Vogue Me

April 3, 2016 52 New York, USA

In shooting these two covers for Vogue China’s new Vogue Me publication, I wanted to hammer home what I’ve been flogging for the past five years. The youth of today don’t need to blindly follow the paths and pressures laid out by generations beforehand.

Be the one in control.

And get a perm.

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I’m not going to lie: the process of shooting these frames one Winter’s morning in New York was definitely the tipping point for my spending most of Fashion Month wallowing in what, by Milan, I was pretty convinced to be pneumonia.* High risk of cold exposure injury, Mayor de Blasio crackled over the radio (to be read in Gary Owens’ Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In tones). Temperatures to reach close to zero this afternoon. Please do not go outside unless absolutely necessary. “Zero degrees Farenheit, that is,” the concierge at my hotel pointed out from under the flaps of his trapper hat.

Cut to the fashion industry pulling up their sheer tights, silk pussy bows, and insubstantial tailored outerwear (if any), stumbling their way to between SUVs double parked outside hour-late shows, armed with street style game-faces and broken souls.

Meanwhile, I had taken the morning off to embody an even more tragic fashion victim, shoulders bared to -17°C sunshine, forcibly enlisting my unsuspecting hair and make-up artists to give up their limbs in the name of the most ridiculous self-portrait cover ever shot. Even without suspended mirrors, hands reaching into all frames from all angles, and The Zhang trying to give  Twister-style isolated body part instructions to four different frozen human beings simultaneously, the process of self-shooting looks entirely ridiculous. Certainly, I’ve photographed myself in terrifyingly public places before, but, on a mission to visually crystallising the concept of an independent modern day Renaissance Woman (or man) who don’t need no man (or woman), this was a whole other level of chaos on set. TIME Magazine, who happened to be documenting my life for that particular day, was so confused by what the hell was going on with all our running inside to thaw out after every shot, that they washed their hands of the whole situation, and reduced everything I do to being an “Instagram celebrity”We all know how I feel about that.

 

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But back to the hard-hitting stuff. With these two covers that I shot for Vogue China’s new and record-smashing publication, Vogue Me, I wanted to hammer home what I’ve been flogging for the past five years. The youth of today don’t need to blindly follow the paths and pressures laid out by generations beforehand. Be the one in control. Contrary to what your career adviser at high school preaches, you are not limited to one skill set. No given human is capable to being good at just the one thing. Particularly in creative industries where it actually makes sense for one of diversify (and today, it’s entirely necessary to in order to maintain any kind of competitive edge), you can forge multiple career trajectories in multiple directions without any risk of each cannablising the other so long as they’re complementary, and you’re open to working with and constantly learning from other people.

I, for one, find it so bemusing when brands and publications credit their lack of progression to “not having enough resources”. Of course, this stems from HR laziness – it takes just a little more digging, researching and interviewing to find someone who has cultivated two or three or four skills, rather than settling for your Jane Doe who looks perfect on paper, but in reality, can action less than a quarter of the role you should be filling. But let’s not focus on that for the time being – you’ll just end up trying to channel an disproportionate rage against The Status Quo and The System which you can only really pity and get back to work, if you want to see any real change over the lifetime of your career.

No, no. None of that for a Sunday night.

Back to my hectic faux-perm.

Which I so desperately wanted to keep, until I thought about the dead-straight regrowth.

Nope.

 

*Fortunately, it was not pneumonia, and French antibiotics are terrifyingly concentrated, so Paris Fashion Week was much more pleasant in the absence of that looming sensation of an oncoming coughing fit.

Look 1: Georgia Alice Top and Trousers, Givenchy Earrings, Adornemonde Rings

Look 2: Chanel Dress, Alexander McQueen Bra

Look 3: Dion Lee Top, Natasha Schweitzer Earring

PHOTOGRAPHY & STYLING // MARGARET ZHANG

HAIR // RICHARD KAVANAGH

MAKE-UP // VALERY GHERMAN

MODEL // MARGARET @ IMG

  • Nice pics!

    Don’t miss today my new shoes…comfy, Italian design and with a vanguardist touch! ;)

    .
    .
    Kisses from http://www.withorwithoutshoes.com
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  • Go Margaret! c: Xx Ice Pandora

  • So cool! Margaret, you are the best <3

    Shall We Sasa

  • A perm so pretty I could cry. Love these shots!

