“MY MUM TAUGHT me early on to ‘fight or flight’ and it’s stuck with me,” says our February cover star Karen Mok. Since our interview, this statement has stuck with me too because in a world where flight is currently not an option, literally or figuratively, how do we fight against drifting along in the unknown and, more importantly, how do we prevail?
Such thoughts have taken up a lot of thinking space in the limbo between the new year of January and the new year of February. Something about Chinese New Year and its mythology of chasing away the beast of yesteryear – its clanging, its colour, its traditions – carries with it a fighting spirit that helps to simultaneously anchor as it propels us into a better unknown.
So we start this issue off with the familiar – some well wishes in our fashion shoot “health, wealth and good fortune” ( page 18) – before we dig in to what it means to be an Asian designer in the global fashion landscape today by talking to Fashion Asia’s cohort of 10 Designers to Watch ( page 30). We speak to Sarah Lee and Christine Chang, two women who brought Korean beauty to international shores ( page 42) and in “don’t play with your food” ( page 48) we showcase this season’s brightest jewels precisely by playing with our fruit and veg because it’s in joy and play that transformation occurs and good things happen.
We’ve taken care to round up a host of people that embody curiosity and daring. Cover star
Karen Mok attributes these qualities to having been the driving force throughout her 28-year career ( page 68). Cecilia Cheung and Christoffer Cheng both have full-time careers (athlete and dentist, respectively) but decided to take on a second one out of sheer excitement for what might come of the unfamiliar ( page 81).
We couldn’t think of any couple more suited to ringing in Valentine’s Day with us this year than newly engaged couple Kayla Wong and Elaine Chen-Fernandez, who made conscious efforts to show their relationship on social media to fight against stigma in a conservative society ( page 90).
And because art and culture is ripe ground for new ideas, we spotlight four young people in
Hong Kong who hope to transform the city one piece of art at a time. Our features this month also include interviews with artist Bouke de Vries ( page 106), whose work went viral last summer, and popular architect and interior designer JJ Acuna ( page 110) as well as a probe into the ins and outs of cultural appropriation ( page 114).
After a challenge comes a break and we round off with dumplings master Brendan Pang
( page 116) and a piece on private islands ( page 124) to keep us all dreaming of the day we can once again physically reach a wilder shore.