In January 2018, Liu Haoran was the only mainland Chinese celebrity invited by Louis Vuitton to attend their F/W18 show and it was also his very first visit to Paris – as a result, GQ Fashion asked him to share his thoughts on the experience via a photo diary of sorts. (This would be his first trip to the LV show – he also went five months later in June 2018).
The first and last parts of this article are written by the GQ writer, but the rest is a transcript of Liu Haoran’s oral account. We used the pictures from the original article as most of them were taken by Liu Haoran himself for this specific article (he’s a budding photographer). Don’t be alarmed by what he says at the end, haha.
(Original article posted 1.28.18)
The first time we meet Liu Haoran, he is just coming out of the bathroom of his hotel room, and greets us in a relaxed manner, “Oh hi, you’re here. Please sit wherever.” So we just casually sit cross-legged on the bed, and chat about his Paris experience. His nightstand is covered with cold medicine and packets of powdered Vitamin C supplements.
Celebrities being invited by brands to attend Fashion Week are becoming more and more common at an international level. This time, Louis Vuitton invited Liu Haoran to attend the show after considering several different factors. But the primary reason is because they believe that Liu Hao Ran is different from the other young male celebrities in the industry who have looks and nothing else. “He is a serious actor with representative works and deep thoughts.”
Today, we wanted Liu Haoran to play editor for a day. Using his own photos, he shares his thoughts on everything he saw in Paris. Through the video below (video is at the bottom of this post), you can travel with him to Montmartre, the place where Parisian artists gathered, and take a stroll with him on one of Paris’ most well known streets (Rue des Martyrs).
This is my first time in Paris, and lucky for me, I developed a 38 degrees (Celsius) fever right after I stepped down from the plane.
My impression of Paris has always been that it’s a city that experiences a lot of rain and has high humidity. Sunny days are rare, and there’s usually a thin amount of cloud coverage. After arriving in Paris due to Louis Vuitton’s invitation to attend their show for Paris Fashion Week, I discovered my impressions were correct as it’s been raining every day.
The strange thing is, Parisians don’t seem to really use umbrellas, which has often caused me to make wrong predictions about the weather. When I look outside my window, I think it’s merely cloudy, and it’s only when I get downstairs and find myself instantly drenched that I realize it’s raining.
I like this kind of weather. A romantic city with a mysterious atmosphere wouldn’t be bright and sunny (all the time).
Before coming to Paris, I didn’t expect to have any time to explore the city. I would have been satisfied just seeing the Eiffel Tower. But before work began, I found some time and rushed off to the Chateau de Versailles, which is pretty far from the city’s center. I was originally planning on visiting The Louvre, but it just happened to be a Tuesday so it was closed.
Because I had just recently visited the Met (the Metropolitan Museum of Art) in New York, I did not find myself blown away by the Chateau de Versailles as I found them to be a bit similar. It’s also probably due to the fact that I was sick and finished the tour of the palace in a dizzy, dazed state. I looked at the sculptures and the art, all the while being a little alarmed by my physical condition.
On the way back to the hotel, as I was drifting off, I suddenly saw a rainbow.
Fashion Week was even busier than I had imagined as there were numerous fittings, photoshoots, and filming for short videos, as well as the show itself – everything was crammed into a span of three days. After the final shoot, I am scheduled to fly back to China and return to the set of Novoland to resume filming. But in comparison to the ten plus hours of filming (daily) that I’ve been doing in China, this trip has felt like a vacation.
The streets of Paris are beautiful. While Beijing has kept some of its more historic neighborhoods, most of the city is dominated by newer skyscrapers. Paris doesn’t seem to have a lot of really new, really tall structures. Most of the architecture has been preserved from the 18th and 19th centuries, and the buildings usually have less than six floors.
If, in the future, I had time to take a stroll in the streets of Paris, and spend every day eating, walking, and taking pictures, I would probably fall in love with this city. Right now, I’m still not quite used to the cuisine.
