Li Bingbing: Gucci’s Chinese torchbearer
Chinese film star, Li Bingbing talks about Gucci, football, and her role in this summer’s Olympics.
BY Tamsin Blanchard |
23 April 2012
Li Bingbing is one of China’s biggest – and most beautiful – movie stars. Born in 1973, she moved from a small town in China to Shanghai to enrol at drama school in 1997 after originally training to be a teacher. As a student, she says she, like many cosmopolitan young women in China, dreamed of owning a piece of Gucci and in fact managed to save up to buy a handbag and a wallet.
The brand was new in China then, having opened its first shop when Tom Ford was at the helm in 1996. At last count there were over 46 stores across china, six in Shanghai alone, its success mirroring Li Bingbing’s own rise to stardom.
When creative director Frida Giannini was looking for a face for Gucci in China, Li Bingbing, was the natural choice – obviously a genuine fan of the brand.
Frida Giannini with Li Bingbing at the Gucci show in Shanghai. Photo: Getty
“I’m a Gucci girl!” She said proudly when the Telegraph met her on Saturday at the cocktail party to launch the new campaign for bags, jewellery and watches on the day Gucci presented its first ever show in China.
She is a similar age to Giannini and does not have the passive beauty of some of the younger Chinese ‘it’ girls.
“I really like the attitude in the pictures,” she says. “It’s very tough.” She strikes the pose, slightly narrowing her eyes and staring into the distance. “No excuses, no frills, it’s just Gucci.
“It was like celebrating the New Year when I bought those first pieces when I was a student because I really loved the brand,” she recalls.
And she keeps everything she buys and carries on wearing them. “It’s something that is worth keeping for a long time mainly because of the historical value of the designs. I feel I own a piece of Gucci history.”
Li Bingbing in the new Gucci campaign
She particularly likes accessories: “Sunglasses, bags, watches, jewellery …everything. Oh my god, I have a lot of handbags!”
This summer, Li Bingbing will have the chance to show off her latest Gucci bags (she is positively drooling over one of the bags in the campaign, a dusty pink number), and practice her English (she speaks very well though prefers to answer questions in Chinese through a translator). The star will be a torch bearer for China at the Olympics.
“I’m also the ambassador for the Chinese cultural exchange,” she says. She is no stranger to London having spent time in the capital as an ambassador for UEFA. She is a big football fan and claims to be able to sing along with the crowds. A former spokesperson for Adidas, she says: “I’m very sporty. I might look small but I’m very strong.”
Li Bingbing is the personification of the modern Chinese woman – the key to the big luxury brands’ continued phenomenal success in her country. She loves the heritage of brands like Gucci but she is also aware that China itself must cultivate its own fashion designers and brands with their own point of view.
“The fashion world in China is still very young and developing but with the help of these large brands such as Gucci coming in, it is influencing a lot of creativity that is here. I trust there will be influential Chinese designers in the future.”
Two years ago she went to the Venice Film Festival and wore a gown dress made specially by a Chinese designer, Guo Pei. ‘The design was a bit of the East and the West, light pink with Chinese good luck words sewn on to it. The jewellery I wore was a porcelain vase pair of earrings designed by Chinese designer Wan Bao Bao. Both female
designers like Frida. Very tough girls.”
And talking of tough girls, Li Bingbing’s latest film, Resident Evil: Retribution starring Milla Jovovich, is released in September in 3-D.
She plays a video game character. “It’s the first time I hold a gun,” she says. “It’s a very different experience for me. Usually I do bow and arrow and now its all gun and technology. Interesting, but a little but difficult because I had to wear a traditional long qipao dress, with a halter top and the skirt with a slit that comes all the way up to my underwear – with a big gun on the side” she laughs.
“Sometimes I’m a Gucci girl, sometimes I’m a bad girl.”
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Li Bingbing: Gucci’s Chinese torchbearer
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