Chen Man takes i-D behind the scenes on her cover shoot with mega-star Chinese actress Fan Bingbing.
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According to Forbes, Fan Bingbing is the third most famous celebrity in China and it’s easy to understand why. The 31-year-old Asian beauty is China’s most hard-working actress, with a creative output per annum more akin to another actor’s lifetime work. With her dainty doll-like features and porcelain complexion, she is also a poster girl for the new generation, her passion for fashion and ability to play with her appearance revolutionising the reputation of young women in China today. Born in Qingdao, Shandong, and raised in Yantai, Shandong, Fan Bingbing originally wanted to become a dancer. But on graduating from Shanghai’s Xie Jin’s Star School and Theatre Academy she fell in love with television drama instead, eventually making the transition to the big screen. In 2009, Fan Bingbing starred in a whopping six films – Shinjuku Incident, Sophie’s Revenge, Wheat, Bodyguards and Assassins, East Wind Rain and Future Cops – leading Chinese Elle to pronounce 2009 “The Year of Fan Bingbing”.
Hi Fan Bingbing, what does it feel like to be a style icon? It is an honour to me. However, I wish I wasn’t so spoiled!
Who are your favourite fashion designers? I love Stéphane Rolland, Elie Saab and Christopher Bu; they are not only my favourite designers but also my good friends. I adore the outfits designed by my friends, as we are connected.
What’s your favourite outfit you’ve ever worn?The dragon robe that I wore to the 63rd Cannes Film Festival made me so proud. It fully reflected that I am a beauty from China. It was the most unforgettable moment in my life. I also loved the nude Elie Saab dress I wore to Paris fashion week last year. I found it very sexy.
When do you feel at your most beautiful? Personally, I prefer me without any make-up on because it is more real. Real is beautiful in my opinion.
What do you wear to relax? I am comfortable with casual outfits, like T-shirts and skirts. It’s important to dress casually every once in a while because it eases stress.
What are you working on at the moment? My upcoming film, Yang Gui Fei. The rest of the year is fully scheduled with intensive promotions. It’s going to be pretty exhausting, but I am satisfied.
What do you think defines style? Style is all about attitude, and choosing looks that fully reflect your personality.
Who is your role model? I adore Freja Beha. She is incredibly cool, and very cute especially when she smiles. You could revel in the charisma she was born with!
How does Chinese beauty differ from western ideas of beauty? Chinese beauty is always graceful and reserved, while western beauty is more free and outgoing. I think Angelina Jolie is a good example. Chinese people prefer fairer skin, and larger eyes. Whereas Western people prefer tanned skin.
What’s your biggest vice? I am a bit lazy and I enjoy staying in bed. But once I get up I am stuck in busy work, so I always warn myself to get up early the next day but still fail to do so.
Tell us about the day of the shoot with Chen Man? Chen Man and I are good friends. She teases me sometimes, but I am really happy and comfortable in front of her, because she helps bring out the best in me.
What advice would you give other young actors wishing to follow in your footsteps? I hope they can insist on what they believe in. Acting is not a risk. Although it is pretty hard, it is still promising.
What makes you happy? More recognition would make me happy.
What makes you sad? Loneliness.
What’s your star sign? I’m Virgo, that’s why I am stubborn.
What are your hopes for the future? I wish to live more energetically.
Look 1: Fan Bingbing wears Dress Gucci. Ribbons Mokuba. Comb Panjiayuan Market Beijing. Look 2: Dress Lanvin. Jacket Panjiayuan Market Beijing. Look 3: Dress Alexander McQueen. Look 4: Dress Gucci. Ribbons Mokuba. Comb Panjiayuan Market Beijing. Look 5: Dress Haider Ackermann. Veil Panjiayuan Market Beijing. Look 6 (cover): Top and skirt Yves Saint Laurent by Stefano Pilati. Gloves Azzedine Alaïa. Ribbons Mokuba.