Can I Help You?

Rather than compiling a thousand Q&A’s into one painfully long post, or write an essay about my perspective on life, I’ll just check in once a month to respond to your questions in the comment box, and you can all refer back to this page for answers to burning life questions, when you need them most.

Ask, and you shall receive.

I often forget that not everybody is as wholly fused to multiple social media platforms as I am. As a result, those questions that are answered on Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and email, don’t make it to each and the other, and I find myself faced with the problem of a thousand messages across every platform, asking more or less the same thing. Given that the choice is between answering every single one with slightly different phrasing, or continuing with all too many readings ahead of classes this week, I thought it more effective to direct everyone to this one post. And, rather than compiling the lot into one painfully long post (as I have done once before, and will never, ever do again), or write an essay about my perspective on life (which will probably reoccur eventually, but for now, ain’t nobody got time fo that), I’ll just check in once a month to respond to your questions in the comment box below, and you can all refer back to this page for answers to burning life questions, when you need them most.

Or, there’s also Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and email, for that.

As a matter of guidance, or not, here are the answers to what have essentially been the most pressing subjects in question across all of my social channels over the past month:

How do you balance Law School and your Fashion life? In short, it’s not impossible. Consider all the time you spend procrastinating on Facebook, on the couch, on your phone, in a day, and reallocate that to something productive, even if that means going for a run, or cleaning out the house, or making dinner for your parents, or volunteering at a community centre. Set signpost goals in your mind of where you want to be in a year, two years, five years, and ten years. If what you’re doing at any point in time isn’t contributing to that, stop and do what you should be doing. Time management and long-term ambition is key. (Having said that, you really do need time off to stay healthy – just allocate that to a particular day of the week or month).

How do you get brands to give you money? If your goal in a creative field is looking to be solely commercial, you need to step back and reassess. Do you want to build a powerful digital brand, with credibility, long-term influence, and promote good values to a loyal audience, or do you just want to fly around the world, look pretty and have nice designer bags? If you’re after the latter, then just sell out like crazy, and the dollars will come.

How did you meet your boyfriend? Not on the internet.

What was this image (above) shot for? I shot this for the Caslazur Cartel while romping around New York last month – you can see the full series here.

What should I wear to University in Winter? Not sweatpants. Try this.

Are you still a vegan? I’m actually back to just being a vegetarian, but try to keep a cap on how much dairy I consume (too much makes me feel ill).

If you’re a vegetarian, why do you wear leather? As much as I am against animal cruelty, my vegetarianism stems mostly out of personal health reasons. The leather that I do buy does not come off the back of a truck – I buy from regulated (often boutique) brands and designers who have a social conscience, and are not skinning cows alive in their studios.

Have you had a nose job? No.

Why are your eyes so small? Oh god.

What are some of your favourite websites? I made a list quite recently, here.

What camera and lenses do you shoot with? Nikon D600, 85mm f/1.8G, 14-24mm f/2.8G, and 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6D.

What is your skincare routine? I try and switch it up every couple of months, as your skin just gets used to certain products and they become less effective, but I consistently use extra virgin coconut oil as a make-up remover and moisturiser (unless I’m traveling – it’s too hard to carry, and having it spill in your luggage is disgusting), I always wear sunscreen (Mecca Cosmetica’s series is a handbag regular), and more of my favourites are here, and here. Everybody’s skin responds differently, though (my skin is classified as normal, for the record).

You eat so much on Instagram! How do you stay so skinny? While it may surprise you, I don’t personally consume every piece of food that shows up on Instagram. Sometimes, I’m not eating by myself in a corner, and I have cute food dates with other people, who also eat, rather than watching me devour multiple meals in one sitting.

Who takes all of your photos? Unless I’ve credited otherwise, I shoot all of my own photos on a tripod and self-timer.

Even on Instagram? Yes, unless it’s a photo of me, in which case I’ve just ambushed a stranger to snap a quick shot, or convinced whoever I happen to be with to have more than two seconds of patience. Most of the time, this is Alex.

What apps do you use for your Instagram photos? My favourites are Luminance and Snapseed.

How do I create my own personal style? First consider your body shape, and what you feel the most comfortable in. Then expand into colours, textures, and prints from there.

How often do you workout, and how long for? Five days a week, one hour per session.

What are some of your favourite foods? These. And my Mother’s sticky rice dumplings. Heavenly stuff.

How do you afford to travel so much? The majority of my travel is for work, and I just try to sneak in a day or two off in each city. I work roughly the equivalent of full time, so if it’s a personal holiday, I just set aside dollar bills as any other person would.

What’s the best way to manage my finances (i.e. save for fancy shoes)? Cut up your credit card. And shop sales.

Do you think the fashion world is racist? Read up.

Please tell me how to get my foot in the door in the fashion industry? Experience is everything. Have initiative and consider what potential employees would want to see on your resumé, beyond your supposed “passion for fashion” (please don’t put that in your cover letter). Internships are not difficult to come by, and given that the Australian industry is relatively small, a good reference letter from your boss can go such a long way. Make sure you build yourself a strong public digital brand, even if that means posting inspiration photos on Instagram, and having a separate private account for your drunk nights rolling around on the beach in Thailand. If you want to be a fashion writer, start a website with properly structured opinion posts about events in the fashion industry. If you want to be a stylist, reach out to photographers and build your portfolio of work. It’s very straightforward stuff. Creatives don’t want to guess what you’re capable of – they want it in black and white in front of them.

Anything else?

Ask and you shall receive.

My facial expression is ready.

Comment box is below.

Go.

shot on Nikon D600 with 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6D

wearing Caslazur

About

Margaret Zhang 章凝 is an Australian-born-Chinese filmmaker, photographer, consultant and writer based between New York and Shanghai. Since establishing her website in 2009, Zhang has gone on to work with global brands including CHANEL, Swarovski, YEEZY, Bulgari, Gucci, MATCHES, Under Armour, and Louis Vuitton in a wide range of capacities both in front of and behind the camera, while completing her Bachelor of Commerce/Bachelor of Laws at The University of Sydney. Zhang’s directing, photography, and styling has been employed by the likes of VOGUE, L’Officiel, Harper’s BAZAAR, NOWNESS, and ELLE internationally. She has been listed in Forbes Asia’s 30Under30 and TimeOut’s 40Under40, and her work has been recognized as shaping the international fashion industry by the Business of Fashion BoF500 Index for four consecutive years. CNN has identified Zhang as a leading fashion photographer in Asia and ELLE named her the region’s most influential digital voice. She went on to be the first Asian face to cover ELLE Australia. In 2016, she co-founded BACKGROUND, a global consultancy for which she specialises in Western-to-Chinese and Chinese-to-Western cultural bridging for a range of luxury, lifestyle, and brand initiatives. In 2017, she exhibited a series of 39 unseen photographic works as a solo show in Sydney, and premiered her first short film – a 15-minute exploration of her visceral relationship with classical music on both performance and abstract planes – to critical acclaim. In 2018, co-curated the first annual FOREFRONT Summit focused on inter-industry problem-solving at all scales of business. From this king summit, Zhang developed FOREFRONT+ – a round table series of candid conversations covering subject matters of universal concern. In 2019, THE FACE Magazine engaged Zhang as Creative-Director-at-Large for Asia for its relaunch. Zhang is currently working on her first feature film.