73-Year-Old Chinese Fashion Icon: Fame Is 'Nerve-Wracking'

By Tongfei Zhang, December 19, 2016

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201612/thats-year-review-logo-mini.pngFor many in the West, 2016 will be remembered for Trump, Brexit, terrorism in Europe and an absurd number of pop culture deaths, from Bowie to Muhammad Ali. By comparison, China had an unusually quiet year. Nonetheless, there were still a few goings-on in the world's most populous country. 

In our 2016 Year in Review series, we recap the best (and worst) of China's year in the worlds of technology, social media, sport, fashion, food, arts and more.

At the tender age of 73, Huang Yanzhen mesmerized Chinese netizens after she posed in black leather with a Harley Davidson. Huang has since been invited to appear on TV and at Xiamen International Fashion Week. Here, she tells us how 2016 changed her life.

On being a wanghong (internet sensation)…
I was traveling when the photos went viral, and when I returned I was surprised to find out how popular they’d become. It was a bit nerve-wracking at first. But I’m happy to have received so much positive feedback from people saying how deeply moved they were by the photos, and how I’ve become an inspiration to them. My life is a lot busier now, as many media outlets want to talk to me. But I’m glad it hasn’t affected my daily life and family too much. 

On what fashion means to her…
I think fashion has a much broader meaning than just what you wear. It’s about maintaining a young state of mind. 

READ MORE: Netizens Love Chongqing's 80-Year-Old Fashion Icon

On Chinese designers…
China’s rich culture and history make the country’s fashion unique. We see Western designers using more and more Chinese elements in their work now. We used to say foreign designers are better or whatnot, but I think Chinese designers are making their marks in the industry now too.

On her fashion icon…
Peng Liyuan [President Xi Jinping’s wife]. She’s elegant and has a heart for social welfare. That’s what a true fashion icon should be. 

On xiaoxianrou (boyish pop stars) and Korean pop culture…
I don’t like xiaoxianrou because there's no substance to their performances. Korean pop culture is not to my liking either because of cultural differences; I prefer watching news and Chinese soap operas.

For more 2016 Year in Review coverage, click here.

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