    Charity
    http://www.peachfuzzblog.com

  • Insane! It took a minute of looking at that cover to uncover how much work was in that shot! I love your message Margaret.
    xx Jenelle
    http://www.inspiringwit.com

  • Beautiful cover. I love the different hair style from the usual straight hair.

    http://www.itsallbee.com

  • Amazing Margaret! Congratulations :) xx

  • Simply beautiful! :)

    La Bijoux Bella | by mia

  • fixatedfaiyaz

    you are a warrior for braving that kind of cold head on. but these results were totally worth it, these covers are stunning! and oh gosh. I hate how Time simply labelled you an instagram celebrity. clearly they don’t know what’s going on.

    xx Faiyaz
    http://www.fixatedf.com

  • such great advice, thank you!! I’m just about to graduate from high school, and the thought of being stuck in one area of study/one career for the rest of my life has been freaking me out to no end. also, you look incredible in these shots!
    xx Emily
    emilyjane.typepad.com

  • MATTY CHENG

    This series of photography is very poetic I found! well done on VOGUE CHINA! and Congrats

    Matt xx

    http://tobaccorouge.com

  • Everything about this is beautiful!!! I always love your external references, it’s what makes your articles so different and interesting. I totally agree with the diversification of skills. Beautiful photos! So creative with the selfie.

    I feel your emotions about that certain label by TIME magazine…

    http://www.thefacelessstyle.blogspot.com

  • Nice article and photography. I also like these line this is like a poetry “The youth of today don’t need ………get a perm.”

  • Shloka Narang

    It’s true – why should the generations of today be forced to follow the paths set out for them? At the risk of sounding incredibly cheesy, why follow the path when you can create your own? It’s all about being able to foster the skills you need to be able to do it all, and I truly believe that we are empowered enough to not follow the grain.

    What an inspiring start to my Monday morning!

    Shloka
    thesilksneaker.com

  • Tatjana

    Oh you poor girl! The pictures turned out beautiful. Totally worth the sacrifice in my opinion.
    We do not feel good about the Times label. It’s so easy to label though instead of getting to understand things and situations.
    Cheers,
    T.
    ………………………………………………….
    https://tbymallano.wordpress.com/

  • Love the shoot!

    alexamjohnson.com

  • I was really excited about watching the Time video, but what really irked me was how they focused on just your instagram feed – ‘I want to be instragram famous too and meet famous people too.’ What about the fact that you’re a photographer, a stylist, a great writer etc?! I wish they focused more on the intellectual and technical side of running your instagram and your career in fashion etc.

    Now back to the other topic. The whole following the paths laid out by (particularly) by our parents. I’ve been following the path laid out for my for the last 6 months, and I’ve never been so disconnected from myself and feeling like I’ve achieved so much, yet nothing at the same time. All in the name of that resume. “It’s for your future. Don’t you want a good future?” Everyday, I fear getting a small glimpse of my future, where I’ve conformed into this resume building empty soul, working from 9-9 and fully losing who I really am. Uugh.

    On the bright side, I absolutely love that self portrait cover shot. It’s so busy yet to calming at the same time. Congratulations on a beautiful cover! Getting a behind the scene look from the Time video was a huge bonus as well. I small tip for the future, if you’re ever shooting in the freezing cold, you could get the stick-on heat pads from Daiso and stick them to your back or wherever covered to provide some warmth. It helps!

    Looking forward to more great contents from you.

    M.May | MissMMayhem.blogspot.com

  • Lovey Fleming

    Gorgeous!!! You’re such a stunner, congrats on this amazing spread~
    xoxo

    http://theindiegirl.com

  • Firstly, has anyone seen Fresh Off The Boat? Because the notion of a ‘success perm’ is discussed, where those who are successful, get perms, and this kind of reminded me of that. Secondly, that idea is absolutely right in this piece. (Not that perms = success). Margaret, you’ve inspired myself, and many others, as you went against the grain, picked up various talents, and showed the world that there are other ways to do things. Blogging seems so one dimensional sometimes, depending on who is discussing, when in fact, a blog is a website, a website someone owns and creates. That person is the creative director, they write, they photograph and they have to take onboard all these other skill sets, which doesn’t make them a blogger at all, but we like to minimise things and put them in a box. You’ve been able to create your own success within an industry, in a way that the generation before hand would not, and I think the perm just shows us all that you’ve become successful. It’s not only inspiring, to know that there are other options, and that we don’t have to limit ourselves, but it also sucks that the industries around us want to limit us and put us in that box. Thank you for your gorgeous words, and beautiful photography, yet again.

    That perm is on point though.

    http://www.tiffanyandcouture.com

  • I love your hair like this, you look stunning :)

    x Sophie

    http://www.sophysticate.com

  • ash

    Amazing Cover!

