This is Margaret

I don’t think there could be a more aptly timed and titled piece to introduce a fresh chapter I’ve been holding out for – and hell, have I been holding out.

So, ladies and gents: bear with me while I make functional tweaks over the next couple of weeks. And fear not, you’ll still be getting all that hashtag content. Perhaps even more frequently (dare I say it) now that I’m not paralysed by the sheer number of platforms we all feel pressured engage in. But, essentially:

This is Margaret.

2.0, if you will.

Now, onto the good stuff and Venezia, Italia for the first time in a decade. My last torrid affair with La SerenissimaLa Dominante, The Floating (Sinking?) City, was as a 14-year-old touring with a chamber orchestra just before Christmas – when the colossal significance of playing in the San Marco Basilica and Chiesa della Pieta didn’t quite register on the cultural appreciation spectrum of 2€ pizza slices the size of my then-torso to emotional stirrings in response to Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater, lost in the tumult of my adolescent ignorance.

This time around, it was to direct this short motion piece with Jaeger-LeCoultre by day and live a strange and exhilarating gown-and-updo life by night, punctuated with gala dinners and red carpets (from which I categorically surmised that I am not built to be a lady).

As it goes, this is one of the few projects I’ve gone into with absolutely no idea as to what the result would be. Two scout days; a shoot day time-kept by a tray of rendez-vous watches as a constant reminder of how little time left we had to capture the miscellaneous cats and gondoliers cameos I wanted; a 20-minute voiceover session with my friends’ father on the fly at Hôtel Costes during fashion week; and a week debating with with my producer whether or not the accordion was culturally perceived today as French or Italian (for the record, the true origins are the latter), but did it really matter because the script was a caricature Manhattanite and I was playing tennis in heels.

And then, the visual challenges.

Margaret Zhang Venice Italy Gondola

Margaret Zhang Venice Italy Acqua Alta Libreria

The large majority of Venice, for all its narrow alleys and early Gothic architecture, spends a lot of time in shadow over the course of a day. A glorious moment of rich orange and gold and green rounding the corner of a canal will fade to grey by the time you frame up. Drop pins certainly won’t help you – though the whole city is connected by waterways, there aren’t always debarkation points around your perfect bridge or church or square (at least, not without high risk of tumbling into the abyss). Consequently, my hours of location scouting on foot, all the while humming my iuxta crucem lacrimosa‘s and dum pandebat Filius‘s, was largely in vain – aside from the incidental discovery of the best squid-ink pasta I’ve ever had (no small claim), and greater justification for a second serving of said squid-ink pasta on my Health app step count.

All that said, this was for sure one of my favourite motion pieces I’ve worked on to date.

Always late.

But worth the wait.

Margaret Zhang Jaeger-LeCoultre Director

Margaret Zhang Venice Italy Acqua Alta Libreria Petar Petrov

Margaret Zhang Venice Italy


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.