Can the little red dot stand shoulder to shoulder with the little black dress? A native islander and friends look at fashion (and such) in Singapore, and, occasionally, among her neighbours, and a little further afield
Could they be siblings? Or is one the older version of the other?
Left: Michelle Yeo as Evelyn Wang. Photo: a24. Right: Alexander Wang as Alexander Wang. Photo: Alexander Wang
By Mao Shan Wang
The news of the day: Taiwanese actress/celebrity Yang Hsiu-hui (杨绣惠) reportedly looks like Michelle Yeoh (杨紫琼). In a recent social media post, Ms Yang congratulated the Malaysian actress for winning the Oscar for best actress (appreciable as Ms Yang have not co-starred with the awardee, unlike one mainland Chinese actress, as Netizens eagerly indicated, who has not been public with her well wishes). The photo she shared was a composite of her and the Everything Everywhere all at Once star. Ms Yang’s followers were quick to point out how alike the two women are (not to mention that both share the same surname too). Sure, there is the similarity, but I doubt one would be mistaken for the other if they were walking on the same street. Women sometimes look alike on social media because of how they style themselves, the make-up they use, and even the in-app filters they employ. To me, Michelle Yeoh looks even more like someone else. As Evelyn Wang, she bears an uncanny resemblance to Alexander Wang!
I’m not exaggerating. I noticed it when I first saw the EEAAO movie poster. But I didn’t want to come to that conclusion right away. When I finally watched the film, I was even more convinced. To be certain, Ms Yeoh does not move like the designer nor speak like him. But in EEAAO, several of the scenes showed an Evelyn Wang, as her more aggressive self (or is that her avatar?) without prettifying make-up, who is a dead ringer for Mr Wang, especially the close-ups. The length and waviness of their hair are alike and the shape of their faces too. Uncanny, I kept telling myself. To be sure I was not imagining the likeness, I watched EEAAO twice (but, admittedly, I didn’t sit through it the second time). Not that it’s a bad thing for Evelyn Wang to look like Alexander Wang, or vice versa. If there is a day when a biopic of Ms Yeoh is in the works and an audition is called, Mr Wang might be a good choice. Or, if Alexander Wang’s colourful life were to be made into a movie, I am sure he wouldn’t mind an Academy Award winner playing him. It might pave the way for Michelle Yeoh’s second Oscar nomination, even another win.
Michelle Yeoh, in Dior, accepting her Oscar. Photo: Getty Images
To be sure, the continent of Asia is, as we post this, deliriously proud of Michelle Yeoh Choo Kheng (杨紫琼), not merely her small hometown of Ipoh. Malaysia is, of course, lauding their daughter, who has never starred in a single Malaysian film production, as their “大马之光 (damazhiguang or Malaysia’s glory)”. Just hours ago, Tan Sri Yeoh became the first Asian to win an Oscar for best actress, and only the second non-white to be awarded the title after Halle Berry for her role in 2001’s Monster’s Ball. She went on stage, resplendent in bridal Dior Couture, to accept her award and encouraged “all the little boys and girls who look like me watching tonight, this is a beacon of hope and possibilities (sic).” And like so many other recipients, she thanked her mother: “I have to dedicate this to my mom, all the moms in the world, because they are really the superheroes and without them, none of us will be here tonight. She’s 84 and I’m taking this home to her.”
We have no doubt that the Yeoh family was over the moon. Matriarch Janet Yeoh, decked in matching bridal white, was watching the telecast live with her family in Kuala Lumpur, in a cinema at the Pavilion mall. “I’m proud of my daughter. My daughter is a hardworking girl,” she said in a video circulating online. Those unable to attend the family viewing, such as nephew Justin Yeoh, who resides in Singapore, sent good wishes through their Facebook pages. Even Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim congratulated the Oscar winner with a honorific, saying she “carries the hopes of Malaysians”, the New Straits Times reported. BH (Berita Harian) enthused that her win “menepati ramalan ramai (met many predictions)”. Ms Yeoh’s triumph was, therefore, not surprising. Backstage at the Oscars press room, Ms Yeoh said, “This is something we have been working so hard towards, for a very long time… I’m still here today. Finally after 40 years I get this.” Forty years is a long wait. Other actresses have waited longer, and have not won. She found gold at first strike. The cheers she has garnered are expected.
But we, on the other hand, are not as thrilled as we thought we’d be. Michelle Yeoh’s performance in EEAAO as Evelyn Wang is credible. But was it a great one? Was it a tour de force? We are not able to say with confidence. Nothing Mediacorp’s Aileen Tan (陈丽贞) or Chen Liping (陈莉萍) can’t play. Surely the Academy should award exceptional performances? EEAAO, also the Best Picture, is not easy to understand, even to sit through (an unnecessarily lengthy film of 142 mins). It’s been called messy just like the private-quarters-behind-the-laundromat of the Wangs, but some messes are just that: 乱七八糟 (luanqibazao) or disorderly. And getting the multiverse involved—in which unfunny sausage fingers exist—is just pretext for throwing everything everywhere at the manic film and already convoluted plot, made worse by the inexplicably garish overproduction. It’s all a bit too keh kiang (假腔, Hokkien for hollow or unconvincing cleverness). Many Western critics had called EEAAO “original”, but just because such absurdist excess, bordering on the puerile, had not made it to the big screen before—or, gasp, Oscars—did not necessarily make it good.
Of the four acting awards, three went to EEAAO. From left, Ke Huy Quan, Michelle Yeoh, Brendan Fraser, Jamie Lee Curtis. Photo: ABC
Michelle Yeoh is one of those actresses who is okay to watch if she wasn’t aiming for film-making’s top award (e.g. her turn in Crazy Rich Asians). Her performance in EEAAO as the too-much-to-do Asian-American wife gunning for, well, too much, which The Star delightfully called a “complex take”, is not exactly to-be-studied character acting for acting class. She could have imagined herself as an auntie type back in Ipoh. The long-suffering wife is nothing novel or groundbreaking. What newness, indeed, did she bring to Evelyn Wang? We felt that we were watching Michelle Yeoh, still as feisty (even OTT?) as Inspector Ng in 1985’s Yes, Madam (皇家师姐) or Inspector Yang in 1992’s Police Story 3: Super Cop (,警察故事三：超级警察). Her Evelyn Wang sounds exactly the same as her Mameha (Memoirs of a Geisha, 2005) and Eleanor Sung-Young, the later slightly more posh-sounding. Cate Blanchett inhabiting her role in Tár did not bring along her Australian accent. Ms Yeoh, even in the AAEEO’s Asian-American household, was unable to shake off sounding Anglo-Malaysian.
