Style Profile - Eye Love Lu - Fashion Stylist
From grey days as a self confessed zombie accountant at a Chinese power plant, Shanghai based Fashion Stylist Lulu Mayfield aka “Eye Love Lu” tells Street Style Planet Earth about her determination to leave a life of monotony to winning a Condé Nast scholarship and styling celebrities in China's most vibrant city.
"I felt like shooting myself. I knew being an accountant was definitely not what I wanted to do for the rest of my life." Growing up in a traditional Chinese family, Lu's path was mapped out by her mother: university, accountancy and marrying the right kind of man. "I loved art and music since I was a kid but studying anything creative wasn't an option. Studying art, music or fashion in China is typically seen as the choice for kids who don't study hard and get poor grades."
After 3 long years at the Power Plant, in 2013 Lu broke with tradition, quitting her job and leaving for Shanghai with her savings to enrol in the prestigious Donghua University - one of China's top fashion schools.
Without really knowing what to expect from the 3 month course or what indeed a fashion stylist was, destiny led her to tutor Wan Fang who recognised Lu's potential as a stylist. “It was pretty hard for me not having the blessing and support of my family but I chased my dream and Wan Fang recognised potential in me. Looking back, I was pretty meticulous sketching every detail from the hairstyle, makeup, accessories, even nail colours.”
Feeling encouraged, Lu immediately looked for work in styling upon graduation. “I knew no one in fashion industry but luckily photography was a big big hobby so to survive, I started to take event photos for Smart Shanghai life style magazine. Things went quite well and I moved on to Look Book and Campaign shots for brands and Press & PR shots for musicians and artists.
“Throughout this I was doing makeup and styling on the side in the hope that I would find a full time stylists job. In 2015, I saw an ad for fashion stylist for Meters/Bonwe (A Chinese fast brand like ZARA and H&M) and within a week, I officially started my full time stylist job!
After a year of solid learning, I found out that the Condé Nast Fashion & Design Centre in Shanghai was offering a 3 month scholarship styling course. I applied and to my surprise I got the scholarship! So I quit my job and started on another new journey.”
Since completing the scholarship Lu successfully established her styling consultancy “Eye Love Lu” and has collaborated with numerous talents, brands, magazines and celebrities.
A testament to hard work, determination and having the courage to follow your own path, Lu’s positivity is infectious and encouraging, “There are so many possibilities if you are brave enough to try.” Street Style Planet Earth chatted with her about her path to success.
What have been some of your favourite styling jobs?
My most memorable were three of my own (non commercial) projects.
I was completely involved in each process from the beginning to the end, I did creative direction and styling spending almost everyday researching and getting inspiration from art, sport, music, movies, architecture, making proposals, searching for models, talents to collaborate with, locations, reaching out to brands, and sitting down with the retouch artist to discuss the post production. I submitted all three projects to fashion magazines, and they all get published, I was very happy!
What do you love most about styling?
Its a job that allows me to be very creative, and the variety leads to so many different possibilities especially when I do my own creative projects. The freedom to create and express my feelings and emotions using the language of fashion is incredible. It's like painting on a blank canvas, every stroke, every colour you choose creates a different visual effect and mood.
Any memorable moments?
I really enjoyed working with Jiangsi Da (姜思达) a Chinese celebrity who got famous several years ago. He was very open to the styling options I offered to him. When you work with someone who's willing to try different things it allows you to create freely and he outcome is often a pleasant surprise.
Who would be for dream person to style?
My mum. She was born in 60's, that was a horrible time during the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Everyone was required to be the same, dress the same, think the same, act the same, like robots. So when she was young, there was no fashion and no style - it was not allowed. So I really want to do a project called, “I Used to Have a Dream” and style my Mum as a singer on the stage with different glamorous looks.
Who do you think has good style?
It's hard to say one person as I think a lot of people know how to dress well and rock their own kind of style. With Social Media, people can get fashion information quickly, you can see fashion shows without even actually going to fashion weeks. Just by clicking on Instagram, you can get it all, just like when you go on SSPE, you can see all the street styles from all over the world, then you pick up tips and develop as your own style.
What are you main inspirations and influences in your approach to styling?
For commercial styling work with brands I get inspiration from all the fashion shows from fashion weeks and the latest fashion trends. When I do my own creative projects, I get inspiration and influence from fashion editorials from fashion magazines, music, movies, arts, culture, and social events.
I look at everything around me. I’m inspired by how people dress and not necessarily young people! I look at old people too, they have very interesting styles, you can see a man wearing pyjamas, black leather shoes with nylon socks, and carrying a woman’s snake skin bag, or a woman with a very old-school big hair wearing a super tight dress with big pants and sneakers! It's not like they are trying to be creative, they may just have no concept of fashion. For creative fashion editorial shoots, those quirky looks from the streets look wicked on models!
Shanghai is seen as the fashion capital of China and along with Seoul and Tokyo as one of the most important fashion cities in Asia. How have you seen fashion and style as well as people’s views and attitudes change over the last 10 years in Shanghai?
Since becoming a stylist, I’ve seen a big change. I remember years ago people liked to dress very dramatically with bad style during Shanghai Fashion Week just to draw people's attention - especially the street photographers hoping that their photos can be featured on blogs or magazines.
It still exists a little but generally young people dress with a more relaxed and carefree way. Very stylish, more interesting, and more creative, you can see a bit punk spirit in them, it's nothing crazy like Japanese street fashion, but compare to years ago, it's a big leap! I’m happy to see more bravery and bold attitude when it comes to styling themselves. What you wear stands for who you are!
Do you see any popular trends and fashions on the streets in Shanghai right now?
Streetwear is a global fashion trend with Shanghai no exception. People care about lifestyle more than before, they intend to eat healthy and live healthy. Outdoor sports & activities are poplar so wearing casual comfortable clothes and footwear has integrated fashion and lifestyle.
Do you have any secret places you like to check to find accessories and other props for styling work?
I usually source my stuff on Taobao, it's like Ebay or Amazon but with many more options and surprises. For a stylist, it's heaven, you can get all kinds of styling items with very reasonable prices. I also love to go vintage shops in LA for a treasure hunt! I could spend hours and hours there, it’s always so much fun!
What are some of your favourite hangouts in Shanghai?
My office, GH5 dance studio ( I've been practicing dance for the last year), Chongqing hotpot - it’s one of my favourite foods! And YunNan restaurants. Dada Club if I wanna go out and get a bit wild!
All photos by Al de Perez for Street Style Planet Earth
Shot on location in Shanghai, China.
Words & Photos by Al de Perez
For more great Alternative Youth Culture photography from around the world, Follow the Street Style Planet Earth Instagram Page.
If you have enjoyed this feature then be the first to find out about forthcoming features on Artists, Musicians, Creatives, & Fashion Industry Insiders from Models to Stylists from Korea, Japan, Taiwan & China as part of Street Style Planet Earth's "Asian Special" launch by Subscribing At The Bottom of The Page