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Anything goes

Lucia Liu entering a black Mercedes-Benz
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One of China’s top stylists sheds a light on the country’s buzzing fashion scene.

Lucia Liu possesses an insatiable appetite for creative expression and a strong work ethic, two qualities that quickly made her one of China’s most coveted stylists when she returned to her home country after studying fashion in England and working as a stylist for a number of prestigious magazines. Her trademark kaleidoscopic outfits also earned her a respectable social media audience within the fashion world. With an impressive CV ranging from TV appearances to celebrity clients, and the founding of her own creative studio theBallroom under her belt, she now also holds the influential position of Executive Deputy Editor in Chief & Fashion Director of The New York Times T Magazine China.

Liu is simultaneously a style authority and a rule-breaker. We met her at her studio in Beijing during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week China to talk about the challenges of her trade and the status quo of high fashion in China.

Lucia Liu entering the black Mercedes to take a ride through Beijing

What is happening in the Chinese fashion and luxury world at the moment?

Chinese fashion has gained a lot of international attention in recent years. As the market here continues to grow China will play a major role in the luxury world. We also see a younger generation of talented Chinese designers on the rise, among them ShuShu/Tong, Xu Zhi, and Fengchen Wang. They all have a very diverse background.

Is fashion here aligning with global trends or can you make out independent and distinctive local characteristics?

I do feel that fashion in China is aligning with global trends. Thanks to the speed of social media these days it has been easier than ever to discover trends. However, China does have distinctive local characteristics in its fashion preferences. This is rooted in the culture and background which make China a unique market.

Lucia Liu sitting in a Mercedes

What are some of the characteristics that make Chinese fashion so unique?

Nowadays more and more people in China are becoming bolder in their fashion choices in terms of colour choices and patterns. This is especially interesting because it encourages Chinese designers to be more adventurous with their creativity and designs.

What is your role at T Magazine China, and how does it intersect with your work for theBallroom?

I am the Executive Deputy Editor in Chief & Fashion Director of T Magazine China. I work closely with the Editor in Chief on content and development of the magazine, and at the same time oversee fashion and visual stories. When needed, theBallroom team provides the necessary production and communication support during different projects.

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What is the concept of theBallroom?

theBallroom provides a 360-degree creative platform, from initial creative development to image production and publication through multi-media outlets. On top of that we also work with many celebrities, from styling consultancy to collaborative projects where theBallroom caters to all kinds of creative and production needs.

The most vital part in keeping true to your own style is knowing who you are. Lucia Liu

You travel a lot but your work and studio are based in China. How and where do you get inspired?

Travel is always a journey of inspiration. Every place I travel to brings great memories and experiences. China is my home, and I am glad to have established theBallroom here. As a country, it constantly inspires me. The country itself and the industry have been blossoming in so many aspects, and it is an exciting time to be a part of this development. Daily life inspires me a lot, from streets I come across to the exhibitions I visit and the people I meet.

Do you feel Beijing is the perfect place to realise your full creative potential?

The concept of creative potential is always changing. As time moves on, we grow and beautiful surprises surface. I am glad to be where I am now and look forward to seeing where the journey will take me as a creative. The perfect place for anyone to realise their potential is wherever a group of people with the same goals and ambitions are working together. I believe we are on the right track here.

You have a very eclectic, colourful appearance. Please tell us the story about your red outfit. What pieces are you wearing, and what connects you to these items and the overall look?

The red shirt and earrings are both from MiuMiu, and my pink dress is by the Chinese designer Angel Chen. I do have a lot of Prada and MiuMiu in my wardrobe. I am sensitive to colours, and depending on my mood, I might be very colourful one day and then I might just go with a simple black, grey and white combination the next day. It is a reflection of the two sides of myself.

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What are your essential style rules for yourself?

My rule is: There are no rules.

And for your clients?

It always depends on the project and person. I do not set limitations, and explore my inspiration in the process.

My rule is: There are no rules. Lucia Liu

How do you stay true to your own style while also constantly reinventing yourself and your work?

The most vital part in keeping true to your own style is knowing who you are. I have always been interested in creating different points of view. That is who I am. I would describe my style as a reflection of constantly creating unique points of view. It is a process of assembling from creative chaos.

How much of your personal style goes into your work, how personal is your styling?

That depends on the project and clients. My work involves celebrity styling, so I offer a styling consultancy that would reflect the best of a client’s individual personality and style. For fashion stories and other creative projects, I start off with a lot of research in order to understand the project and then interpret visually while keeping in line with any conceptual aspects.

That sounds like a lot of creative pressure. How do you deal with this?

I deal well with creative pressure, because I believe inspiration can be found around us at all times. My family plays a big role in my life and they are there for me when I need to be reminded of the many beautiful things in life. That helps to keep me calm and move forward. I also find great relief in dance and music.

What is your dream project for 2017?

I look forward to the wonderful surprises 2017 may bring.

Thank you very much for these inspiring insights into your world!

All photos taken by Luo Yang, MO-INDUSTRIES.COM