Editor’s let­ter

Zul An­dra, Editor-in-chief

Esquire (Singapore) - - This Way In -

As chubby kids, my twin brother and I en­joy tak­ing the piss at each other that bor­ders on do­mes­tic vi­o­lence. Yes, shock­ing, I do have a twin. And just as sib­ling stu­pid­ity goes, it can cross the line.

The line we par­tic­u­larly en­joy cross­ing is when the other, face flushed red and is no­tice­ably about to erupt in anger, ex­plodes when the an­tag­o­nist raises a sim­ple thumbs-up. This isn’t like any or­di­nary thumbs-up, dear thumb afi­ciona­dos. It starts with the fist hov­er­ing over the navel and the erected thumb is ex­cru­ci­at­ingly ex­tended out to the vic­tim’s face. This is a fla­grant dis­re­gard to the bro’s, al­ready, neg­a­tive chakra. He loses his shit. Win.

My brother and I un­know­ingly re­branded the thumbs-up in our vast, mean­ing­less world. We just re­duced it to a PR value of mi­nus-what­ever. Un­like other thumbs-up with a PR value of, say, 10, it was so easy to cut the pos­i­tive no­tion of a thumbs-up down to size. This was our de­sign.

But have you ever won­dered how the act of rais­ing a thumb sym­bol­ises ap­proval? Nei­ther have I. Re­ally now, how did a mean­ing­less ges­ture be­come uni­ver­sally mean­ing­ful? Come on, it’s a thumb.

I con­sider two key in­gre­di­ents when cre­at­ing mean­ing from oth­er­wise mean­ing­less things: a pro­nounced ex­pe­ri­ence and, its cat­a­lyst, emo­tions.

Just like how the de­sign of a thumb­sup and -down came to form—re­port­edly to end or spare the life of gladiators in An­cient Rome—works of art are judged by our re­la­tion to it. Re­mem­ber that paint­ing by South African artist, Irma Stern, which was pur­chased for SGD4.8 mil­lion by an auc­tion house in the Middle East? I don’t. But then why does the Mona Lisa make us feel th­ese things in­side of that thing? Vis­ceral stuff.

In our By De­sign is­sue, we take a look at the world’s most fa­mil­iar de­sign in­dus­try, fash­ion, to dis­cover how it im­pacts our cul­ture and, ul­ti­mately, it­self. And who bet­ter to teach us about this com­plex ter­rain other than, in­ter­na­tional male model, Mr Zoolander him­self. (See page 68.) To delve deeper into the re­al­ity of it all, Ben Stiller takes us be­hind-the-scenes of how ex­actly out of con­trol the world it satirises is. (See page 72.) Bonus: to see how lo­cal thes­pian Shane Mard­juki takes on the Blue Steel, head to page 138.

But we aren’t sit­ting by idly watch­ing the fash­ion world, seem­ingly, chang­ing course while be­com­ing more self-aware. We were part of it. Our Stylist, Eu­gene Lim, headed to Mi­lan for an ex­clu­sive photo es­say on Ralph Lau­ren’s pri­vate palazzo. (See page 90.) I also had the op­por­tu­nity to head to Mi­lan, but this time for Dolce & Gab­bana’s haute cou­ture show that ended up with Domenico Dolce in tears. (See page 108.)

From Mi­lan to Paris and New York, we scoured the fash­ion cap­i­tals of the world for the lat­est in to­day’s style. (See page 114.) There’s more. A lot more. I’ll leave the thumb­ing to you.

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