It, too, is hard to understand why directors insist on her speaking Mandarin when she, by her own admission, is not proficient in the language. She was criticised for her 普通话 (putonghua) in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Chow Yun Fatt, too) despite, reportedly, having received training from an accent coach. That shaky Mandarin was repeated in EEAAO. But what was ironic is that the characters Evelyn and Waymond Wang are supposed to be from China. (The casting of Ke Huy Quan, a Vietnamese-American with his American English, too, was bizzare.) Add to that, Evelyn Wang speaks Cantonese! And only moderately better than her Mandarin. The communication in English between she and the people around her rings with an FOTB inflection, just in case you needed to be reminded that the Wangs are immigrants. The do-not-sound-alike husband and wife are seemingly not from the same part of China, which are not identified when we know their laundry business is in California.
Her Oscar win is, to us, an alignment of the stars. The year 2022, as it eased out of the pandemic, has been good to Michelle Yeoh. Time named her ‘Icon of the Year’. EEAAO arrived when there was (and is) demand for minority “representation” in Hollywood, including, in the case of EEAAO, the immigrant experience. The film is repeatedly hailed as “a breakthrough for Hollywood diversity”. In other words inclusive, purposely inclusive. Imagine how Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (卧虎藏龙) would have fared if it is a work of the present. This is the year for Asians actors and film-makers to shine. EEAAO’s award season success attests to that. And the Academy wanted to ensure that a win for the Michelle Yeoh vehicle will keep them in line with the overall mood and drive in the US. Ms Yeoh’s controversial Instagram post last Tuesday, just hours before Oscar voting closed, in which she shared—and then quickly deleted—a Vogue think-piece wondering if Cate Blanchett needed another of the gold statuette since she already has two, was overlooked. The Malaysian appeared to share Vogue’s sentiment—at least initially—until someone from her team probably reminded her that she could have violated Academy Awards guidelines. One of them states that “any tactic that singles out ‘the competition’ by name or title is expressly forbidden”.
The cast and crew of EEAAO receiving the Best Picture award. Photo: Getty Images
To us, Michelle Yeoh won the Oscar, not because of her exceptional, moving performance (some Malaysians, including those from Ipoh, shared with SOTD, that her part in EEAAO “说不上演技 (shuobushang yanji)” or isn’t about acting skills. It is possible she is surrounded by the right people to ensure that her time, although forty years late, would come. It is also tempting to consider the influence of the recently elected—last August—president of the Academy of Motion Arts and Sciences Janet Yang Yanzi (杨燕子). She is the organisation’s first Asian-American female president and it is possible that the born-in-Queens, New York film veteran wanted to make her mark at the Academy by witnessing Michelle Yeoh become the first Asian to get the best actress nod. What is also interesting is that she and the Malaysian Oscar winner share the same maiden name. We are not suggesting that there were improper behind-the-scenes arrangements. But everything—and everyone—everywhere just fell into place all at once for Michelle Yeoh.
It is hard to imagine that EEAAO, even if entirely spoken in Mandarin, would even be considered for the Golden Horse Award (金马奖), yet they made a staggering sweep at the Oscars, winning a total of seven awards out of 11 nominations: three acting awards, best editing, best original screenplay, best director, and best picture. The best is, of course, not always the best. Not since 2005’s Slumdog Millionaire (with eight awards), has there been EEAAO’s enviable haul. As they made more gains later into the award season, more pundits believed that the US$25 million movie (compared to another best film nominee Avatar: The Way of Water’s estimated US$250 million!) would dominate at the Oscars. The film’s success is thought to speak for Asians but we think that’s too grandiose an ambition to consider. EEAAO is intensely Asian-American in its leaning and narrative; doubtful, therefore, that it is, laundromat et al, a “beacon” for Asia, even if the Asian experience could be that multiversal. Asia is huge and it is diverse, possibly more than what is experienced or seen in California. Surely even Michelle Yeoh cannot profess to be the archetypal Asian actress.
She may have won an Oscar, but it can’t be said that Ms Yeoh scored big in the style stakes. We have often thought that Dior on the red (or champagne) carpet is frequently anti-climatic for even the most seasoned presentation attendee. For the grandest award ceremony (and the most watched), she placed her trust in Dior and it turned out to be the weakest of all her red carpet looks of the past months. Decidedly underwhelming (perhaps intentionally, in case she had to leave empty-handed), the gown could have passed off for one from any of the bridal shops along Tanjong Pagar Road. It seemed that it could have originally been a strapless number, but turned out to be something else—the tiered, feathered bustier-gown, for some reason, had to be attached to a sheer upper bodice. We weren’t quite able to make out the silhouette either: was it a tented dress or was it meant to be waisted? A safe bet to avoid the puzzlement that followed her choice of that Schiaparelli dress at the SAG awards? She was not, of course, the first to don bridal wear to an award ceremony. K D Lang wore one at the first-ever Juno Award in 1985. Michelle Yeoh has come a long way from the time of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, when she attended the Oscars in Barney Cheng. These days, Hong Kong qipao is no longer on her mind. She has walked on various red carpets in Gucci, Schiaparelli, Chanel, and Dior. When an Oscar win beckons, only European names will do, even if it could pass off as anyone’s wedding dress.
Which one is not from this planet, not just this continent?
The covers of the March issues of all the Vogues in Asia. From top row, left: China, Hong Kong, India; Japan, Korea, Philippines; Singapore, Taiwan, and Thailand. Cover photos: Vogue of respective countries
Unique has often been used as convenient euphemism for ugly. But as we have repeatedly pointed out, ugly by definition has changed. What is ugly is not ugly. Similarly, what is unique may be different, but not necessarily exceptional. Existing as the sole example of, say, magazine-cover uniqueness may not be exemplar of creative distinction or courage, candour. In being unlike any other, there is the risk of being bound to conceit—nothing is better than the creator’s singular thinking since his thoughts, ideas, creative process are not like others’, contemporaneous or not. This kind of output can indeed be alienating. The lastest cover of Vogue SG, to us, is.
