Chi­nese Artist Yi Zhou Sets Sights on L.A.

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After work­ing with fash­ion brands across the globe, the in­flu­encer has launched her own brand and is ready­ing her first fea­ture.

BY MARCY ME­D­INA PHO­TO­GRAPH BY DAN DOPERALSKI

Chi­nese mul­ti­me­dia artist and model Yi Zhou has al­ready con­quered Rome, Paris and Shang­hai — and L. A. is next on her list.

Zhou, who was born in Shang­hai and grew up in Rome (her fa­ther is a suc­cess­ful Chi­nese busi­ness­man), made a name for her­self in Paris more than a decade ago mak­ing sur­re­al­ist shorts with ti­tles like “The Dream,” “Hol­low­ness,” and “My Heart Laid Bare,” the lat­ter of which starred and was cowrit­ten by Char­lotte Gains­bourg. She has also cre­ated pub­lic artworks in Florence’s Palazzo Vec­chio and Paris’ Place Vendôme and has been com­mis­sioned by Per­sol, Ho­gan and Diane von Fursten­berg to cre­ate short films and video in­stal­la­tions.

Upon mov­ing back to Shang­hai in 2010, she gar­nered at­ten­tion as a fash­ion in­flu­encer, de­sign­ing cap­sules for brands such as Ice­berg, and was named art di­rec­tor of Tu­dou (the Chi­nese ver­sion of YouTube) and am­bas­sador for Sina.com (which owns Weibo, the Chi­nese ver­sion of Twit­ter). “I was seen as an ‘ex­otic’ fig­ure hav­ing grown up in Europe, so I had a lot of pro­mo­tion in the me­dia,” she noted. Along the way, her work was se­lected mul­ti­ple times for the Sun­dance and Cannes film fes­ti­vals as well as at the Venice and Shang­hai bi­en­nales.

“I started to feel like I’d ex­hausted my wel­come,” she said of the fes­ti­val cir­cuit. “The se­cond time I went to Cannes they said, ‘ You’re not go­ing to come back un­til you have a fea­ture.” She be­gan writ­ing one, called “Stars and Scars” in 2014, but “be­ing in China I was too close to the sub­ject of the movie which is to be set in Shang­hai. Be­ing there ev­ery day I couldn’t see any­thing clearly any­more.” She has since rewrit­ten the script to in­clude more Amer­i­can char­ac­ters.

“I think mak­ing an Amer­i­canChi­nese co­pro­duc­tion will set a prece­dent for fe­male film­mak­ers and that they will be very much the fu­ture, be­cause there is so much in­ter­est from China to be able to in­vest in Hol­ly­wood,” she said.

Her pro­duc­tion com­pany Into the Sun En­ter­tain­ment, aims not only to pro­mote the work of Chi­nese artists in Hol­ly­wood but to also help fash­ion brands bridge en­ter­tain­ment and mar­ket­ing in the two coun­tries. “I never stud­ied mar­ket­ing but I am a good ob­server,” said

Zhou, who stud­ied at the Lon­don School of Eco­nom­ics and the Amer­i­can Univer­sity of Paris.

After sign­ing with En­deavor and tak­ing more meet­ings in L. A., she de­cided to make the city her new per­ma­nent home.

“As vain as L. A. might be, there are a lot of peo­ple who work really hard. It’s a very com­pet­i­tive en­vi­ron­ment in China but I think here it’s even more com­pet­i­tive. I have to get up and fight ev­ery day, which is a good feel­ing,” she said.

Her lat­est project is a cloth­ing line called Global In­tu­ition that made its de­but in Fred Se­gal. “I do mostly the busi­ness as­pect be­cause I’m not a de­signer,” she said, not­ing that Global In­tu­ition has both Ba­sic and Clas­sic ranges and that a higher-end Her­itage range will launch next year with cap­sule col­lec­tions for Hô­tel de Cril­lon and David Lynch.

“His film­mak­ing is such an in­spi­ra­tion to me,” she said. “I really like his de­tails and the idea of the dream se­quence and the way cer­tain ac­tors reap­pear years later. I think things hap­pen for a rea­son. My line is Fred

Se­gal be­cause I walked by this cool store one day, not know­ing what it was, and John Fri­er­son (pres­i­dent of Fred Se­gal) was stand­ing out­side and we met by ac­ci­dent. But in re­al­ity, noth­ing is a co­in­ci­dence.”

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