It is no surprise that after Michelle Obama wore a dress by designer Jason Wu for her husbands presidential inauguration, the designer’s label became a household name. The imitation of celebrities’ fashion choices by the public is nothing new- in China or anywhere else- but the celebrity influncers are changing. No longer is it soley actors and singers that are leading the style movement, but artists, technology entruprenuers and most recently politicians are making waves in the fashion world.


Peng Liyuan, China’s new first lady, is glamorous, fashionable and one of her nation’s best-known singers. Since March 22, when she appeared at a Moscow airport arm in arm with her smiling husband on his first international trip as China’s new head of state, talk of her has spread across newspapers and blogs. Peng Liyuan is taking on a new role of style influencer and ambassador for Chinese fashion brands. Especially as compared with her fashion conservative predecessors, Peng is a vision of modern Chinese times, and modern Chinese people seem to be embracing her.


Fashion bloggers identified the leather handbag Peng Liyuan carried for her arrival in Moscow and the double-breasted black trench coat she wore as items designed by Guangzhou-based label Exception. The brand has been described as one of China’s leading independent labels whose simple but unique designs stand out in an industry dominated by Western copycats.  


“First ladies are ambassadors of the culture and the design and of the soft power of a country. I’m glad that she chose to wear Chinese brands and take up that role of spokesperson for Chinese design here,” said Hong Huang, publisher of the fashion magazine iLook and one of the most popular microbloggers in China.