Margaret Zhang, photographer, stylist, writer and creative director, Shine By Three
I love travelling and seeing how architecture, history and religion have shaped the way people dress in different parts of the world ...
In six short years, Margaret Zhang has taken the fashion world by storm. Starting her blog Shine By Three at the tender age of 16, Margaret shot to fame well outside of the realms of social media and the internet. Now in her early twenties, the Sydney local is a writer, photographer, stylist, model and creative director of her personal brand, and has worked with the likes of Louis Vuitton, Nike and UNIQLO, as well as publications including Harper’s BAZAAR, NYLON and Marie Claire. She spends much of her time travelling the world, but somehow still manages to juggle studying a Bachelor of Commerce/Bachelor of Laws at The University of Sydney. Margaret will be heading to Brisbane for James Street Resort on Saturday October 17, joining Lisa Gorman and Holly Ryan for the Resort Trailblazers – Australia is the Future of Fashion forum. We caught up with Margaret ahead of the event to chat inspiration, ideal weekends and Acne boots.
Shine By Three was originally intended to be a visual diary. What inspired you to create it?
I was learning to shoot on film during my ballet studying years, and had saved so many art photography references (a lot of Ansel Adams, Carlos Tarrats, Walter Chappell) that I needed a space to put them. Blogspot was the obvious choice at the time … I don’t think Tumblr even existed then.
You were only 16 when you started Shine By Three – what sparked your love of fashion and design? Ballet costuming and couture go hand-in-hand in terms of silhouetting and movement, so that’s where it started. Raf Simons and Viktor & Rolf were my number ones from quite early on.
Did you ever expect that it would have such an enormous global reach?
Not at all – I think one of the main reasons the whole thing has expanded to that global reach is because it was never a commercial venture. It was (and still is) just me, my opinions, my work and my laptop.
Where do you feel most comfortable, in front of the camera or behind it?
At the moment, I’m most enjoying being behind the camera (whether shooting, styling or art directing) just because there’s so much more room to move in producing beautiful work. In front of the camera, you tend to be quite limited in creative input. Having said that, I have worked on a lot of projects where I’ve been dashing between both sides – the ELLE Thailand cover I both shot and modelled in has just hit stands over there, which is a surreal thing to see.
Which three designers do you love most at the moment?
Nicolas Ghesquière, Raf Simons and Riccardo Tisci, for me, are visionaries. Australian designers I’m so proud to see doing well overseas include Dion Lee, Toni Maticevski and Michael Lo Sordo.
Shine By Three and your personal brand continue to grow, and you’re also completing your Bachelor of Commerce/Bachelor of Laws. What would you like to see yourself doing in the next five years?
I think I’ll spend some more time working overseas in the US and Europe before coming back to Australia and doing my PLT hours and taking College of Law.
Can you share with us the best wardrobe investment you’ve made?
Acne Jensen boots! I have literally worn them every second day for a year – they’re ridiculously comfortable for shoot days, uni and travel.
Describe your ideal weekend.
Tick everything off my to-do list. Which never happens.
You’re heading to Brisbane for James Street Resort on Saturday October 17, what are you most looking forward to while you’re here?
Brisbane has such an authentic art scene that I think Sydney lacks, so I’m excited to explore more of that. I have some dear friends in Brisbane too, so am looking forward to seeing them!
You’ll be joining Lisa Gorman and Holly Ryan for the Resort Trailblazers – Australia is the Future of Fashion forum. Can you give us a hint of what audiences can expect?
Australian designers have thrived in isolation, and bring some really innovative work to the international industry – it’s now just a matter of brand building, wise investment and honing production processes to become internationally competitive. We also produce such amazing photographic, styling and artistic talent, all of whom are doing incredibly well overseas. I’m excited to talk about the strategy behind building individual and fashion brands, and the power of the internet driving that.
Who or what inspires you?
I love travelling and seeing how architecture, history and religion have shaped the way people dress in different parts of the world.