    Congratulation!!!

    http://www.collectiverequest.com

  • Sarah

    Hi Margaret! I just watched the TIME video and it made me a little sick. You clearly state in the end that you’re not, and not interested in being, an Instagram star. Still, they decide to use that hook for their whole video and article…. Unbelievable. Anyway, it was nice to get a quick behind-the-scene feeling of you taking your self-portraits. They turned out beautifully and I’m happy that Vogue China did convey your message as you wanted it to be conveyed. Keep on going, I’ll be following! :-) X Sarah

  • Love this shoot!
    -mainou
    http://www.looksbymc.com

  • viamn.com

    Congratulations on you cover!

    http://www.viamn.com/

  • Giovanna

    Wow absolutely beautiful. Love all of the shots, and your hair is just perfection! I think you will resonate with my blog, would love to get your feedback :)
    xo
    http://confusedgirlinthecity.com/blog/

  • Thank you for voicing that we are free to define our own paths, not simply those advised by our parents or counselors, but ones we forge ourselves. You serve as a wonderful inspiration to that end. Beautifully written and shot as always!

    xo Soo | http://www.BrownEyedToast.com

  • Congratulations, Margaret! You have always been a huge inspiration to us!

    http://www.jildiamante.com
    http://www.instagram.com/jildiamante

  • Loving the hair and these shots babe!

    Agnes x

    BlvckBee.Com

  • common princess

    Great look for you! congrats! :-)

    http://www.thecommonprincess.com

  • You’re are such a phenomenal writer and your work is just amazing. Keep it up and congratulations on your success. I love you work! It’s what inspired me to start blogging!

    xoxo
    The Modern Alice
    http://www.themodernalice.com

  • SHELLY LIU

    CONGRATS ZHANG! JUST SUPER PROUD OF YOU BEING ON THE COVER OF VOGUE MAGAZINE! XOXO

    LOVE,

    SHELLY L

    http://WWW.SHELLURE.COM

  • This is very inspiring. Also congrats on being on the cover of vogue.

    http://www.caralynn.co

  • Shivan Patel (Gathum)

    Love the perm… <3 congrats on the vogue cover..

    http://www.gathum.co.nz

  • You are the perfect embodiment of going against the grain and designing your own career path. So inspiring.

    http://www.adxmaiora.com/night-life/

  • Amazing publication Margaret! You look stunning and so chic!
    http://www.theavantguardian.com

  • Love the photos!!!
    Most of the covers and magazines show a beautiful and delicate woman, but with this cover the action changed completely. You show independence and work… And the selfies are official now!!

    Xxx from Ibiza
    Burke
    http://www.burkeewig.com

  • Alexis

    The New Renaissance Woman indeed! Congrats on the cover and really enjoyed this read ?

    http://www.alexisgauba.com

  • so good !

  • Congratulations on the cover!

    Keri

    http://www.thestylestudiobykb.com
    Instagram: @stylestudiobykb

  • First and foremost, congrats on the two covers Marg! Truly an accomplishment :) Also, always get a perm. I just did last month in March!

    xo,
    Tommy | http://www.mybelonging.com

  • Your covers are so beautiful and inspirational! Amazing work

    http://www.beigerenegade.com

  • Loving the curls, but really glad they’re not ‘perm’anent (see what I did there?). Thanks for the lovely read and the beautiful pics.

    Angie.

  • shruti

    looking glamorous on vogue color (y) :)

    mens tailored suits

  • Eve

    Absolutely flawless…And getting a Vogue cover is the dream.

    Guys, I just started a travel x fashion blog.

    If you wanna read about my adventures exploring Rome after midnight, check it out here:

    https://everinablog.wordpress.com/2016/04/13/midnight-in-rome/

  • Margaret – if there was anyone who could pull off this perm it would be you!

    When I first saw this cover pop up on my newsfeed I went.. wow! She’s done it again. I’ve been following your progress for years now girl and you are truly an inspiration. I totally disagree with branding people who do what you do as just an ‘instagram celebrity’ – it is so much more!!

    Well done again and I am going to have to get my hands on a copy of the issue!

    Helen xx
    http://CH1K.com

  • Congratulations on the Vogue cover. What a fun experience. Love the perm hair! Hope you have a great week.

    – Elise XO
    http://www.thewaterwanderer.com

  • Love the read so much and you definitely look gorgeous as always. So much hard work put behind gorgeous end products, thumbs up for you! You’re so talented! Good that you follow your passion and it didn’t go to waste! (:

    xx
    Xin

    http://xincerely.blogspot.com

  • Luke Ross

    My least favourite corporate response to anything… “we don’t enough resources”. Great shots btw!

    http://www.thefashionsamaritan.com

  • Georgia Bobar

    You are so young and talented! Also true definition of hard work!

    xoxo

    http://www.georgiasunray.com

  • elle

    Not a fan of the perm at all (Might have to do with me suffering from semi curls and hate it to infinity). But god, you sure created an amazing shot with the well staged selfie. Definitely a favourite Marg shot !

  • Yes!!!!! Some people are perfect on paper ONLY, but its too bad since society chooses to only use that piece of paper to judge our worth!? And before this, I thought short perms were for grandmas but I was wrong ;)