He's no stranger to the world of fashion — Lay Zhang is a bona fide fashion star, on top of his day job as one of the most recognisable faces in the music industry.
The member of K-pop boy band EXO, who has since gone on to pursue a solo career in China as well, turned heads earlier this year when he made his debut on the Met Gala red carpet, so it's no wonder that Swedish fashion brand H&M would tap the sophisticated sartorialist to work together on a special project celebrating their collaboration with Chinese designer, Angel Chen.
The design collaboration between Angel Chen and H&M is groundbreaking in that it directly involves a Chinese designer for the first time in the company's history. Chen drew on Chinese Kung Fu as a source of inspiration and incorporated bold embroidery designs of dragons and cranes, as well as contemporary takes on the traditional Chinese martial art genre.
That being said, it is natural that it would be a project that is close to Lay's heart as a proud Chinese national.
He said in a statement, "This is the first time H&M is launching a collection together with a Chinese designer. I hope that everyone can pay more attention to the works and talent of Chinese designers through this collaboration!"
E! Asia talks exclusively with the Chinese K-pop star about his top picks from the Angel Chen x H&M collaboration, personal style and future plans, below.
E! Asia: This is the first H&M collaboration with a Chinese designer. Do you feel this is significant? Why?
Lay: It is definitely an exciting collaboration and a great opportunity to promote Chinese culture to a bigger audience. I'm really glad that H&M approached me for this campaign and I look forward to many more exciting collaborations in the future.
You're known for being a fashion chameleon who can rock different styles — which pieces will you be adding to your own wardrobe? There are also a lot of traditional Chinese motifs like the dragon, cranes and pine trees are used in this collection — which motif do you identify with?
L: My personal favourite will be the bomber jacket with dragon embroidery. I personally love bomber jackets as it suits my style and dragons are my favourite traditional Chinese motif. So the bomber jacket from the collection is my must-have item as it perfectly melds contemporary fashion with traditional art.
Bomber jacket, $299
Your stage style and off-duty style are so different yet complementary. Can you pick one piece that you would wear on-stage and one piece that you would wear casually?
L: I style my looks based on the occasion as well as the attitude I wish to portray. The dragon embroidered bomber jacket will be a piece that I will choose to wear on-stage. For my off-duty look, I will go for the hoodie and sweat pants.
What is one thing about the collection design that impressed you the most?
L: This is a really beautiful collection that encompasses a lot of Chinese aesthetics and I love the embroidery detail. It is a great avenue to showcase traditional Chinese culture and it's a collection not to be missed.
L: To me, every step is significant and important. I hope to constantly breakthrough and strive for improvement, and showcase better work to all my fans.
The Angel Chen x H&M collaboration will be available at H&M Orchard Building as well as on hm.com from 26 September.