I HAVE TO admit I’ve had Myanmar on my mind since last March — right from the moment our guide spirited us away from Yangon’s international airport in an MPV with seat covers sprinkled with pink interlocking “Cs” (Chanel, anyone?).
There’s just something dierent about the former capital that’s hard to put a finger on. Perhaps it’s the way the city of five million “bustles gently” (a turn of phrase courtesy of author Caroline Courtauld), its colonial architecture, the gilded stupas, or the way locals have a certain grace and a regal bearing. Whatever it was, I was intoxicated. And it had absolutely nothing to do with the local red and white wines from the hills of Shan State that the general manager of our boutique hotel introduced us to.
We were merely passing through on our way to Bagan and without research, knew little of what young people get up to in Yangon. But we knew of Shwedagon Pagoda, the country’s most sacred Buddhist shrine. It was while making our way there in our “C”-hariot that I caught a quick glimpse of what I thought was a wine-induced mirage: A Reebonz boutique. Even KFC with 15,000 restaurants worldwide was still a few months from opening in the country, surely it couldn’t be the luxury e-tailer?
Except, it wasn’t my imagination. A year later, I’ve finally put two and two together. I’ve even met one of the persons who had a role in bringing in what is thought to be the country’s first multilabel luxury boutique: Our cover girl, Daphne Teo.
Chief investment ocer of D3 Capital, the Singaporean oversees the development of Golden City, a 10-tower luxury project in Yangon just 10 minutes from Shwedagon Pagoda. One of the development’s earliest strategic partnerships was inked with Reebonz, which really did open its first concept store within the Golden City showroom.
Also changing the Yangon landscape is the Pun family, who left Myanmar after the military coup and found success elsewhere in Asia before returning with big dreams in play. Second son, Cyrus, heads their real estate developments, including a 135-acre satellite town and the upcoming transformation of the 19th century Burma Railway Company Headquarters into the Yangon Peninsula Hotel. He graces the cover of this month’s Wealth supplement. (It’s his family that holds the master franchise to KFC in the country.)
Just as they have seized opportunities in the former Burma, we devote our July issue to those unafraid to follow their calling — be it as a profession, for their art, a cause, or even for better personal well- being.
FASHION DIRECTION JOHNNY KHOO
ART DIRECTION AUDREY CHAN PHOTOGRAPHY WEE KHIM
FASHION STYLING JACQUIE ANG
HAIR EDWARD CHONG EVOLVE MAKE UP CINDY GOH USING SHISEIDO PHOTOGRAPHY ASSISTANCE ELTON CHONG INTERN NUR SYAHZANANI DRESS, BRASSIERE AND KNICKERS, MICA(P) 118/12/2015 ALL FROM DOLCE GABBANA