CHOOSING an Asian face seems the natural progression for prestigious brand Emporio Armani, as it continues to build on its appeal in the Asian market. For the coming fall/winter collection, the brand has selected Chinese actress Shu Qi to be the fashion house's testimonial in China, Singapore and Malaysia.
Replacing fellow Chinese actress Zhang Zi Yi (who was last season's ambassador), Shu Qi gives a different unequivocal edge and explicit style to Emporio Armani's latest collection. Before Zhang, Takeshi Kaneshiro was the first Asian male face to appear in an Emporio Armani advertising campaign for its spring/summer 2009 collection.
The advertising campaign featuring Shu Qi, which was shot on Madison Avenue in New York by world-renowned photographer Mario Sorrenti, rolled out last month in fashion and lifestyle magazines.
Sorrenti feels that Emporio Armani picked the right candidate to parade the brand's sexy, versatile and beautiful range of clothes. This is apparent when browsing through her various campaign shots and the behind-the-scenes video posted on youtube.
The 34-year-old sultry superstar, who has been mesmerising fans since her breakthrough performance in Hou Hsiao Hsien's Millenium Mambo in 2001, has always been a fan of the brand and feels "great pleasure and honour" to be endorsing the label.
"I have always been a great fan of Mr Armani, not only of his accomplishment in fashion but I very much respect his continuous support to the film industry.
"I love their (Emporio Armani's) precious fabric and perfect cutting. I've got many Armani clothes in my wardrobe," she tells StarTwo in an exclusive e-mail interview.
Born in Taipei as Lin Li-Hui on April 16, 1976, Shu Qi certainly has come a long way since her first endorsement for jewellery brand Mauboussin (Asia) in 2005.
Her other notable endorsements include Kenzo Flower perfume, watch brand Frederique Constant, Red Earth and Lux.
As an actress, Shu Qi's stardom would have easily been fast-tracked, had it not been for her then manager Manfred Wong's decision to pull her out of Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon six weeks into its shooting for a Coca Cola commercial in Japan. (The role then went to Zhang Zi Yi.)
It was definitely the break the star needed to dispel her reputation as an actress in B-grade films.
That lost opportunity is something she doesn't wish to speak about anymore but the multi-talented Shu Qi still has plenty to shout about.
She has a stellar list of prominent Chinese and Hollywood movies to her name.
With her triple roles in Three Times, the Cannes-nominated film directed by the legendary Hou Hsiao-Hsien, Shu Qi received much accreditation including being Best Actress at the 42nd Golden Horse Awards in 2005. She was invited to be a member of the jury at Berlinale, the Berlin International Film Festival in 2008, and to be a part of the eight-member jury panel at the 62nd Cannes International Film Festival in 2009.
Her credits include playing the female lead opposite Eason Chan and Leon Lai in City of Glass (1998) and Jackie Chan in Gorgeous (1999), starring alongside rugged Jason Statham in Transporter in 2002, being a part of New York, I Love You cast (with Natalie Portman, Ethan Hawke, Shia LaBeouf, Bradley Cooper and Maggie Q) in 2009, and now sharing the silver screen with Donnie Yen in Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen.
Despite missing out on Ang Lee's award-winning movie, Shu Qi caught the attention of Emporio Armani.
This endorsement will undoubtedly propel and expose Shu Qi to new fashion heights. She believes this to be an excellent partnership because her image "is somewhat matched with the brand's, and I'm captivated by the impeccable style and sophistication."
To her, Emporio Armani is a "fashionable and modern brand" and she definitely loves this season's collection. "It possesses a cosmopolitan mood that is conveyed through the interplay of line and colour," describes Shu Qi.