Liu Yifei, Disney’s live-action Mulan, is gracing the cover of the January 2020 issue of Harper’s Bazaar China.
Liu was born in Wuhan and moved to New York City at age 10, before rising to international stardom after she was cast as the legendary warrior in 2017, a decision that was applauded by some and bemoaned by others. This will be her first major Hollywood film, having previously acted in numerous Chinese and American movies alongside Nicholas Cage, Rain, and Kris Wu.
Photos and a concept trailer were released on Harper’s Bazaar China’s Weibo and Instagram yesterday with the hashtag #刘亦菲芭莎木兰与我 (“Mulan and Me”).
According to the magazine, the concept is a “collision between modern-day fashion and the classic tale. Modern-day Mulan transcends time periods…she is a symbol of woman’s strength and growth.” Fans can also expect behind-the-scenes stories from Liu Yifei herself in the issue.
In the photos, Liu is portrayed as the ancient heroine in a series of visually stunning shots. The themes of ancient strength, beauty, and female ferocity are evident as the actress is shown riding a horse, caressing a loom, and generally looking badass.
The magazine was previously criticized for cultural appropriation after featuring Rihanna in their August cover wearing traditional Chinese clothing and makeup. While many Chinese netizens were full of praise for the Barbados-born singer, others were angry at Harper’s Bazaar for not featuring a Chinese artist to represent the “Eastern aesthetic.”
Rihanna’s Cover Shoot for Harper’s BAZAAR China: Cultural Appropriation or Appreciation?
Liu’s photoshoot, by contrast, draws heavily on the actress’ Chinese roots. The original poem that the movie is based on, Ballad of Mulan, dates as far back as the 6th century, and the cover concept emphasizes these traditional aspects amidst Liu’s modern retelling.
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