Photographs are key in the design of a magazine cover. Magazines, being image-driven, depend on good, communicative, aspirational photographs from cover to cover, especially fashion publications. Magazine covers have always been a reflection of the times, the mirror that reflects the aesthetical common, but presented with a point of view; an opinion, as Richard Avedon would have said. A magazine cover also tells the reader what to expect when the pages within are given a chance of perusal. Or to offer a fashion/trend pronouncement. It is usually conceived to draw the curiosity of the like-minded or those with similar taste. Despite the myriad ways of creating images that compel, the imperative is still to appeal to human emotions and desires.
Stefan Sagmeister, a designer who is no stranger to strange magazine covers, said in 2015 at a media event in Melbourne, “a lot of [modernist] designs now make no sense whatsoever… they’re unbelievably stupid and deeply, deeply inhuman.” That could perhaps describe the Vogue SG’s born-again cover (although Mr Sagmeister was referring to architecture, his thoughts are applicable to magazine cover design). When we compared that cover (and the masthead) to the other eight Asian editions of Vogue of this month, the stark difference is obvious and unsettling, so is it’s alien-ness (look at the oddly small, ghostly hands!). The absence of a fashion message aside, there is a clear lack of approachability. The cover is AI-generated, we know. Creativity sans emotional connection. It, therefore, begs the question, “Who on earth is this magazine for?”
Even with a new editor-in-chief, the ‘fashion bible’ continues its love affair with blue skinfortheircovers. 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
Who did what: that seemed to interest many of you in the past year
The past year has been a mixed bag if we look into what deserved examining somewhat closely, but one thing was certain, people were interested in other people. While 2022 drew those readers who were keen to know about stores that were closing—understandably so as many businesses were terribly affected by the pandemic, which, incidentally, isn’t over—or opening, it was also one in which some individuals in the news are more fascinating and curiosity-arousing than others. We don’t mean the puke muffin that is Kanye West (he was, of course, a subject of tremendous interest), but those who are closer to us—on our island or in Southeast-Asian cities, such as Thailand. And no one made compelling news more than a pair of scammers.
Leading the top five most-read post of the year (excluding the homepage) is our profile of the Thai lass Siriwipa Pansuk who, together with her China-born Singaporean husband, not only cheated scores of shoppers, but was also able to escape our island while under police investigation and, presumably, watch. In fourth position is a piece from last year about the model Duan Meiyue, a face artists all over the world love. We think people are fascinated with her because she has been constantly displeased with being an unsolicited subject of art, and was pondering to sue, even all the way to Russia!
In the fifth place is a rather old post about Burberry’s unusual pick for their 2020 campaigns. This Isaan boy Zak Srakaew, although no longer the face of high fashion, continues to draw attention. Talking about old posts, our report on the closure of Pedder on Scotts in 2021 continue to bring in readers; it holds its place at number two. We wonder if people truly regret to see it go. The biggest riser of the year, jumping to a respectable third spot in just two months, is the report on Vogue SG’s troubles when their publishing licence was cancelled in October and then granted again, for another six months.
In terms of readership, 2022 has been our best year since we began, exceeding what was a good 2021 by an encouraging 55%. As we go into our 10th year of sharing with you what we think of fashion, the businesses and people behind it, we hope you will continue to read—and enjoy—Style on the Dot, wherever you are.
Following the end of the relationship between Adidas and Kanye West, reports have emerged of objectionable work environment in the Yeezy/Adidas office in California and elsewhere. Are Yeezys still the footwear to be seen in?
A young chap in Adidas Yeezy Slides
By Awang Sulung
Yeezy is over. At least from Adidas’s side of the story, the name is. There are reports that Adidas will release non-Yeezy Yeezys next year. I am not sure if Kanye West is able to continue using the Yeezy name, but I am certain that is the least of his problems. There is still YZY. And, possibly a YZY SZN 10. No Yeezy Days? How about Donda Days? There is Donda Sports, Mr West’s managing agency that represents athletes in branding deals (and they sell stuff, like a hoodie, a pair of shorts and socks, all marked on the website ‘sold out’!). And don’t forget Ye, a name waiting to be slapped on merchandise. If Adidas continues to sell the designs that came about under Yeezy, but without that tainted name, will they still hold any appeal? Is Yeezy the same if it is not Yeezy? I mean, do sneakerheads want them if they look like Yeezys but are just Adidas? Does Adidas Boost 350 V2 have the same ring, even if you know which Yeezy shoe it is? Yes, questions there are, but, frankly, no easy answers.
Two months have past after the news that Adidas potong-ed ties with Kanye West, and a tumultuous year is near the end. Oddly, in a single day, I saw two separate guys wearing Adidas Yeezy Slides—yes, the one Mr West accused the German sportswear giant of “copying”. And in the following week, I saw more. All of them walking with considerable swagger. I think the colour of those slides I saw is the one former Adidas Yeezy (or Mr West? Was he involved in colour-naming?) called “Pure”. Oddly, all of them in that pale shade. On those occasions, I was not sure if I saw anything that wholesome. If bigotry has a colour, might it be that? Those anti-Semitic rants are still kind of fresh (let’s not even talk about his interview with Alex Jones!). And Mr West (I’ll still refer to him as that since he has always been Kanye West, the rapper, to me) has not showed that he is regretful, let alone remorseful, even planning to run for president of the US, again, totally unconcerned that what he spewed before would haunt him on the campaign trail, possibly now not trodden by Yeezys.
