Fashion Campaign Brings Gladys Perint Palmer & Alumna Zhangchi Wang Full Circle

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Gladys Perint Palmer’s illustration of former student Zhangchi Wang’s design adorns a tram in Hong Kong. Photo courtesy of Gladys Perint Palmer.

Some coincidences are so amazing that it’s hard to believe they happened by chance. The series of events linking Academy of Art University Executive Vice President of Artistic Development Gladys Perint Palmer and her former student, Zhangchi Wang, to a promotional campaign for Asia-based retailer Joyce, falls into this category.

Palmer headed the Academy’s School of Fashion for many years and is a respected illustrator who has a long relationship with Joyce and the company’s founder, Joyce Ma. “I moved to Hong Kong in 1972 and Joyce was one of the first people I met,” said Palmer. “I got to know her well and contributed to the glossy magazine she used to put out.”

Today, the Joyce empire includes five boutiques located throughout China that specialize in fashions from innovative designers, including Victoria Beckham, Alexander McQueen and Alexander Wang. The company recently celebrated its 46th anniversary and the renovation of its flagship store in Hong Kong’s Central district. Joyce commissioned Palmer to create drawings for posters, print ads, online campaigns and other materials to promote the occasion. At the beginning of the project, the retailer sent her pictures of a number of different outfits to choose from for her illustrations.

“It was important for the outfits to have a strong silhouette,” explained Palmer. “The people at Joyce also wanted the drawings to be set in a mysterious forest.”

After narrowing down her outfit choices and finding inspiration for the forest during her morning walks in the woods near her home in British Columbia, Palmer began to draw. The inks she used included some colorful glitter ones she’d received as a gift from Zhangchi Wang several years earlier when the two of them both happened to be in Paris at the same time and met for lunch.

“I decided to send Zhangchi an email to let her know I was using her inks for the work I was doing for Joyce,” said Palmer. “Zhangchi is from China, so I thought that was a nice little connection.”

Wang has lived in Paris since landing an internship with Yves Saint Laurent in 2013 that turned into a job. She responded to Palmer’s email right away and attached a couple of her latest designs for her employer. Palmer couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw one of them. Wang’s design was an outfit she’d already drawn for her Joyce illustrations.


An illustration for The Golden Needle exhibition by Gladys Perint Palmer.

“You could have blown me down when I found out that Zhangchi’s outfit was one of three that I ended up drawing,” remarked Palmer. “The fact that we even discovered this at all is amazing.”

Wang was also stunned by the coincidence. “It was definitely a lovely surprise,” she said. “Even before I heard from Gladys, it had crossed my mind that she would have so much fun drawing these exaggerated silhouettes.”


(Far left) Gladys Perint Palmer’s illustration of Zhangchi Wang’s Yves Saint Laurent design at the The Golden Needle exhibition in Hong Kong. (Right) Emmy Award-winning set designer Joseph Bennett. Photo courtesy of Gladys Perint Palmer.

According to Palmer, Wang was an extremely hard-working student who produced a superb knitwear collection while attending the Academy. Wang said her time at the School of Fashion was a journey of self-discovery that had a lasting impact on the way she identifies herself and relates to her surroundings. 

Palmer’s whimsical drawing with Wang’s outfit adorned the exterior of Central Hong Kong’s popular trams. They also appeared on posters displayed throughout the area. The Joyce anniversary celebration also included a special three-day exhibition called The Golden Needle. Designed by renowned creative director Joseph Bennett, the unique and immersive fashion exhibit featured illustrations by Palmer and celebrated designers and artisans who have been part of the retailer’s 46-year history. Although she did not attend the event, Palmer received enthusiastic emails from friends who did, including one from Bennett.

“The illustrations were beautiful and looked great covering the tram,” he wrote.

Palmer still marvels over the almost magical events that brought her and Zhangchi together for the Joyce anniversary. “There’s a Chinese word, ‘guanxi,’ that refers to networking and the way things all connect with each other,” she said. “That’s what this story feels like to me. I love all the connections—San Francisco, Paris, Hong Kong and the Academy. It’s like being in a soap opera with a small cast.”