La Dolce Vita

Shooting in the heat of my first day in Rome in magically empty surrounds of the Trevi Fountain, the Fendi team laughed that we should have orchestrated this during Anita Ekberg’s showstopping ‘La Dolce Vita’ moment. There would have been much less than the hundreds pressing against the barricades, indignant at their lack of access to the fabled paragon.




For a kid who cried in Kungfu Panda (when he realises the duck is not his father), I’ve become an intensely unemotional human with the longest tear drought a 23-year-old single freelance woman in fashion has ever seen. I credit this to a cocktail of exhaustion, constant air travel-related dehydration, and my militaristic emotive separation from working with crazy clients to maintain some shred of sanity, which has worked wonders for my productivity, and capacity to spend six weeks living out of a suitcase. For my soul, not so much.

The first time the floodgates opened in over six months was last weekend at Beyoncé – and not because of Beyoncé, but because of Prince. As much as I am substantially impressed by Queen Bey’s awe-inspiring vocal chords, the superhuman manoeuvring of the live cameramen, and whoever coded the giant jigsaw live screen box, the whole stadium concert experience complete with rain and sardined Tube rides, does not gel terribly well with my adversity to a high density of human bodies in barricaded spaces. This prompted the question from my mate Vandy (who was infinitely more animated about the whole ordeal than I was, in my robotic state): who would you mosh for? Of my six quick-fire no-brainers – Prince, Etta James, Michael Jackson, Jeff Buckley, BB King, and James Blake – only one is alive. Indeed, one of my greatest regrets in this short life of mine, fresh off the back of my irrational sadness over Prince’s recent departure, is that I will never be able to see him play live. So when Beyoncé crooned the first baby-baby-baby’s of The Beautiful Ones, I was up and at attention while all the under-15s in my section shuffled uncomfortably (“Is this one of her new songs? I don’t know this one”). Then, when she left the stage, the whole stadium went dark, then purple and tens of thousands of tiny phone lights glowed the galactic expanse of Wembley Stadium, I stood and sobbed violently through the entirety of Purple Rain.*





I generally apply the same reasoning to architectural icons and monumental tourist attractions. If there is a way around moshing, I will take it. Place du Trocadéro for that shot of the Eiffel Tower with mini-Eiffel towers being jangled in your face, not so much. But Champ du Mars before sunrise? Sign me up. No pain no gain. However, if the experience, regardless of its immediate human headcount, would surely bring me to tears (Top of the Rock at sunset, say, or playing in the San Marco Basilica), I will brave any heaving crowd to behold some glorious piece of art or history or culture or religious iconography.

Fontana di Trevi is one of these. On my first visit to Rome, shooting this self-portrait story for Fendi ahead of tonight’s show in celebration of the house’s 90 years of being badass, it was another of my rare tears, standing on the glass runway constructed just over the waterline, staring up at the most intricate piece of 16th Century architecture the city has to offer, it definitely drew those rare tears – through the dripping sweat of midday heatstroke, and my Roman curls, in front of throngs of confused onlookers. Even so, my producer and I needed it out of our systems so as not to choke and bawl while asking all the hard-hitting questions Fontana-side this evening for the show’s live stream (granted, we have no Beyoncé magic box, but we have Roman history and the literal who’s who of everything ever).

While we shot, the team laughed that we should have orchestrated this during Anita Ekberg’s showstopping La Dolce Vita moment. There would have been much less than the hundreds pressing against the barricades, indignant at their lack of access to the fabled paragon.

So Poseidon, I’m infinitely grateful for this heart-stopping moment to document you in all your dolphin-riding glory. I’ll be gushing about it for years (“No you don’t understand – I was in the Trevi Fountain“) . I’ll not be forgetting it in this lifetime. You, me and not another soul.

But just so you know, I would mosh for you.


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.


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