Another fellow in the same slide
Warning: the following contains words and descriptions some readers may find offensive
Recap: But what is more disturbing is the news that emerged, revealing the kind of boss and creative head Mr West was while steering the design and production of Yeezys. According to a report by Rolling Stones (they spoke to former staffers who requested anonymity), the rapper-designer was in a constant state of flux, even “pure chaos”. One informer told the magazine: ““It was the most hectic and chaotic experience of my life [and] career.” But poor managerial and operational skills aside, Mr West is described as a belligerent boss, and one inclined to show his sexual side even at work. Another report, headlined Kanye West Used Porn, Bullying, ‘Mind Games’ to Control Staff alleged that in one design meeting, Mr West was displeased with the shoes shown to him. He approached a senior female staffer and said to her, “I want you to make me a shoe I can fuck.” At other meetings with executives, he apparently played porn, showed intimate images and explicit videos of ex-wife Kim Kardashian. Sometimes, he showed “his own sex tapes”. It was also revealed that an open later by the Yeezy team stated that senior Adidas execs knew of Mr West’s “problematic behavior” but “turned their moral compass off”.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the chief executive and his top guys pondered over the potential fallout from its collab with Kanye West four years ago. They knew it might come to this, but perhaps making money was more important? They latter announced that they would US$246 million in profits by taking Yeezy out of the Adidas line-up. What Mr West did with Yeezy that led Adidas to such profitability and then loss was often thought to be a “cultural sensation”, but now he is a cultural pariah, best ignored, even forgotten. I have never owned a single pair of Yeezy, so I can’t say what choosing not to wear them feels like, but one of my buddies did say to me that now when he takes stock of his numerous pairs, “they look like sampah”. This is probably not how others consider Yeezys that cost them not a small sum. You can still get Adidas Yeezys at SNKR Dunk, moral compass not in sight. But do you really want to?
Increasingly, high-end brands are sponsoring Christmas light-ups inside and outside of malls and, in cities such as Tokyo, shopping districts too
An LV Christmas glass installation in Marunouchi, Tokyo
You have seen the Dior star-tree in the open space in front of ION Orchard. Scores have taken photos there, with the massive festive set-up behind them. It is not clear if the lavishly-lit, multi-story, outdoor Dior-branded structure pulls shoppers into the mall, specifically to the (new) Dior store inside, but that installation, with two massive Dior logotypes, is a reminder of the brand’s marketing might. It does not matter that more that 95 percent of those who desire to be photographed with the Dior fake tree would, in fact, not be seduced by it to want to go further than take selfies, but Dior is probably pleased that the tree is attracting massive attention, not just with locals, but tourists too. It is good enough that it’s a Dior Yuletide moment. And Orchard Road has not looked this festively cheery since the COVID pandemic struck. Dior is also making record sales globally to be able to stage such an unmissable pile of the brand’s mighty standing, augmenting the same unabashed commercialism of this very season.
Further north of our island, fellow LVMH brand Louis Vuitton took the massive on-the-mall-premises marketing exercise further—in, unsurprisingly, Tokyo. The business district and shopping area of Marunouchi, in front of the unmistakable Tokyo Station, is where they have set up not just the usual 3-D Christmas-themed structures (such as the window piece above) to attract amateur shutterbugs, but also something far much more interactive: an oblong skating rink to lure the winter skaters. Situated on Gyoko-dori, the wide pedestrian walkway (in front of the central entry/exit of Tokyo Station) that leads to the gardens and grounds of the Imperial Palace, the rink is without doubt, the main attraction of the area. Dubbed Marunouchi Street Rink, it is the first ever set up here, but the 9 metres long and 26 metres wide facility does not come with an iced surface. In the name of eco-friendliness, the rink has a resin skating area. When selfies are done and skating is completed, one can quench one’s thirst at the Fish Café. The kiosk, in the shape of a fish, is known as a Fish Car, and it serves winter-appropriate beverages, such as hot cranberry ginger tea. Every single one of the three stops here is designed in collaboration with Yayoi Kusama.
An LV ice skating ‘ring’, also in Marunouchi, Tokyo
That LV partnered with Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama is also an affirmation of their commitment to Japan. While the installations are, admittedly, a publicity effort for the collaborative collection with Ms Kusama, expected to launch on New Year’s day, they do not have the commercial blandness that such exercises typically project. They have the playfulness, even cuteness, that is inherently Japanese, when it comes to engaging the city folk in public art. And they are massive in scale, which allow them to be sculptures on their own (or installation art), which keeps with the creative standing of Tokyo. The Marunouchi installations are not the only ones LV has set up. Also Yayoi Kusama-themed are the 3-D video art in front of JR Shinjuku Station’s east exit, more video ads framing Shibuya Scramble Crossing, a giant “floating pumpkin” in Ms Kusama’s distinctive dots hovering above some rooftops, just next to Tokyo Tower, and the pathway in front of the Zojoji temple, dotted with the artist’s signature pattern.
Marunouchi (specifically Marunouchi Street Park or MSP, held this time of the year since 2019), even without the latest illuminated participation of big brands, is one of the most “classily lit” parts of Tokyo, as the locals would say. The main light-up is usually on Marunouchi Naka-Dori Avenue, one of our favourite shopping streets in Tokyo, about 1.2 kilometres long. Running for 21 years, the illumination here is, at its humblest, 1.2 million LED lights in champagne gold stretched over 340 trees. This year, much of the action is on MSP Twinkle Street, which this year tumbles down in front of Marunouchi Building. There is a merry-go-round and more Yuletide-themed spots to sit and sip hot beverages and non-alcoholic cocktails that can be bought in kiosks dotted around. The mood is decidedly festive, almost carnivalesque. Even the crowd does not spoil the fun. It helps that Tokyo this year is enjoying a comparatively cold December, averaging 6 degrees Celsius in the evenings these past weeks. There is something bracing about the cold air, a boon to the enjoyment of outdoor festivities.
The Tiffany’s globe also part of the Maruouchi’s annual street light-up
Another LVMH brand, Tiffany, too made their presence felt. Not to be outdone, the American luxury jewelers created the Tiffany Holiday Street in the vicinity of the Marunouchi Park Building, diagonally from the Kitte Shopping Mall (which has its own stunning festive decoration in the main atrium; this year, Winter Forest Christmas). Tiffany’s installations—more traditional—are no slouch: there is a Christmas tree, underscored with boxes in Tiffany blue, and a huge stained-glass bauble. These on-the-street pieces commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Tiffany store in Japan, which opened in Mitsukoshi Department Store in 1972. Although Japan is Tiffany’s largest market in the world outside the US, the company did not open a freestanding store in any Japanese city until 1996—in Tokyo, on the shopping belt Ginza, with a massive 7,700 sq ft flagship. The Tiffany Holiday Street designs are derived from the brand’s holiday greeting cards from the ’50s and ’60s, which were designed for the New York 5th Avenue store by the late pop-artist Andy Warhol.
