And for the first time, the position goes to a Singaporean
Vogue SG’s new editor-in-chief Desmond ‘Monkiepoo’ Lim. Photo: monkiepoo/Instagram
The Singaporean edition of Vogue has just announced its new editor-in-chief, three months after it was reported that their publishing licence was revoked and then reissued, but valid for six months. It was then also said that the previous EIC Norman Tan resigned from his position to take up a new job in the Big Apple. Mr Tan wrote his farewell message in the November/December issue, comparing his tenure to baking. In a media release, Vogue SG said that Desmond ‘Monkiepoo’ Lim will be the magazine’s new editorial head. The appointment must have come as a 大红包 (big hongbao) for the magazine’s former fashion director. Mr Lim’s first issue would be in March. That indicates that the magazine’s publishing licence has been extended beyond the six months that was offered to them after an appeal was made. Mr Lim, as one former magazine editor told us, “has his job cut out for him.”
According to Mr Lim’s latest Instagram post, it took him “2.5 months and 5 rounds of interviews” before the job was his. As with his predecessor’s appointment, Media Publishares looked from within to hire the magazine’s next EIC. Some media observers believe this is a cheaper way since it is likely that existing senior staff would eagerly accept the coveted job with minimal or no adjustments to the salary. Until the current announcement, Mr Lim held the position of fashion director at Vogue SG, after leaving, in 2020, Singapore Tatler, where he held the same position for six years. He is Vogue SG’s first Singaporean for the top editorial post. Former EICs were connected to Australia: In the magazine’s first run (1994—1997), Nancy Pilcher was the editorial head. An American, she ran Vogue Australia (and the SG edition concurrently). When the magazine returned to our shores 23 years later, the EIC role was offered to Norman Tan, originally from Melbourne, who was the social media-crazy EIC of Esquire SG. But Desmond Lim is not entirely disconnected from Down Under. He went to school there, graduating with a BA from the University of South Australia.
It is not immediately apparent what Mr Lim will bring to Vogue SG. Will he continue in the footsteps of the one who came before him? Could those shoes be too large to fill? Or, will he speak directly to the readers here with a more authentic voice? Mr Lim is known to be comfortable with his native self, as sure of his love for bubor cha cha as his adoration of his late ah ma (paternal grandmother) to whom he was the endearing “ah boy” (once, he even did an Iris Apfel on her, and styled her in Prada). Vogue SG struggled to evoke affection before. Or, a discernible Singaporean-ness. It would serve the title well to rouse feelings and excitement that reflect the uniqueness of the name framed in the ‘O’ of the masthead. In the media release, Mr Lim shared that he will “continue to explore the integral connection between fashion, culture, and technology.” Continue, he said.
A PR consultant asked us what we thought of the appointment, “if he makes the cut”. It is hard to say. Going from a fashion director to an EIC is a big leap. Mr Lim, to us, has always been more of a visual person than textual. Putting together a whole magazine, with numerous constituent parts, isn’t the same as styling a fashion spread or creating the content for a social media account. Mr Lim started his career as a graphic designer and his visual language, fashion-wise, is based on gratuitous edginess, rather than clear communication through clothes. The curious May/June 2022 cover of the model covering her hands painted blue may have found kinship in Mystique, but for us, it was hard to ascertain what it really meant, and why it would be a draw or inspiration. But these days, as editors are less the gatekeepers of the fashion industry, Desmond Lim may need more than edginess to be persuasive and compelling.