Before Hong Kong filmmaker Wong Kar-wai directed actress Gong Li on the sets of 2046 and Eros, they had already collaborated on a sultry Vogue Paris photoshoot inspired by A Streetcar Named Desire.
A Streetcar Named Desire, by Tennessee Williams, is a play about a Southern belle named Blanche who moves in with her sister and brother-in-law after devastating personal losses. The play was first performed on Broadway in 1947.
From the start, it was controversial — yet critically acclaimed — for its immorality, decadence, and perceived sinfulness. Wong’s 2001 shoot capitalized on this debauched allure.
Wong, the director of the photo shoot, was by then a pivotal figure in Hong Kong cinema.
A Streetcar Named Desire is a favorite of Wong’s, and he once called it a “masterpiece.” Blanche even inspired characters in his films Chungking Express and Fallen Angels.
In the series, Wong and photographer Wing Shya presented Gong as Blanche, the enchanting, disillusioned anti-hero. The streets of New Orleans, however, are swapped with steamy Hong Kong.
Gong is best known for her role in Zhang Yimou’s 1990 film Ju Dou, which was China’s first film to be nominated for Best International Feature Film at the Oscars.
Wing Shya, meanwhile, is a leading photographer and artist in Hong Kong’s cultural and aesthetic landscape.
After their blockbuster photoshoot, Gong went on to star in Eros, Wong’s 2004 anthology film, and in 2046, Wong’s sprawling romantic drama that came out the same year.