The Marunouchi illumination is possibly more stylish than those in other parts of the Japanese capital (even trendy Omotesando) because the main street Marunouchi Naka-Dori Avenue is not only home to major fashion brands (including avant-garde mainstay of Japanese fashion Comme des Garçons), it is also where some of the city’s best public artworks are displayed—nineteen pieces in all, including the sculptures by Renate Hoffleitm, Emilio Greco, and Kohei Nawa. But these are not some random pieces placed in the front of buildings by their wealthy owners. They are, in fact, operated and curated, since 1972, by Chokoku-no-Mori Art and Culture Foundation, which operates the famed Open-Air Museum in the onsen town of Hakone. The alluring Marunouchi lights are more than prettifying one of the nicest and least manic parts of shoppable Tokyo. There is a spillover effect on the neighbouring districts of Yaesu and Yurakucho, too. In Japan, Christmas is not a public holiday. It is less about religion, and more about the festive vibe, augmented by the holiday illuminations.
The Dior star-tree outside ION Orchard. Photo: Chin Boh Kay
Back home, our main light-up is on Orchard Road, a roughly 3-kilometre stretch, taking into account Tanglin Road. That makes it twice the length of the Marunouchi illumination (and, at 38 years, almost twice as old), but not, unfortunately, double the stylishness or sophistication. Unlike the light-up in Marunouchi, Orchard Road’s goes through thematic and chromatic changes each year, and not always with convincing creative flair. Certainly not 2018’s Disney Magical Moments. Mickey Mouse and company (Elsa and Anna was somewhere too) pleased not the National Council of Churches (NCCS), to the extent that they wrote to the Singapore Tourism Board to express their displeasure that the light-up was more Disney than Christmas. Even Dick Lee, four-time Orchard Road light-up designer, joined the chorus of criticism, echoing to The Straits Times exactly what the NCCS felt: “there is too much emphasis on Disney, and too little on Christmas.” Mass appeal does not always sway. And Disney does not always win.
It is admittedly hard to evoke the Christmas vibe on our sunny island, chief among the disadvantages, our weather. Even in this rainy season, the temperature is around 28 degrees Celsius, way warmer than hot spots in Tokyo, even down in the belly of the Toei subway system. No one sings Baby, it’s Cold Outside. Which means when aChristmas ad calls out to you to “soak in the festive spirit”, it inevitably means you’d be soaked. The heat, coupled with the humidity, usually means T-shirt, shorts, and slippers are preferred for viewing the festive lights. This typical Orchard Road turnout contrasts dramatically with that in Marunouchi, where going to view the seasonal illumination is an affair that encourages better dress than required for a visit to the konbini. Here, inside is better than outside. At the central atrium in Takashimaya Shopping Centre recently, shoppers were thronged into the space now mostly occupied by a nearly three-storey Christmas tree surrounded by bears with the body of models and dressed in Ralph Lauren. Many visitors seemed to have escaped the scene out on the Ngee Ann City Civic Plaza, mere steps away. There is a Christmas market—the Great Christmas Village, it calls itself—in operation. The crowded open space is flanked by food trucks and crammed with fairground rides and a messy central zone of tables, littered with leftover makan and used disposable plates. “Great” is really stretching it.
Has the novelty of the American day of discounts waned?
A short line outside Louis Vuitton at ION Orchard
It was too calm to be a Black Friday, but it was the morning of the year’s biggest mark-down event. Yesterday, at around 11am in ION Orchard, the few shoppers seen did not appear to be in a haste to shop. By noon, the mall was still relatively quiet. The only store that was attracting a noticeable stream of shoppers was Sephora. But, on the first floor, where we had expected snaking lines, the entrances clear of willing-to-wait shoppers were a surprise to see. Were people too sloshed at last night’s Thanksgiving dinners to be able to be out this early? There was no “palpable sense of excitement” that The Straits Times Channel would later report.
At the newly opened Dior store (formerly Burberry), there was no line, only a woman making an enquiry. But, when we attempted to enter the store, a saleswoman stopped us and asked if we had “an appointment”. Do we need an appointment to shop at Dior? “The waiting time is about one hour if you have no appointment,” she said. But the store is not packed. We peered into the store to be sure. “We want to be able to offer you a one-to-one.” What is that? “We will assign one staff to you.” We were happy to be unattended. “We can serve you better.” It was clear she would not let us in.
We had better luck at Gucci, next door. Just as we arrived at the entrance, a saleswoman gestured to us to enter. Did we need an appointment to shop? “Oh, no. It is not packed yet. You don’t have to queue.” Why is there no line? How has the announcement of the departure of Alessandro Michele affected to traffic? “Not really. It’s about the same as before.” She accompanied us throughout our brief exploration of the store, even stopping us to draw our attention to a Gucci X Adidas shirt, with an awfully massive joint-logo of the two brands. We thanked her, sure in our mind that when we come back again, it would be when the store is rid entirely of the present crop of merchandise.
No queue at the new Dior store at ION Orchard
Over at Bottega Veneta, we sauntered into the store easily. A saleswoman approached us to ask if she could be of any help. We said we were browsing. She left us alone. There were only two other women in the store. The quiet and the freedom to look at the merchandise unharried lent almost an old-time vibe to the experience (even if it was too brief to be described as one). We could appreciate the lovely details of Matthieu Blazy’s ready-to-wear, and touch them. Our reverie was finally broken when we were looking at a S$1,100 pair of clear (yes, see-through!) Puddle Ankle Boots. “Would you like to try,” a coaxing voice came from across our shoulders. No, thanks. It’s a very hot day. We had no idea what we were saying in response.
Across BV was LV. There was a line to the right of the sole entrance on this floor. After SOTD contributor Mao Shan Wang’s experience at the very same entrance in 2018, we had been wary of this particular LV store and had not visited since. It was after one, post meridiem, and we had not been nourished by lunch and we were not sure that we were able to handle any surliness of service, even when merely window shopping, not that there was much of a window to look at when those in line have mostly blocked it. When we stood at the entrance, to look beyond it, the doorkeeper’s speaking glance, said to us, “do you have an appointment?”
