I’ll Have What She’s Having

On reconsidering the social soapbox and a short film directed by yours truly: transplanting Rive Gauche philosophers at Café de Flore to modern day heroines telling us what’s what in downtown Manhattan.


I have spent the first few months of 2017 laying low.

I stand fixated by a self-inflicted crossroads, where the destination couldn’t be clearer but, of course, we must consider the alternatives. For almost seven years, I’ve primarily populated this space with expressions of my visual escapism, increasingly accessorised with isolated outbursts on issues of race and youth (and youth and youth and youth) and the media. And yet, surely, there are only so many opinions an individual can have – derived from their immediate anecdotal injustices and transient social rage. How does one evolve a platform that has only one voice?

I wouldn’t say that I’ve avoided contentious realms of conversation altogether – far from it. But there has always been a solid portfolio of topics left untouched, with the lame justification that I just wasn’t well enough informed to cover all bases. It’s a can of worms, I’d say. Until I realised that it wasn’t.

In the face of damned if you do, damned if you don’t: do something and be damned, goddamnit. There is nothing more deplorable (if you’ll allow me that one) than deliberate indifference: “I can’t even read the news right now because it stresses me out” or “I’m not qualified to have an opinion”. Acknowledging that there exists this ideological rift in the way people feel about the greatest social, ethical and economic questions of our generation, is not (and I repeat, is not) synonymous with blind acceptance of that difference.

Of course, acting on this understanding remains a minefield. To brand oneself an ‘activist’ by way of emoji-ridden Instagram bio or carefully choreographed photographic and hashtag evidence of participation, seems to bastardise a renaissance of last century’s truly impassioned and organised drivers of change. And yet, perhaps such “slacktivism” and its uncomfortable overtones of ignorance must be tolerated in the name of progress. It is a legitimate argument that these exhibitionists are at least generating awareness for a cause that will captivate a curious few – if #prayforaleppo is what it takes to draw attention to







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.