Winning style

Winning style
PHOTO: Reuters

Ms Peng Liyuan, wife of Chinese President Xi Jinping, touched down in Seattle, Washington, last Tuesday for a week-long state visit.

The couple have been married for 28 years and have a 23-year-old daughter, Ms Xi Mingze, a Harvard graduate who studied psychology and English. Ms Peng was born in Shandong and rose to fame as a folk singer.

While her husband was busy with political talks, she visited the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre in Seattle and the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington.

While the media frequently compares Ms Peng's wardrobe to that of Mrs Michelle Obama, First Lady of the United States, Ms Peng's style is the more formal and conservative of the two.

She incorporates Chinese design details into her outfits, occasionally donning a cheongsam or mandarin collar. Most of the time, though, the 53-year-old wears sharply tailored blazers over feminine dresses in neutral colours and patterns for official state events.

Accessories and embellishments are kept to a minimum, although she is partial to a pair of pearl earrings, which she shows off by sweeping her hair into an elegant bouffant. Ms Peng, who appeared in Vanity Fair's International Best-Dressed List two years ago, particularly likes to highlight her waist with figure-hugging blazers or by belting up over her jackets.

And unlike the more fashion-forward Mrs Obama, Ms Peng rarely discloses the brands or labels she wears.

Nevertheless, she has earned a reputation for being stylish, thanks to her outfits by reclusive Chinese designer Ma Ke.

On the other hand, Mrs Obama has been spotted wearing gowns by designers such as Jason Wu and Vera Wang on numerous occasions. She wore a sexy black fitted off-shoulder gown with a tulle flounce by Wang for the White House state dinner last Friday. At the same dinner, Ms Peng chose to cover up in a long-sleeved teal-blue gown.

The South China Morning Post declared Ms Peng had "turn(ed) on the style" for the dinner, while Mrs Obama's gown "stole the show", according to New York magazine's fashion and style section The Cut.

Not to be outdone by her American counterpart, the Chinese First Lady was a picture of elegance during her US trip with her power uniform of skirt suits and ramrod-straight posture.

This article was first published on September 28, 2015.
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