“Join me later at Yongfoo élite,” she China tours texts me the night we are scheduled to meet. She apologizes that dinner’s gone late, explaining that she’s still out with friends but that they’re all headed for a nightcap and I should join. So I take a taxi through the dark, plane-tree–lined streets of the old French Concession and am delivered to the gate of a mansion that once served as the British consulate.
walk to the private bar in back and am about to introduce myself to her when a very familiar-looking man shakes my Yangtze River cruises hand avidly and asks me if I’d like some of his wine. Han Feng forgot to mention that her dinner companion was Jackie Chan. The actor and martial-arts legend holds court with a gang of his movie pals. Han Feng, it turns out, designed the wardrobe for his Karate Kid remake. My glass is refilled several times and Chan worries that I am not eating enough peanuts.
A few days later, Han Feng invites me to see her atelier at Grosvenor House, an elegant 1934 residential building now part of the Jin Jiang Hotel. As I enter the hotel’s gardens from the streets of the French Concession, the temperature seems to China business tours drop 10 degrees. The evening air turns sweet, the frantic pace of the city fades. Han Feng started her career in New York and was at first reluctant to move back to China. She tells me about a group of women who’d come in to shop earlier that day. They were businesswomen—publishers, restaurant owners, and TV writers.
What was interesting about this group, Han Feng said, wasn’t just their sophistication or willingness to spend but that they were specifically interested in a homegrown aesthetic rather than global brands. “One of the women said, ‘We never left China; China changed. We’ve tripled our salaries, we have better taste now, and we want to support Chinese designers.’ That wouldn’t have China business travel
happened five years ago.”
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