There was no one waiting at Loewe, although a rope secured to a pair of stanchions was stretched across the entrance. We stood in front of it, but caught no one’s attention. About a hundred metres to our right, there was a visible line outside Bacha Coffee. Behind us, the hoarding for Christian Louboutin on the former Moncler store looked uncommunicatively at us. Minutes dragged on. Then, a woman with no purchase in hand walked towards us. A sales staff let loose the rope to let her out. She waved to let us in. Were we hoping to see anything in particular, she asked. We wanted to look around first. “Sure”, she said, and left us to discover on our own. Further in the space called “Casa” (or house in Spanish), another staffer said to let her know if we needed anything. We found a S$850 almost-cubic coin case cute, but was not so sure about the extremely prominent logo on the front.
Sephora at Takashimaya Shopping Centre
Many of these stores made no announcement that they were participating in the Black Friday markdown. No standee was placed up front to entice, nor a discreet little sticker. The girl at Dior did whisper something about a “seasonal special”, but she did not elaborate. Was extreme bargain hunting seen on our faces, even when we had our four-ply mask on? A young guy, emerging from LV asked his shopping companion, “how come no sale?” They walked past the Saint Laurent pop-up in the atrium—it was without customers. A sales staff was loitering outside, like a tout. The relative quiet of this floor did not reflect what Black Fridays have become after the easing of COVID restrictions in 2020. Or, was this a reminder that it was a working day for most?
By two, ION did not look busier than usual. There was still no line outside Gucci. At fifteen to three, we walked to Wisma Atria. The traffic could hardly be described as heavy, the clusters of shoppers scarcely made a crowd. At the underpass to Takashimaya Shopping Centre, there was not quite the usual bottleneck. We breezed through. On the other side, it was not manic as we had thought it would be. Found café inside The Editor’s Market was full, but not the store. We took the escalator up, and was surprised to see a very short line outside Chanel (strangely, the queue did run along the side of the store, but cut diagonally across the entryway of the mall. It was quiet at the newly refurbished Fendi. Opposite, two people were waiting to be let in at Dior. Next door at Celine, staffers were chatting among themselves. Strange it was seeing so little action.
Finally a daunting queue. This was at, again, Sephora, where the long line for those opening their wallets was no deterrent to those determined to make a haul. Black Friday, as it turned out, had touched A Great Street rather unevenly this year. Could it be that, despite an impending GST rise, shoppers were not splurging if they were not buying a refrigerator or a television set? Friends WhatsApped us to announce that it was packed at the Courts Nojima Heeren store. Did we not want to see a crowd, they asked. Or go to Metro, they suggested. We would sit that one out.
Raf Simons has announced the shuttering of his eponymous label, but his work is not going to disappear any time soon. He isn’t retiring. There is still his not-small part at Prada
Twenty seven is too young an age to die. But Raf Simons is seeing that the label that bears his name is killed in its 27th year. Better to depart youthful? Mr Simons has just announced that the beloved and influential brand he founded in 1995 showed its last collection—spring/summer 2023 last October in London—was his final. The fashion world is in shock. So many influential artists and artistes have passed on at that age, sufficient in numbers that there is a 27 Club—it came to existence after Kurt Cobain’s death in 1994. The Club is, of course, not a real one and not necessarily glorious either. Many in the hall of fame died from the excesses of just that—fame. But no one joins it since they would have been dead, but its notional existence shows that many noted creatives departed from this world at that age, leaving behind a veritable legacy. Most are musicians. Apart from Mr Cobain, there is Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and, closer to the present, Amy Winehouse. In art, there is Jean-Michel Basquiat, whose work is especially popular among clothing and footwear brands. But in luxury fashion, designers have longer lives. No one that we can remember died at 27, nor did their corresponding label (Jil Sander did [first] leave her brand in its 27th year, but it was not closed, and she did return to it in 2003, only to leave again a year later). Could Raf Simons the label be the first?
In Mr Simons’s announcement on Instagram, he offered no reason for the closure of his brand, which, as can be imagined, led to speculations. Was it the damned economy, with a recession looming? Was the label also the victim of the havoc COVID caused? We’ll add to those popular two. Was he missing an able sidekick after Pieter Mulier joined Alaia? Was he under too much stress to connect with the Metaverse—he hasn’t—to keep his brand relevant? Was Raf Simons too much of a cult label to enjoy the same success of, say, Ader Error? Or Ambush? It is hard to assert with certainty. Mr Simons does have a strong following, especially among those who have tracked his work from the start (including us!). But not going the logo-heavy route and keeping the cut and construction of his clothing generally simple may have not drawn new customers or win converts rooted in the excess of meretricious brands. The fashion marketplace has changed, and continues to, with staggering speed. Not wanting to stay put is not necessarily a bad thing. It certainly was not when he quit Dior and, later, Calvin Klein. But what about the collaborations, such as the still-desirable pairing with Fred Perry? That could remain to provide those who might be seized with nostalgia a chance to buy merchandise that would still have desirable links to the past.
And there is always Prada. After joining the Italian brand in 2020 to co-design the men’s and women’s collections with Miuccia Prada, Mr Simons seemed to have found his groove. He is poised to stay. The 109-year-old brand is enjoying renewed interest after a lull period. In the five years leading to 2018, the brand posted declining annual sales. Its performance was so dismal that rumours abound at that time that the company may be forced to sell to LVMH or Kering. But the tide turned, and The Washington Post wrote recently that the brand’s “creeping back into popular consciousness”. Part of it being noticed again is the current trend for things ’90s. Conversely, Raf Simons, also essentially a ’90s brand, chooses to bow out rather than take advantage of the zeitgeist. It is not clear what part in the rejuvenated Prada lies Mr Simons’s input, but each season since his first in September 2020, Prada has been steeped in ideas and innovation. Has Mr Simons proven his worth and is now a serious contender to succeed Ms Prada? Is this possibility so questionless that he is confident enough to wind up his own label? Mr Simons, it is reported, has an open-ended contract with Prada, just as Karl Lagerfeld had with Chanel. Miuccia Prada is 73 (he is 54); she could be pondering retirement. Hard to imagine someone else a worthier successor than Raf Simons.
