LA MODE OUTRÉ INTERVIEW and fashion illustration



Hi Baiba! How are things? You’re a fashion stylist & illustrator based in Shanghai, China, is that right?

Yep, but I do even more - I work as a freelance fashion stylist, illustrator, designer and art director. I have Master of Arts in Fashion Design, so I do fashion and accessories design - including shoes - as well.  Also I just started my jewelry line Good crystal. So I’m kind of unique as I do quite a few things (just because I easily get bored by doing one thing all the time!) but it’s all linked to fashion.

How do you feel about the fashion scene in Shanghai? I haven’t been for fashion just yet, but it’s quite an international city I think?

Huh, it definitely has a special style, Shanghai style – that means feminine, high heels, dressed up, bling-bling, pink-Ferrari, much different than the bohemian, arty vibe you see in Beijing. And there is a more local Shanghinese girls style - the girls can be a bit spoiled as the guys carry even a small LV purse for them. But that’s just mainstream, for sure there are many cool local Shanghainese girls I hang out with and they have good individual style and taste.

And still we have people wearing pajamas on the street or fashion stores. I really love it - I still smile every time I see some lady with crazy hair, like a sprayed hairdo wearing pajamas with high heels in Zara or a grandpa on a bike.  There is even a book about it called Planet Shanghai. It really feels sometimes like I live on another planet, haha!

But for sure Shanghai is very cosmopolitan, especially at the moment when there is crisis everywhere else but not here, so we have lot of foreign expats, it’s sort of Asia’s New York. There is Shanghai Fashion week as well, but it is not very well known yet internationally. Fashion magazines commercially are doing quite well here, and I would love to do more editorial styling, but it is a bit hard to get in as most of the magazines prefer to work with local editors, so that’s why it does look a bit local and not that creative still. Much different than the situation in Europe, where fashion magazines are interesting just because they have so many different international stylists, photographers working for them. I am big fan of the cosmopolitan: a mix of cultures and experiences, as staying local can be a trap.

And also we have a few very active street style photographers/bloggers as well!

And I think right now you’re pretty busy with work - what kind of projects are you involved in at the moment?

Yes, at the moment I am working on few projects at the same time. I’m doing art direction for the international fashion design student exhibition for the Shanghai International Fashion Education center (opening April 12th) so I’m organizing displays, but also selecting which designs would be suitable for the fashion shows and which ones for the exhibition. At the same time I’m doing styling for a photo exhibition showing mostly avant-garde pieces from the exhibition. As far as I know this is the first multicultural international fashion design exhibition held in Shanghai, so I am happy to take part in it’s organization.

I’m also working on fashion styling projects (both commercial and creative, print media and video) with a few international photographers and designers and in this case Shanghai is really unique place to be as I can work with so many international talents as they all gather here. And they all want my ideas! so I’m really happy for that and my mind at the moment is really full with ideas.

And of course I’m trying to do one fashion illustration per day at my blog: Daily Fashion Illustration.

With your illustration, how would you describe your style? And do you have any particular inspirations that helped you develop it that way?

My first fashion illustrations were published in magazine when I was 13, it was my first job. And then I stopped it for a while and did only fashion design and styling, but since I came to Shanghai, things changed as at the beginning I was a fashion design lecturer and it really developed my drawing skills and technique. So while I was preparing for classes I did hundreds of drawings and people started telling me that I am good and they would love to get my drawings. So I started doing it professionally. I would describe my style as edgy, cool and sometime mysterious. Most of the time I love skipping details and focus on few lines, color splashes, line and color is very important to me, so I love to use ink, watercolor and markers. I don’t like too much pencil rendering or Photoshop, a  fresh, sketchy effect is very important to me.

Also, I don’t’ draw smiling girls; my girls are cool, intelligent, tough, strong and sexy. Each of them has a story or secret.

Do you have any big plans for moving ahead, perhaps any big projects you want to complete or be involved in?

Oh yes, I dream big. Since childhood I knew and felt what it was to be excited – life is amazing and you can create so many things, just the time is the limit.

My first big thing is to publish my fashion illustration book I am working at the moment. I would love to do styling, costume design for some big production costume movie or theatre, as I love big production things. Also I have some other dreams regarding styling and fashion design, but I wont tell just yet!

And finally, is there a particular quote or saying that defines who you are and what you do?

I love the quote by Ellen Johnson Sirleaf: If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough.
- Baiba Ladiga, portfolio at


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