Touted by L'Officiel — one of the leading authorities in fashion — as the next Chinese actress to watch, Ni Ni is riding high. And with good reason. Her sartorial validation is a long time coming — for this 29-year-old Chinese actress has a physique that designers clamour for, and apparent since her debut in 2011's Flowers of War, she's got one of the rarest faces in the entertainment industry.
But mere superficiality aside, Ni Ni also has the acting chops to back up her clout — bagging countless trophies in her native China; like Best Newcomer at the Asian Film Awards, as well as Most Popular Actress at the Chinese Film Awards, and Best Actress at the Shanghai Film Critics Awards. Here are three quick reasons why you should fall in love with the Chinese actress.
1. She looks stunning in a qipao
If you think it's not reason enough to adore the Chinese actress, then you are clearly mistaken. While, we dare say, the most iconic Chinese invention since the dawn of the 20th century flatters every shape — with its clever darting and construction, no one wears it quick like Ni Ni in Zhang Yimou's Flowers of War (2011).
Set during the Nanjing Massacre in China, the film fictionalises the trials and tribulations of a group of thirteen wandering prostitutes seeking shelter during World War II — with Ni Ni as the self-sacrificing female protagonist of the story Yu Mo, opposite the dashing con artist made good John Miller, played by Christian Bale.
The way the article of Chinese clothing is fitted onto her, and the way her body moves in it, is just pure magic. From the brazen take on her costume's colour palette of deep reds, and vivid greens and turquoises that contrasted her crimson lips, to the high collars, and to how her hair is coiffed into deep Marcel waves; so evocative of the tumultuous time.
Look, say if the qipao is the national costume of China, then Ni Ni is the Republic's undisputed physical embodiment of pride. You really have to watch the film to believe it.
2. Her latest drama: The Rise of Phoenixes
Ni Ni's body of work speaks for itself, with a number of stellar performances on the big screens since her debut in 2011, such as Bride Wars and, more notably, Suddenly Seventeen. But her latest offering on the small screen is a total nail-biting saga that will leave you at the edge of your seat.
The Rise of Phoenixes is an epic period drama set in feudal China where fictional warring states fight to the bitter bloody end for ruling power. In it, Ni Ni plays the last surviving royal of a fallen dynasty; who cross-dresses to infiltrate the inner sanctums of the palace, and avenges her family's death.
Expect lots of palace intrigue, duplicitous courtiers and scheming members of royalty. But above all, brace yourself for the sartorial splendour of the Middle Kingdom — as billowing sweeping robes, and intricately adorned, gravity defying hairstyles steal the show. Kingdoms may fall, men may come and go, but glamour is eternal, you guys!
3. Ni Ni, the Brand Magnet
While it is being reported by L'Officiel USA that Ni Ni is, "…a name that outside of China, still cause some to pause," the Chinese actress's reputation gained worldwide recognition when she acted in the martial arts flick The Warrior's Gate — where she, again, played the lead to much aplomb.
And it was in this exact fashion that her meteoric rise to fame truly began, because soon after the film was released, she was tapped by the famed Italian House of Gucci to be the spokeswoman for their spring/summer 2017 eyewear campaign. She then went on to be the face of Japanese skincare brand SK-II, and was last seen traipsing down Fifth Avenue to Moon River, with the eternally ethereal Elle Fanning; painting the Big Apple blue for a Tiffany & Co. television commercial.
But Ni Ni's ability to attract so much brand deals should come as no surprise since the Chinese actress embodies all the physical hallmarks of traditional Chinese definitions of beauty (and grace) — as she constantly translates her flawless alabaster skin, lustrous raven locks, and radiant smile; that are so synonymous with classic Chinese perfection — in the 21st century.