The front row of Gucci’s 2017 Cruise runway show, which was staged at the Cloisters of Westminster Abbey last month, was filled with celebrities. Kering chairman, François-Henri Pinault, was in attendance with his wife, actress Salma Hayek. Seated nearby was A$AP Rocky, Elle Fanning, Alexa Chung, Georgia May Jagger, and Monaco royal, Charlotte Casiraghi, among others. Also in attendance: 32-year old Li Yuchun, who is better known, in the West, at least, as Chris Lee.
Chris Lee, a Chinese pop singer and actress, who achieved fame when she won the nationwide singing contest, Super Girl, in China in 2005 and subsequently released something like 40 top singles, is one of the newest faces of Gucci. As one of the Florentine house’s brand ambassadors to Asia and the face of Gucci Timepieces and Jewelry, Lee is slated to star in two campaigns – the first of which launches in Asia this month – and attend an array of Gucci-brand events, such as its Cruise 2017 show. She will also be wearing a handful of Gucci costumes designed by creative director Alessandro Michele as part of her wardrobe for her forthcoming 2016 “Growing Wild” tour.
Speaking of her new role, Lee recently said: "I have been captivated by Alessandro Michele's collections since he became Creative Director, as they are so original and so joyful. I am very excited to be part of this new chapter for Gucci."
If this all sound somewhat familiar, it is because she had a similar relationship with LVMH-owned brand, Givenchy, until somewhat recently. As one of Givenchy’s ambassadors, Lee fronted the brand’s Autumn/Winter 2015 campaign, wore quite a bit of Givenchy for last year’s Cannes Film Festival earlier this year, and was dressed in no shortage of Givenchy couture stage costumes for her 2013 “Why Me” tour.
While she may not be the height of fame in the West, Lee is certainly a massive selling point in Asia. Tickets for her “Why Me” tour, for instance, sold out instantly. And her concert tickets are not the only thing in very real demand. In Asia, there is something of a Chris Lee effect; namely, almost everything she wears also sells out immediately. To put her level of fame in perspective, she has been said to have a fan base that outnumbers Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez combined, several times over.
According to BoF, Lee's "success has drawn a significant amount of interest from the commercial world, signing deals with the likes of Coca-Cola and L’Oreal Paris.” She has also appeared in a campaign for Tiffany & Co. – the video advertisement garnered roughly 500,000 views upon its debut on Chinese video site, Youku. The Chinese style also served as a brand ambassador for Italian design house, Versace, some time ago. Her appeal to these brands is not surprising, since the hottest accessory for brands right now is a celebrity with massive selling power. Moreover, her androgynous look has also been a source of appeal for many fashion houses.
As a brand ambassador of sorts for Gucci, Lee has been enlisted to support the design house in a number of capacitates. Aside from the ad campaigns, she is probably contractually obligated to wear a certain amount of Gucci garments to red carpet occasions. She is also in contract to appear at brand events, such as fashion shows, Asia-specific events (like the traveling Gucci Timepieces and Jewelry exhibit, which recently posted up in Xian City, China), and the opening of the any new Gucci Asia stores.
As Chinese demand for luxury goods continues to slow in reaction to the national anticorruption drive, decelerating economic growth and increasingly discerning shoppers, tapping coveted names like Lee to front ad campaigns and appear at Gucci events may be just what the brand needs to weather the storm.