You’re only given one shot at an inaugural Vogue cover, and we’re doing it in the midst of a global pandemic. While it wasn’t quite how we had envisioned launching a magazine, it was important for us to see the silver lining and the privilege we were given in one of the toughest years globally. Our theme, ‘Arise’, is an encouragement to re-embrace the world around us and stand up for the things that matter. There has to be a shift towards the values of what our world post-pandemic will stand for—a bold, innovative product that reflect our commitment to diversity, representation and driving change for good.
When deliberating our cover star, we decided that there wasn’t just one person that could represent what Vogue Singapore was about. We settled on three brilliant women from different parts of Asia, each who make a clear statement of what Vogue Singapore stands for—beauty, innovation, intelligence, sophistication and inclusion. Global supermodel Ju Xiaowen lends an air of elegance and international influence. Diya Prabhakar, Singapore’s own top model, shares what it is like to be an Indian model in the fashion industry. Finally, Nana Komatsu, is part of a new generation of Japanese actresses blessed with the presence and versatility to carry herself from movie sets to magazine covers. For our launch issue, we believed it was important to tell the stories of Ju, Prabhakar and Komatsu—whether it was about their claim to fame, current projects or social issues they feel strongly about.
Ju was shot by renowned fashion photographer Gregory Harris and styled by Vogue Singapore’s International Creative Fashion Director, Daniela Paudice, in the streets of New York. The effusive supermodel, born in Xi’an, China but now based in New York, has graced the catwalks of every fashion brand you can think of, including Louis Vuitton, Fendi and Hermès. While Ju is often lauded with praise for her alluring beauty and the way she energises the runway, she takes none of it for granted and constantly questions her purpose in the industry.
“A turning point came when I had the privilege of working with a very talented photographer. After the session, I had an epiphany about the role and purpose of a model. I realised modelling was simply another language, where I could express and relay thoughts and emotions to an audience—not unlike the way a writer uses words. From that moment, I had a deeper understanding of the work I was doing,” Ju explains.
Prabhakar, though recognised on a smaller scale, is paving her own path in the modelling industry. She represents darker-skinned models with her blend of advertence and ambition. “I still do think it’s important for brands to have diversity. I have showed up to some jobs and I’m the only brown person in the room, but increasingly, people all over the world are becoming more aware that representation is important and that’s the way it should have been from the start anyway,” Prabhakar says.
For Prabhakar’s cover story, we wanted a series of images that sat on the crossroads between fashion and technology, while taking our readers into a world of pure fantasy and escapism. We worked with photographer Bryan Huynh and CGI artist, Rodolfo Hernandez, to create gorgeous 3D dream landscapes that will transport you into an alternate universe.
To complete the triptych of covers is Komatsu, shot on film by Fish Zhang in a hotel in Tokyo via Zoom. Her latest movie Threads—Our Tapestry of Love was filmed in Singapore last year. She speaks about a poignant scene in the movie, where a mother tells a little girl to be considerate to others and to hug anyone who is feeling sad. In a post-pandemic world, Komatsu hopes that we can move towards a kinder world where people can physically express their love for one another. “It made me realise more than ever how important human connection is,” Komatsu says.
All three covers feature an elliptical ‘window’ as a visual cue to tie the photographic approaches together—and our cover stars defy this window as we arise amidst COVID-19. Using lively experimental type and confident swathes of colour, the design approach is vibrant, arresting and joyful. The launch issue also debuts our bespoke Vanda typeface, inspired by the twisting curves of an orchid and undulating Malay script.
Step into a new era of fashion.
Ju Xiaowen cover credits
Photographer: Gregory Harris
Stylist: Daniela Paudice
Hair: Adlena/Bryant Artists
Make-up: Benjamin Puckey
Production: Alana Goldmann
Diya Prabhakar cover credits
Photographer: Bryan Huynh
Stylist: Desmond Lim
CGI Artist: Rodolfo Hernandez
Director of Photography: Vanessa Caitlin
Hair: Christian Marianon
Make-up: Cheryl Ow
Production assistants: Andy Leow, Zhan
Stylist assistant: Joey Tan
Nana Komatsu cover credits
Photographer: Fish Zhang
Fashion Stylist: Xander Ang
Hair: Takeshi Katoh at SEPT Inc.
Make-Up: Kie Kiyohara at Beauty Direction
Model: Nana Komatsu at Stardust
Producer: Hiroki Sekiguchi at ID Management
Production assistant: Mayumi Yamanaka at Yamanaka Management
Photographer assistants: Hiroshi Asakura, Shun Fukasawa
Stylist assistants: Masatoshi Ota, Maiko Shibukawa
Location: Hotel Gajoen Tokyo
Special thanks to Junko Omi and Hotel Gajoen Tokyo
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