Although I wouldn’t say I’m highly accomplished, in any area in life, I have a few feathers in my cap professionally.
But here in China I’d be completely wasting my breath evening bringing them up – because none of them could top the fantastical stories I hear here. And not only that, but I am beginning to doubt anyone would understand, being that we are from different planets and all.
Case in point. I was talking to my boss (ok, I was sort of using the example in a secretly boastful way – but I did have a point to make) about some of my previous work and the kudos I had received, and telling him the how and why. ie, that my work was selected because of xyz quality, good design blah blah, and that that is why we should be aiming for that…(like he should need to be told – but! we are in China people….). But he immediately responded by pointing out that I had paid to have my work to be in the position to be selected.
Well, yeah. I did. I paid a PR agent and they showcased my work, a magazine selected it and featured it. I mean, Vogue (it wasn’t Vogue) fashion editors don’t wander around shops asking to borrow things. They visit a press office, get served a nice cup of coffee and then choose from what is presented. Or they get sent images and select some. I was hired in part because I had experience working with a PR agency so I know a bit of the ins and outs of dealing with that side of things. (Of course, now I’ve found out that there is no budget for any of that, therefore that side of things is going untended). I didn’t bother to mention the blood, sweat and tears that went in to paying the agency in the first place. I knew it was a lost cause.He then proceeded to tell me that in China, that is not how it is done. Here, you can simply pay for whatever you want. That is if you are willing to spend the money, have the money, and apparently having good guanxi also helps, not just the $$…
What the above was intending to illustrate is that I’ve done some work I’m pretty proud of, that I so far have not bothered to tell anyone here about.
Last week my boss told me that a colleague had lied to me about one of ‘her’ projects being well received by a big client. According to him, it wasn’t her work, she had appropriated it from another designer here in another department, who was now very pissed off. Without even beginning to explore why my boss would tell me this (as it was gossip, plain and simple ), it made me realise that I may as well never bother getting close to anyone here. And I also may as well never bother to describe to anyone my accomplishments (not that anyone has ever asked). Because they would either 1. Find some reason to be pissed off about it (if you lived here, you’ll probably be familiar with this – for everyone else, sorry but I don’t know why this is either, I just know that it’s one possible scenario) or 2. Think I was lying.
I have no idea what the people I work with think of me. If they are anything like one of the first Chinese people I ever befriended here – they probably think I’m not really a ‘fashion designer’, due to my tendency to dress down quite frequently at work. According to this Chinese girl I made friends with back in the day I ‘don’t dress like one’. I’m not sure what she was expecting…. orange hair and a basque a la Vivienne Westwood, perhaps? At any rate, there is no way in hell the people at work think I am glamorous enough for this job. I know that in my bones, because I”m starting to get an idea of how they think…
And considering that we have a member of staff here that everyone (even my boss) refers to as K**, from Gucci (extremely derisively, as NO ONE believes it…) there is no way they look at me wearing tights, a sweater and uggs to work and think anything other than…who is this ugly, sloppy foreigner and why is she getting xyz? Let alone believe me if I told them about my past experience and successes.
So, as much as I might get the urge every now and again when I see someone here reading a an issue of G****a to say ‘My line was in G****a a few times’, I’m just not going to bother.