On a previous trip to Nice and Cannes, I lost my mind after eating one meal. If I remember correctly, that one meal was from noon to four o’clock in the afternoon. The time between courses was enough for me to finish reading a novel. My thought at the time was that the waiter had to wait until everyone was done with a course, and once he cleared off those plates, that was when the next course would begin to be prepped. Of course, there’s also the possibility that they ran out of plates.
Because I didn’t have anything to eat (while waiting), I just kept eating bread with olive oil. And because I kept stuffing my face with bread, I ended up being really full, and didn’t actually get to eat much of the actual meal.
So on this trip to Paris, I have avoided French cuisine, and have actually had three meals of Yunan (Chinese) food, which kind of tasted like Sichuan food, probably due to the humidity. I also had a meal of Japanese cuisine, which actually turned out to be run by Chinese people, and one meal of Italian food.
The people who walk the streets of Paris are very fashionable, and they dress very freely. Fur is very popular, and even the older population will wear high heels as they walk their dogs. This type of scene is commonly seen in films.
On the streets of Beijing, it’s rare to see people really dressed up or in fashion that stands out – for example, wearing bright red or bright green clothing, or having hair dyed in different colors. And that’s what I admire about Paris – people won’t take a second glance at someone else just because they’re dressed differently. If it was in Beijing, people would already be taking pictures.
In cities like New York and Paris, where people are more accepting, you can be you, and I can be me. We don’t try to influence each other.
I also really like that the streets of Paris have a lot of Shiba Inus. There was one day when I went to visit the Louis Vuitton store, and from faraway, I could see that someone entered the store while holding a shiba. If you saw this in China, you might wonder why someone would bring the dog into the store. Shouldn’t they leave the dog in the car or have it leashed outside? But here, no one will bat an eyelash, and you will feel that it’s very natural and pleasant – like this is how life should be.
But if you were to ask me to move here, that probably wouldn’t be a good idea. Firstly, when it comes to the romantic French language, I’m still very green. I would need to first ensure that I become fluent in English and French in order to live here comfortably.
But more importantly, I am considered underage right now in most countries. When I go to restaurants with other people, I am always ID’d and am unable to drink. I remember when I got sick in New York, I had to see a pediatrician because you are only considered an adult at 21.
T/N: China’s legal drinking age is technically 18, but it’s basically not enforced at all. You legally become an adult at 18.
It’s not as easy to shop in Paris as I thought it would be. When you bring up Paris, everyone will tell you to go visit the Galeries Lafayette, that you can buy anything and everything there. But my goodness, after I went, I felt like it was like Joy City (a big shopping center in Shanghai)!
I ended up only buying a wool blanket, to use for naps on set between filming. Most importantly, it was half the price of the ones sold in China.
The people in the fashion industry are different – they all dress beautifully, and it’s clear that they truly love fashion. When I was at the Louis Vuitton show yesterday, it was very hot inside, but people wore thick layers of clothing.
They had fur coats on, with heavy scarves, all the while looking very at ease and continuously saying, “Look at me, look at me.” At the end of the show, when everyone stood up in a standing ovation, I realized that everyone there truly loved and appreciated the beauty of fashion.
As I grow up, I have had more and more interactions with the fashion world due to work, and have began to fall in love with it as well. I have realized that fashion is something that actors must become familiar with, and it has also occurred to me that at their core, fashion and acting are quite similar.
It’s just a different form of artistic expression. Just like how each fashion collection is inspired by a designer’s background and their experiences, each role that an actor takes on will also have hints of their own personal life experiences and shadows of their own true nature. From an actor’s performance, you can get an idea of the person that he is, just like how you can understand a designer’s inner thoughts, personality, and his/her’s artistic signature through their new collection.
This season’s Louis Vuitton collection is artistic director Kim Jones’ last one (with LV), so there was a lot of thought put into it. The entire floor had this collection’s signature pattern, and when we entered, the crew had covered the floor with cloth to prevent it from getting dirty. Once the show started, they diligently rolled away the cloth.
