Ingénue

On successful women and waffle consumption.

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Second only to the nerdy male underdog (and all your associated landmark teenage dream cinematic moments of the outlier hurdling the quarterback to publicly make out with Queen Bee), the most celebrated figure of modern film culture seems to be the cussing, awkward, rough and tumble, unlikely heroine who either A) against all (all) odds, gets a blowout, a tweed suit, and the rest of her sh*t together by the end of two hours, and exits stage left to revel in her newfound social status as a strong independent woman who don’t need no man definitely still needs the man she spent the whole film changing herself for, or B) credibly realises her mistake in aspiring to what society has pegged as defining a successful female, but is then seen to find peace with being seen as a weirdo.

I resent that.

(Except the tweed suit – that can stay.)

Admittedly, all of this is a cut above the damsel in distress. I’ve always found Golden Hollywood’s hopeless on-screen post-rescue-and/or-epiphany embraces (during which said damsel’s entire body has collapsed into her suitor’s red-blooded stronghold, with her neck snapped back at an unsightly 90 degree angle) exceedingly distressing. But, in the same way that generations of women have stormed away from the typecast bounds of sexual objectification and subservience, there’s no reason why today’s leading ladies should bow to the checklist of zealous self-assertion, divine recognition, material possessions, perfect offspring, and that artificial and condescending construct of a “work-life balance” (all the while, not ageing a year beyond 30) to be truly successful.

That is not to discredit what so many female trailblazers have done for gender inequality as a whole with these accolades in tow. But, there is no universal image of success.

 

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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.