Turning 56 this year, Gong Li is still very much a global fashion icon


Always a standout on the red carpet, age is certainly no barrier to Gong Li’s fixture as a fashion icon across the world. Photo: Cartier

For the past few years or so, fashion brands have been seen to increasingly favour Asian celebrities. Banking on their fame, it is a wise move to capture the attention of the huge consumer market on this side of the world.

While younger stars from the K-pop world and China’s film industry have been targetted, one particular name is back in the spotlight.

Gong Li, who is turning 56 this year, is proving that style can be timeless. The Chinese-born Singaporean actress was named as Cartier’s global ambassador just this week. She will front the luxury brand’s high-end jewellery collections, as well as collaborate on various events and appearances.

Arnaud Carrez, senior vice president and chief marketing officer for Cartier International, says he is thrilled for Gong Li’s appointment.

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“Her talent and determination have led to memorable works of cinema; her passion and free-spirited attitude strongly echo Cartier’s core values; she is an amazingly inspiring role model for all women in the world, across all generations,” Carrez said.

As Cartier’s ambassador, Gong Li will be joining the ranks of stars like Lily Collins, Ella Balinska, Maisie Williams and Willow Smith – of whom are, interestingly, a lot younger than she is.

Enduring global appeal

Gong Li caught the Western world’s attention when she appeared in the 2005 film Memoirs Of A Geisha, starring alongside Malaysia’s very own Tan Sri Michelle Yeoh.

She was already a big name before that though, having made a name for herself in Chinese films such as Red Sorghum (1987), Raise The Red Lantern (1991), The Story Of Qiu Ju (1992) and Farewell My Concubine (1993).

After a relatively quiet period in the 2000s onwards, she re-emerged two years ago with Saturday Fiction. This was followed by Leap and Disney’s blockbuster remake of Mulan.

Gong Li’s appearances on the red carpet have always caused quite the buzz. She is known to favour chic, glamorous designs with standout cuts and fierce embellishments – always timeless and beautiful, as she is.

At the 2021 Beijing International Film Festival last week, she wore a black sequined dress with a thigh-high split skirt. She served as the chairman of the international jury doling out the top award for "Best Feature Film" at the event.

Gong Li will be on the cover of Vogue China for this month, as well. The photoshoot is said to be inspired by the film 2001: A Space Odyssey by Stanley Kubrick – hence, the futuristic look and fashion.

Always a fashion darling

Gong Li has always been associated with fashion. She was the co-chairman of the Met Gala back in 2015, with the theme “China: Through The Looking Glass”.

When she walked the red carpet of the event, she dazzled in a Roberto Cavalli couture cheongsam. She was also decked out with glittering jewellery from Piaget, being the face of the brand back then.

While she has mostly kept a low profile in the entertainment industry, giving select and few interviews, Gong Li is often dressed by the biggest and most sought-after names in fashion for red carpet events.

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In 2019, she wore Ralph & Russo to the Cannes Film Festival. Gong Li’s evening gown for the 2018 Golden Horse Awards in Taipei was from Givenchy’s Spring/Summer 2019 collection.

She has also appeared in sumptuous outfits by Elie Saab, Louis Vuitton, Yves Saint Laurent and Valentino, to name a few.

With that kind of illustrious “fashion resume”, it is only safe to say that Gong Li has international appeal – beyond China, where she kickstarted her career, and not just in Asia either.

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