The new Louis Vuitton collection’s design and intricate details left a lasting impression on me, because it was inspired by aerial images of Kenya. Before the show, everyone received an album with a different theme. Some had aerial imagery of the mountainous regions, and others were of the rivers, of the forests.
The one I got was of the river region, but I wanted a copy of each. When the show ended, and everyone left, there were crew members cleaning up the copies of the albums left behind. I hurriedly said, “Wait, wait,” and picked up a few to complete my collection, which I shared on Instagram. Looking back, I can’t help but laugh at my actions.
The short film that I filmed for GQ gave me one last opportunity to tour Paris. The filming location was in Montmartre, and if you keep going up the hill, traveling along the Rue des Martyrs, you would arrive at the Sacré-Cœur (the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris) which sits at the summit. When you start heading down and take a turn, you’ll arrive at the Moulin Rouge (cabaret).
They (GQ) say that there are very few tourists here, that it’s a section of Paris that truly belongs to the locals. A lot of famous artists have stayed here before, like Spanish artist Salvador Dali, Italian artist Amedeo Modigliani, Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, Vincent van Gogh, etc. Do you know why I believed GQ (about the lack of tourists)? Because there are no Chinese restaurants here…I used my phone to search and the closest one was about twenty minutes by car.
At nine o’clock in the morning, when most of the stores haven’t even opened yet, the fruit, seafood, cheese, bread, and fried chicken shops are already super busy. Oh, the florists as well. For Parisians, if they don’t have fresh flowers, it would be like having to live life without the joys of drinking and dancing.
Along the way, I saw a lot of interesting people and occurrences: a teacher crossing the street with a class of preschoolers in tow; a mom holding hands with her child, and her husband on the other side holding their dog on a leash; a homeless man suddenly yelling at the entrance of a bank; the early morning trucks arriving to make their deliveries; the fashionable businessmen and women holding coffee cups without lids; and the people who have been gathered by the cafes since early in the morning, basking in the warmth offered by the heaters overhead while enjoying a cigarette and watching the people who walked by.
The cups that they are holding probably contain wine. They (GQ) have brought me here because they want me to document what I see through the lens of my camera. And I think in the future, I can take more pictures like this.
The most fortunate thing was that it didn’t rain.
Paris Fashion Week has now ended. Recently, a lot of people who see me will ask, “Haoran, are you going anywhere fun for Chinese New Year’s?” I can only answer, “Probably just going to be on set.” It’s not like it’s the first year that I’ve celebrated New Year’s on the set of a production.
My plan for 2018 is to vanish. When Novoland wraps up filming, I’m not going to do anything. I want to rest. I’ve filmed The Founding of An Army, The Legend of the Demon Cat, Nirvana in Fire 2, Detective Chinatown, and Novoland: Eagle Flag pretty much one after another. It’s time for a break.
I want to disappear from the sight of everyone, and not tell anyone where I’m going, so that no one can contact me. Maybe I’ll go traveling, and only return when I feel like coming back.
After all, as someone who lives on production sets, I already have a nomadic lifestyle.
(Back to GQ writer)
On the invitation of Louis Vuitton, this is Liu Haoran’s first time in Paris. Though the weather is pretty typical for Paris’ winter season – rainy and cloudy, it hasn’t stopped his curiosity and desire to explore the city. On the same day as the Louis Vuitton show, Liu Haoran took up his camera and led the GQ team to capture the interesting sides of Paris in winter. He recently just held his own photo exhibition in Bejing, and has a high degree of interest in Paris.
Even though he’s had a fever the past few days, he has tried to be as energetic as possible and chatted with the GQ team the whole way. He wanted to experience the thrills of exploring an unfamiliar city and encounter interesting people and events, and ended up documenting the beautiful memories of Paris through the lens of his camera.