Shaw-Lan Wang On Running Her Newspaper and Reviving Lanvin

Stories from the Financial Times. 
Feb. 19 2012 6:30 AM

Lunch With Shaw-Lan Wang

A rare interview with the newspaper magnate and Lanvin baroness.

(Continued from Page 2)

To this day, she says, she refuses to meet Japanese people, notwithstanding the fact that she is currently negotiating to buy back the Japanese licence to Lanvin, previously sold to trading house Itochu. “It doesn’t matter what title they have. If people say, ‘Madame Wang, this is such and such,’ I never give my hand. I never say hello to Japanese.” She turns her head disdainfully. “Bye bye. I don’t care what they think.”

The waitress offers to wrap up the left-overs. “For my driver,” says Wang. Two egg tarts and two portions of taro pudding are served. The egg tart, with divinely crumbly pastry, is the best I’ve tasted. I had read somewhere that she compares the dual role of newspaper magnate and fashion-house baroness to having a husband and a lover. Which is which? “Who told you I said that?” she flashes back. “Since my husband died I don’t have any lover. So how can I compare my husband to a lover?”

The important thing is to throw yourself into both. “If you run a business, you have to love this business with all your heart. Before, when I ran a newspaper, I sleep for maybe two, three hours a day. I am so excited.” Now she has cut back and handed over day-to-day management to her nephew. With Lanvin, too, her strategy has been to step back and give Elbaz the freedom to create.


The waitress brings pear and papaya. I nervously broach the subject of who should pay for this feast. Wang’s assistant had warned previously that, under no circumstances, would Madame Wang allow the FT to pay. I try anyway. “I am meant to invite you,” I say timidly. “The FT really does insist on paying.” The riposte is swift and brutal. “Here in China, no. Never, never, never,” she shrieks. “This is my domain. Even if you are Chinese, you cannot pay.”

I figure it is useless. Besides, she is already wrapping up, telling me that on no account am I to refer to her as a Taiwanese businesswoman. “I don’t consider myself Tai-wan-ese,” she says, drawing out the word. “I am Chinese. And I don’t consider myself a businesswoman either,” she adds without explanation. Then she softens. “It’s true, I am a woman. That I cannot say anything about.”

This article originally appeared in Financial Times. Click here to read more coverage from the Weekend FT.

David Pilling is the FT’s Asia editor.


The World

How Canada’s Shooting Tragedies Have Shaped Its Gun Control Politics

Where Ebola Lives Between Outbreaks

Gunman Killed Inside Canadian Parliament; Soldier Shot at National Monument Dies

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

Paul Farmer: Up to 90 Percent of Ebola Patients Should Survive

Is he right?


“I’m Not a Scientist” Is No Excuse

Politicians brag about their ignorance while making ignorant decisions.


Driving in Circles

The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.

In Praise of 13th Grade: Why a Fifth Year of High School Is a Great Idea 

PowerPoint Is the Worst, and Now It’s the Latest Way to Hack Into Your Computer

  News & Politics
Oct. 22 2014 9:42 PM Landslide Landrieu Can the Louisiana Democrat use the powers of incumbency to save herself one more time?
Continuously Operating
Oct. 22 2014 2:38 PM Crack Open an Old One A highly unscientific evaluation of Germany’s oldest breweries.
Gentleman Scholar
Oct. 22 2014 5:54 PM May I Offer to Sharpen My Friends’ Knives? Or would that be rude?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 22 2014 4:27 PM Three Ways Your Text Messages Change After You Get Married
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 22 2014 5:27 PM The Slate Walking Dead Podcast A spoiler-filled discussion of Episodes 1 and 2.
Brow Beat
Oct. 22 2014 9:19 PM The Phone Call Is Twenty Minutes of Pitch-Perfect, Wrenching Cinema
Future Tense
Oct. 22 2014 5:33 PM One More Reason Not to Use PowerPoint: It’s The Gateway for a Serious Windows Vulnerability
  Health & Science
Wild Things
Oct. 22 2014 2:42 PM Orcas, Via Drone, for the First Time Ever
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.