Drake and Savage 21 pulled an editorial stunt the magazine and its publisher Condé Nast did not appreciate
Was it a clever joke? Maybe it was, until Condé Nast sued! Drake and Savage 21 must have thought creating the cover (above) to promote their joint album Her Loss is ingenious or hilarious, or both. They’ve even used the actual Vogue masthead, with both rappers—amateurishly shot—in front of it, as the magazine often places their cover models. There are cover blurbs too, with the main line that read “‘You have to be political’. 21 Savage is not holding back”, which sounds like something analogous to what Kanye West is prone to saying these days. Drake shared the photo of the mock mag on Twitter, saying, “Me and my brother on newsstands tomorrow!! Thanks @voguemagazine and Anna Wintour for the love and support on this historic moment.”
The magazine and its publisher showed no love nor saw the ingenuity and the hilarity of the social media stunt. According to press reports, they filed a USD4 million lawsuit against the duo. According to those who have seen the court papers, Conde Nast issued a cease and desist order in 31 October, and insisted that Drake and his social media team “unauthorized use of the Vogue trademark by removing the Instagram post, ceasing any distribution of this ‘magazine,’ and issuing a public statement clarifying that this was not an actual cover of Vogue”.
But why Vogue, rather than, say, XXL or Vibe, both would make more sense since it was an album promo, or even Ebony, if they must pick a woman’s title? With Vogue now featuring more Black cover models than ever (Michaela Coel appears on the November cover and Serena Williams was on it just two issues ago), it is perhaps understandable why Black artistes crave to appear on its cover. Kanye West, Drake’s one-time ‘beefing’ (12 years’ worth, reportedly) pal, was already cover boy (April 2014). Vogue is now Black artistes’ target title. The “fashion bible” is the magazine to aspire to appear in. A cover photo on Vogue means more than the appearance on any other professional mags, combined. Despite its thinning page count, it is still the periodical that announces you have arrived. But is the increase Black representation token shift or genuine change? Or is the change so slow that Drake had to create his own Vogue cover?
Was it a coincidence that Singapore Stories 2022 washeld on the weekend of Halloween?
One of the entries by Jamela Law of Baëlf Design. Photo: KC for SOTD
Yesterday evening, in the riparian party central that is the Boat Quay, merrymakers were all out to enjoy the weekend before Halloween arrives on Monday. On Circular Road, a just-violated bride frolicked with an ogre who could be Shrek’s uglier cousin. At the edge of the Singapore river, Snow White, who looked like Cinderella in disguise, was cross with her very drunk prince. In a dark corner, a well-fed witch with an MLB cap was snogging with Batman’s Robin. Just a few of the more colourful characters among the usual gathering of the bedraggled and the bloodied. This year’s Singapore Stories at the Asian Civilisations Museum, just across the river, was just as delirious in spooking its unsuspecting attendees. At its first-ever runway presentation since the inauguration of Singapore Stories in 2018, the second-level Shaw Foundation Foyer of the museum was mood-lit like a soundstage for Fright Night. A pull into what could be a tantalising new direction for Singapore Stories under the watch of the newly–named Singapore Fashion Council (SFC).
Yet, was it? Succumbed we tried not to, but irresistible it was to see the entries for Singapore Stories this year as hacks for hantu heroines, and we were horrified. These could be creative output for the inhabitants of the yinjian (阴间 or netherworld). CEO of SFC Semun Ho said in her welcome address that “it’s hard to talk about design” given the chilling challenges of the industry now. It is imperative, therefore, to built a viable “ecosystem”, and bring “sustainability” into focus. Singapore Stories, it could then be understood, is not design-centric. More important is the narrative that the contestants bring to their clothes. Appraise the Incredible Tales, rather than the designs, or the design finesse needed for the telling to be vivid and believable. Sure, story-telling is integral to contemporary visual culture, but with good design, stories illuminate; they clarify, they uplift, they reassure. Design is a better story-teller than mere stories. But, yesterday evening, on the squarish runway, surrounded on three sides by “function chairs”, those Singapore Stories emerged, frightening and daunting.
From left to right: the designs of Claudia Poh of Werable, Felicia Pang of Feel Archives, and Hu Ruixian of Studio HHFZ. Photos: KC for SOTD
The winner of the Singapore Stories this year is Kavita Thulasidas of the Indian emporium Stylemart. Those colourful silk mishmash of cultural references rather scared us out of our wits. Perhaps a deliberate staying away, but not entirely, from her understandably more ethnic tendencies, she attempted “Heritage Reinterpreted and Beyond”. Was it, in fact, from the beyond? There seemed the thought that apparitions sent down the runway would be less ghastly if there was evidence of embroidery or whatever surface treatment that could be applied. Apart from the obligatory flowers, there was the he (鹤) or crane, popular symbol of good luck and longevity in East Asian culture. The bird selected for the garments could have been picked from festive food packaging—there was no reimagining of the mythological crane. Perhaps this was key to her win: Asian exotica. The six-piece entry would appeal to ACM’s acquisition of Asiatic arts. At the post-show reception, ACM’s Kenny Tng urged Ms Thulasidas to continue designing such work so that the museum might acquire more, and eventually give her her own exhibition.
In design competitions, there are always those who are just not in the same league as the other contestants. If so, it becomes an uneven, haunted playing field for them. The lone wolf, if you will, of the night was Jamela Law of Baëlf Design. Her clothes were nothing like the rest of the contestants’, and perhaps that was her disadvantage. Ms Law and co-founder of Baëlf Design, Lionel Wong are known for their flair with laser cutting and for intricate three-dimensional printing, which are transformed into garments and other objects. She opened the show with a form-fitting dress, with sleeves that, in the dimness, appeared to be formed by rods (bamboo or resin, we couldn’t tell) assembled with the intricacies of takeami (Japanese bamboo weaving). It was, even at this early stage, easy to see she could win. And it would turn out that Ms Law was the only contestant who showed fabric manipulation (not merely surface embellishment) and the creation of unusual silhouettes that defied the natural contour of the body. While there were hints of Iris van Herpen couture, the clothes were, nonetheless, intriguing and deserved far more merit than what was accorded to her (she was in the top three, but unplaced). To be certain, Ms Law’s work was still not near what could be seen as refinement (and the inner wear used to introduce modesty under the open-work or gauziness looked woefully an afterthought), but the approach and the thinking behind the designs point to possibly more imaginative compositions to come.
