Even with a new editor-in-chief, the ‘fashion bible’ continues its love affair with blue skin for their covers. Are they publishing in Pandora?
There is something about blue that editors-in-chief of Vogue SG love. And the ardour must be expressed on the top page of the magazine. For his debut issue, Desmond ‘Monkiepoo’ Lim, who shared the image on Instagram, put an alien on the cover. The humanoid being, named Faye, has not embraced earthly aesthetic conventions although she is ready to partake in one temporal joy: food. She has on make-up that Neytiri on the moon Pandora would call cultural appropriation. Jake Scully would be so peeved, he’d return to earth, thinking the Resources Development Administration was up to something here and that the Na’vi race—indigenous to Pandora—would, again, be under attack so that the RDA could subjugate the moon-dwellers. The blue face is somehow here on our island, at least one of them is. She is among us. And Vogue SG is happy to put her on their cover. The first creature from outer space to grace the magazine in its longer-than-a-century-old history—and among all 27 editions.
A fashion stylist asked us if this is STB’s doing, an early cover to promote next year’s Chingay parade. Why have we not thought of that? The main blurb reads “roots”. Could this be a look at a time when we were costumed. Or, is this tracing back to a genesis that we know not of? Were we a people dressed like the Sakaarans on the trash planet created by the un-aged Grandmaster? According to Marvel, Sakaar “is the collection point for all lost and unloved things”. Is Vogue SG positioning themselves as this assemblage spot? We looked at all the Asian Vogue covers this month—nine of them (we love Vogue Korea’s and Hong Kong’s). None had a model hued blue. We stand out! Are the other Asian EICs laughing at us? Or are they full of admiration, just as they might be with our city-state for being one of the richest countries in the world. This, however, isn’t the title’s first blue-skin cover. On the issue of last May/June, a woman with blue hands and nails partially covered her face. It looked like she was taking a break from working her hands in a vat of indigo dye all day. The fashion message missing then is still lost now.
Someone said to us that Vogue SG is reaching out to a new generation. And which might that be? Cerulean children? The latest cover does tell us that the issue is themed “fashion meets AI revolution”. The image is created by the intelligence that is artificial and cold. Vogue SG has been pro-technology and likes illustrating how digital means can be employed to manipulate the images it uses to communicate to the weary, the blasé, and the aloof, and to induce them to buy a copy of the magazine. In tandem with the rise of ChatGPT, the title and its EIC are, perhaps, showing the world that it is truly ahead of the digital curve. But, if there is one thing this cover proves, AI is yet to be better than human touch. Curiously, rather than make a boast of the talents we have here, Mr Lim chooses to work with a Mumbai-based AI artist. Perhaps this ties with his desire to “return to our ‘Roots’ and rediscover who we truly are as South East Asians” (India is not part of SEA), as he declared on IG. And discover we tried, but it has been futile. Besides, what are the chalk-green biscuits on the table? Are they part of our “roots”, too?
Yesterday afternoon, despite the heavy rain, we made a trip to Kinokuniya to get a copy of the magazine. We thought it deserved a quick perusal. Not a copy was seen on the rack. Instead, piles of the last issue, “Renewal”, were there, waiting to be removed and replaced. We returned to the bookstore again this afternoon, and once more, the cover of non-indigenous Faye’s blue visage couldn’t be seen (nor the other two that are part of a triumvirate of covers for this month). We asked a staff if the store was expecting a delivery. She told us she’d check. When she returned, she was extremely apologetic: “the only copy we have is this,” she pointed to the crumpled, stale issue. Do you know when the magazine will arrive? “Oh, I won’t know. We are not notified beforehand.” It is late for a March/April issue, isn’t it? “Yes, it is,” she replied sympathetically. “They are always like that.”
Update (5 March 2023): Vogue SG is still not available on the newsstands, five days after EIC Desmond Lim shared the photo of the cover on IG
Photo: Zhao Xiangji