A fashion rule you never break:
Rules are created by ourselves, they are also broken by ourselves. Nothing stays the same forever.
What do you think is the most recent notable trend to appear/reappear, and what are your thoughts on it?
Skin-tone clothing is popular recently. It not only expresses elegance, sweetness, and charm but also has an independent feeling.
What is the most underrated item in menswear and womenswear?
Short socks. Different textured short socks will add some nice details to your outfit. I also am starting to learn how to mix short socks well.
What is your next "must have" purchase?
A military jacket with good cutting or a pink casual suit.
Are there any fashion icons or famous people whose style you admire?
Jean Birkin. She is such a great singer, actress and fashion icon. Her smile is attractive and her style could be elegant, innocent and sexy. Everything is so natural.
What's on your iPod / bookshelf / DVD player at the moment?
iPod: Chinese Paladin OST, Riot On An Empty Street by Kings of Convenience
DVD player: Last Year at Marienbad
Bookshelf: Book of Change, Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Lacan (But Were Afraid to Ask Hitchcock)
What can't you live without?
I can't live without drawing!
Next place you want to travel to (and why):
Barcelona! I've always wanted to visit there! The building art by Gaudi is incredible. It mixes a lot of different cultural, artistic, and natural elements. The shapes of the buildings are fresh and full of vitality. This city is one of my dream lands.
What is your personal favorite outfit on LOOKBOOK by you, and by another member?
My favorite outfit of mine is face to the sea, with spring blossoming. It is one of my favorite poems, and the outfit also looks like an anchoret. Just like in the poem, I also would like to lead a secluded, idyllic life and just do anything I want.
My favorite outfit of another member is Full-length by Arvida Bystrom. Normally I dislike wearing full-length outfits, but her look is so unique! A simple and creative mix/match; her hair color suits the whole outfit so much.
Our last interviewee Pascal Grob wants to know: "A rabbit and a hole. What's happening?"
There was rain shower one day, so a rabbit want to find a place to hide. When it found a hole in a tree, he just jumped in, when he saw there was an exit on the other side. He climbed slowly through, and when he got out from the other way, he found that he came to a totally wonderful land. Finally,h e became the rabbit of Alice's Wonderland!
In the year 2014 you will be:
An astronaut flying to Mars? Ha, just a joke. It is hard to forecast since things are always changing out of our control. But it is exciting because I never know what might happen in the next second.
What would you say to someone seeking general fashion advice?
Seek something you really need. We know best which style is most suitable for us. Being yourself is much more important than following trends.
What should we ask the next interviewee?
What's your life's goal or dream?