Alumni Update | Issue Nine 2014

Profile

Angelica Cheung
Editor-in-Chief, Vogue China
MBA 2001

As founding editor of Vogue China, Angelica Cheung, has been described as one of the most powerful women in fashion in China. She built the magazine from scratch in 2005 and almost a decade later demand continues to grow, with a readership of more than 1.4 million for its monthly magazine and 400,789 for its quarterly Vogue Collections

Vogue China will celebrate its tenth anniversary in 2015 by publishing an extra four issues: a special anniversary edition and three regional editions.

Angelica Cheung
Born in Beijing, Ms Cheung began working in Hong Kong as a business owner and investment banker with Goldman Sachs before entering the media industry in 1994.

She got her start writing for a Hong Kong newspaper and worked her way up to jobs with Reuters, Radio Television Hong Kong, and the South China Morning Post. In 2001 she began a two-year stint as editor of Marie Claire Hong Kong, followed by another two years at Elle China.

Then in 2005 she was hand-picked to lead Vogue’s historic entry into the Chinese market.

“When Condé Nast first approached me about launching Vogue China, I had been the Editor-in-Chief of Elle China for about a year and was thinking about leaving the fashion industry and going to re-start my career in law. I had been working in media, first at newspapers and then at various magazines for several years and thought I had seen all that the industry had to offer. But then they asked me if I wanted to launch Vogue China, and I mean, it's Vogue - how could anybody say no?” says Ms Cheung.

Ms Cheung has a double degree in Law and English literature from Peking University and gained her MBA from the University of South Australia in 2001, which she says equipped her with a broad range of skills for magazine publishing.

“People think fashion can be a little up in the air, but running a magazine, no matter what the subject is about, requires a certain skill set that is a lot more logical than people think. I could probably leave Vogue and go on to run a magazine about finance or cars, or whatever. You're faced with endless choices all day long so you learn to make judgments quickly and to trust your instincts, and manage your team well,” says Ms Cheung.

Vogue franchises in each country develop their own character which is partly set by the vision of the Editor-in-Chief. Ms Cheung says becoming a mother was a transformative influence on her vision for the magazine.

“Giving birth to my daughter a few years ago completely shifted my perspective on this. Of course fashion and style are important, but it's imperative that we give a broader view. The legendary Vogue editor Diana Vreeland once said that it wasn't a new dress that was important, but the life you're living in that dress - and this is the idea of the Vogue woman that we aspire to. She cares about how she looks, but to her it's most important that her life is a well-rounded one, it's about having a career, a family and a positive outlook on life. That is the woman that Vogue China targets,” says Ms Cheung.

It is now almost a decade since Vogue China was established and during that time China has continued its rapid economic ascendancy.

“China's increasing prominence on the world stage is reflected in the burgeoning Chinese design industry. The new generation of designers have grown up with a more global outlook than any of their predecessors. They are exposed to western culture from a young age, often go to study at Parsons or Central St Martin's, and this helps them integrate more easily within the industry internationally. A lot of the designers working today move seamlessly between China and their bases abroad, they can produce half their collection in a Chinese factory and the other half in an Italian factory,” says Ms Cheung.

“I think previously people thought we had something to prove, that Chinese design had to exceed the notion of being 'made in China', but the new generation don't feel that as much. They don't feel defined by where they come from, they are very confident that their designs will speak for themselves,” she says.

Vogue China supports young Chinese designers through ‘Creative Sky’ — CCTV’s design-based reality show where fashion experts comment on the work of up-and-coming designers – and its global emerging designer talent scout program, 'The Vogue Talents Corner'. Ms Cheung is on the judging panel for the International Woolmark Prize, which also promotes designers who make innovative uses of Australian fine Merino wool.

When Ms Cheung was launching Vogue China nine years ago, CNN reported her as saying “one of the key elements I was determined to introduce was a regular column dedicated to promoting and supporting Chinese design talents. We were the first fashion magazine to do this on a regular basis, but it was not easy.”

Her magazine has been a launching pad for talent such as Uma Wang, Masha Ma and Huishan Zhang whose work features on the runways of Milan, Paris and London fashion week.

Ms Cheung predicts that Chinese designers “will become increasingly international and we will see much more talented young designers making their mark abroad.”

While visiting Sydney in April 2014 for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia she also predicted increasing opportunities for Australian fashion designers in China. The Sydney Morning Herald reported a deal has been signed with Chinese internet company Tencent to broadcast Australian fashion videos, interviews, stories and images to its 798 million users.

The future looks bright for Chinese fashion designers — and you can be sure that Vogue China’s pioneer Editor-in-Chief has played some part in the success of many among them.

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