Kavita Thulasidas (centre-front) of Stylemart with her winning designs. Photo: Shirl Tan for SOTD
From the first award handed out in 2018 to the one bestowed last night, there was no trajectory that suggested the awardees showed greater potential with each passing year. The standard did not budged. All the other three of the five finalists presented what could have been, at best, graduate collections. Hu Ruixian of HHFX Studio, known for their purported modern take on the qipao, unnerved with ill-construction on a massive scale. She daringly attempted a cartridge-pleat skirt that had the gainly edge of a barrel. As always, Ms Hu was unable to emancipate herself from chinois cuteness. Some trims looked decided cheap, such as the the row of short tassels that fringed a skirt—they could have been those found in Golden Dragon (金龙) Store in People’s Park Centre—those dangles sought after for making hongbao (红包) lanterns during Chinese New Year. Felicia Pang of Feel Archive left us quite incapacitated to feel for any of the half-a-dozen looks she sent out. Swinging from jokey to cheesy, and back again, the only thing consistent in the girly and meretricious collection was the shocking pink platform heels the models wore. The six looks of Claudia Poh of Werable (yes, spelled that way) were haunted by the ghosts of the simply bad, with no garment that appeared to fit. One top with spaghetti straps was a pair of oversized bust-cups that refused to cup. (Perhaps, that is not totally her fault. The ‘models’ for the entire show were Miss Universe Singapore contestants!) Ms Poh preferred the theatre of fashion: Two models with an extra garment each, stopped in the centre of the presentation area. They proceeded to pull the superfluous outfit, which was hung via the shoulder straps on the elbow pit, on top of the other. The point? We rather not hazard a guess.
Someone in the audience was heard saying that the designers “put a lot on one garment”, probably as expression of praise. But, as Ovidia Yu’s protagonist in Aunty Lee’s Delight believes: “people ought to go through the ideas they carried around in their heads as regularly as they turned out their store cupboards. No matter how wisely you shopped, there would be things in the depths that were past their expiration dates or gone damp and moldy—or that has been picked up on impulse and were no longer relevant”. Every writer, no matter how talented, knows the advantages of working with an editor in penning their prose. Unfortunately, fashion designers on our island rarely enjoy the benefits of the process of editing before they put out their final looks. Singapore Stories might have been better told if the narrative was well-shaped and the focus sharpened, with the emphasis on design that befits a design competition. Story-telling in fashion is not new, but the difference between riveting and tedious is a thread-fine line, just as the difference between zingy and scary is a tacky mask. Scream.
We thought we have given enough juice to the rambling disturbance known as Kanye West. Frankly, we are quite bored with his BS (ostensible mental condition aside) and his desperate need to be taken seriously in fashion, and the destructive path he has created in order to secure some recognition. And the people he will hurt—even the dead—to do all that. We have enough of how every little thing could disquiet him, how everyone else has done him wrong, how he cannot be blamed, tamed, and managed. Some people say that we cannot deny that he has talent. So, we won’t: His is to overstate his own.
Disastrously for him, his talent has turned the brand Mr West deeply admires away from him. By now, the news is raging like bush fire, but it still merits sharing. Balenciaga, whose designer Mr West deems the greatest and who was instrumental in the early conception of the Yeezy clothing line, has announced that they want nothing to do with the raving rapper. According to WWD, Kering has issued a statement (after the media wondered why the parent company has remained audibly mum?) to announce their position: “Balenciaga has no longer any relationship nor any plans for future projects related to this artist”. The New York Times reported last month that Yeezy Gap Engineered by Balenciaga would go no further than what was completed.
This dramatic end, or what Mr West might call being cancelled, is perhaps not surprising after it was reported last week that Balenciaga has edited the video of their spring/summer 2023 PFW presentation shared online in which Mr West opened the show, tromping through the muddiest runway Paris ever saw by trimming his part off. The brand has also removed images on their social media showing Mr West in the said show as model, even on the widely-viewed Vogue Runway. And then on the Yeezy Gap website, you no longer find the “Engineered by Balenciaga” selling catchphrase spelled out at any point or corner. Balenciaga is getting serious about the break, even if, at first, surreptitiously.
The brand distancing themselves from Kanye West, however, is no indication that Demna Gvasalia needs to do the same. Mr West and Mr Gvasalia are thought to be “very close”. Their “bromance” is well documented. Last Week, The New York Times, citing “one insider”, reported that the Donda artiste “has been known to refer to himself as Demna’s straight husband”. Both men wanted to be called by their mononym at about the same time. After Mr West opened the Balenciaga show last month, Mr Gvasalia attended the YZY SZN 9 presentation in Paris. The Georgian designer told Vanity Fair last year following his first couture outing for Balenciaga, “There are very few people that I know, especially of that caliber, who really understand what I do.” The relationship between those two, although not entirely clear beyond the professional, is probably harder to untangle.
Update (22 October 2022, 15:00):
Anna Wintour And Vogue’s Turn
Looks like the world’s most powerful editor and her just-as-mighty magazine are taking a stand too: away from Kanye West. According to the New York Post’s Page Six, a Vogue spokesperson told the gossip site “exclusively” that Anna Wintour and her almost-synonymous title do not “intend to work with Kanye West again after his anti-Semitic rants and support for the White Lives Matter cause”. A “source” quoted by Page Six said, “Anna has had enough. She has made it very clear inside Vogue that Kanye is no longer part of the inner circle.” As of now, Vogue online has removed the review of the YZY SZN 9 show. A search on the website turned up the message: “Oops. The page you’re looking for cannot be found”. Writer Luke Leitch’s feature on Mr West seems to have been extirpated too. Ms Wintour has yet to state her position with regards to Mr West’s controversial comments and rants. She was last seen with John Galliano and Demna Gvasalia at the YZY SZN 9 show, but had reportedly left early. It is not known if she was in touch with Mr West after that.