Sifan Shao and Michel Alarcon are both very passionate men. Their dedication
to art and style is evident in all that they do. Born in China, Shao spent his adolescence in
Paris, graduating from the Sorbonne with degrees in Economics and Management. He
later studied acting in the famous French drama school Cours Florent and began a career
as an actor before moving back to his native China and opening S.T.A.R.S., a cross
between an art gallery a clothing shop and a performance space.
Alarcon, a French native, had three passions in his life growing up: Science, fashion, and
Asia. After graduating with a PhD in Genetics and Animal Physiology from the University
of Montreal he moved back to Paris and began working as a sales associate and
merchandising assistant at the world-famous boutique Colette. This led to being named
Communications Manager for Givenchy in Tokyo
and, eventually, being hired as the fashion buyer at S.T.A.R.S.
Alarcon and Shao have opened a space that fuses the worlds of art, fashion and culture
seamlessly for one of the world’s most coveted emerging markets. They spoke with
Lereport about what inspires them, what they love most about Beijing and Paris, and
what has led them to work towards the integration of beauty on so many varied levels.
What are the things that you are fondest of in Beijing/Paris?
Michel Alarcon: In Beijing, I love the mix of tradition and modernity, the cocktail
bars hidden in the Hutong, the spontaneity of local people and,
of course, the amazing historic places. In Paris, I love going to the bakery next door
to buy fresh croissants in the morning and enjoying drinks
in the evening on a terrace with my friends.
Sifan Shao: In Beijing I love the Hutongs. The tower of the Forbidden City late
at night, sheep brochette and beer in the streets and malatang late at night.
In Paris, I love the smell of croissants early in the morning, people kissing
everywhere, La Seine and old bookstores on the riverbank. Fruit stalls,
chatting about politics, life, love and betrayal at coffee terrasses the whole day.
What was the biggest influence on you in your youth?
M. A.: Christian religion, my Spanish roots and Japanese cartoons.
S. S.: The school library in China where my mother used to work when
I was a kid, and my French teacher in high school when I was a teenager in Paris.
What is your current fashion obsession?
S. S.: Hats.
M. A.: Fancy shoes, printed pants, bling bling necklaces, and tattoos.
Who are your favorite designers?
S. S.: Yohji Yamamoto, Klasica.
M. A.: Comme des Garçons, Jeremy Scott and now I have an increasing interest in Korean designers.
What movies/actors do you love?
S. S.: The Pianist by Michael Haneke, Red Lanterns by Zhang Yimou,
Tony Leung, Isabelle Huppert, Meryl Streep, Gong Li.
M. A.: Blade Runner, Alien saga, Chungking Express. Sigourney Weaver and Maggie Cheung.
Who would you love to work, hang out, or collaborate with.
M. A.: I already work with a talented person, my boss Sifan Shao. I would love
to hang out with Kesha to mess around! I dream of collaborating with Rei Kawakubo.
S. S.: In the past, it would have been with Li Bai (a famous Chinese poet), Moliere
(famous French drama writer/actor,) or Marguerite Duras (French writer.)
Now just with close, creative, and trusted friends.
What is your idea of the perfect holiday?
M. A.: Being alone in a city I’ve never been before and making new friends.
S. S.: A road trip with my closest and oldest friends, traveling and
discovering an unknown country.
What are some of your bad habits?
M. A.: Smoking and complaining all the time (yes, I am French!)
S. S.: Cant stop eating everywhere, all the time.
Do you have any secret talents?
S. S.: Cooking and baking.
M. A.: Absolutely none! What you see is what you get.
What do you want to see in your future?
M. A.: Health for my loved ones above all and then wealth for the business.
S. S.: I have a very normal and traditional vision of future: healthy parents, good
friends, two adorable children and many cats and dogs, and continuing
doing the things that I like.
Where are you at your most relaxed?
M. A.: Very simple: My family’s home in the French countryside.
S. S.: Luang Prabang in Laos; Siem Reap in Cambodia; lakeside
wood house with a sauna in Finland.
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