I don't often get to cover Asian artists on my blog, but today I want to pay tribute to an exceptional actress who has helped place Chinese cinema on the map internationally. To say that Maggie Cheung is elegance incarnate would be an understatement.
Cheung was born in Hong Kong and spent most of her adolescence in London, England before moving back to Hong Kong, landing a job as sales representative at an upscale department store Lane Crawford. In 1983, she placed as first runner-up in TVB's Miss Hong Kong Pagaent and from there she went on to gain starring roles in campy television series for a number of years before branching into cinema.
There has been no turning back since then. She has won Best Actress Awards at the prestigious Cannes and Berlin International Film Festivals. In 2007, The New York Times hailed Cheung as one of the 22 Greatest Performers of the year for her performance in ex-husband Olivier Assayas' film Clean, which was filmed across Canada, France and England. The role demanded she speak fluently in English, French and Cantonese. And she did it with ease. It also brings me great pride to know she filmed the movie, which earned her that prestigious award at Cannes, here in Toronto.
Many of you might not know this but Cheung actually appeared in Quentin Tarantino's 2009 hit Inglourious Basterds, although her scenes were cut from the final version we saw in theatres. Tarantino called her in Cannes to let her know that his film was already clocking at over 150 minutes, leaving little room for any footage not central to the story. She is pretty much in retirement mode now as an actress.
American fashion house Rodarte previously collaborated on a collection with Target and known most for its deconstructed/gothic looks. It has teamed up with upscale Hong Kong fashion retailer JOYCE, Swarovski Elements and Cheung herself to create a one-time only collection for UNICEF. Each piece was featured recently at a private silent auction/exhibit as one-of-a-kind pieces and together they raised over $500k HK (approximately $100k CAN/US) for the cause.
To view some of the inspired designs, versus the originals she wore in her acclaimed films, look below. The first piece is inspired by her costume in Zhang Yimou's Hero and the second piece is modeled after the famous Qi Pao dress she wore in Wong Kar Wai's In the Mood for Love.