The rapid growth of the Chinese economy since the late 1970s has dramatically changed the dynamics of the marketplace. China’s consumer society has been transformed to a more liberal market system in which a variety of diverse market imageries have been created and circulated to consumers. This article examines how global fashion brands construct different ‘modern girl’ archetypes for consumers in the emerging Chinese market. Through conducting a semiotic analysis of printed advertisements published in four major fashion magazines during a four-year period from the beginning of 2009 to the end of 2012, we identified six ‘modern girl’ archetypes constructed by global fashion brands. Our findings reveal a dialogical relationship between brand-created imageries and prevailing cultural attitudes. We argue that fashion brands strategically create alternative modern girl archetypes as a way to depict a new era marked by the liberation of Chinese women under the influence of global consumer culture.