Female (Singapore) - - CONTENTS - – NL

It’s un­canny that I’m writ­ing this just hours af­ter hav­ing watched Chanel’s Metiers d’Art show live, this time at the Met in New York. For a long while now, the French lux­ury mai­son has been pre­sent­ing this ex­trav­a­gant an­nual col­lec­tion in a des­ti­na­tion close to Made­moi­selle Gabrielle Chanel’s heart to cel­e­brate the crafts of the spe­cial­ity ate­liers it owns (the cos­tume jew­ellery/but­ton maker Des­rues and em­broi­dery house Lesage, for ex­am­ple). Sim­i­larly, that’s what we’ve set out to do with this fourth edi­tion of our Art & De­sign Is­sue that’s out every Jan­uary: recog­nise the work and beauty of the hu­man touch, and a re­ver­sion to the anti-dig­i­tal.

The small but thriv­ing zine com­mu­nity that writer Keng Yang Shuen dis­cov­ered here in Sin­ga­pore (pg 76) was the cat­a­lyst. The irony of fea­tur­ing a scene prac­ti­cally an­tithe­sis to us as an es­tab­lished fash­ion and beauty mag­a­zine – the pub­li­ca­tions are small, of­ten pho­to­copied and hand­bound, and per­sonal to the point of ran­dom – is not lost on us. But if you think about it, a zine is not un­like a blog: a thor­oughly free space for self-ex­pres­sion. That mil­len­ni­als and Gen Zs are em­brac­ing the medium de­spite the easy ac­cess to so­cial me­dia is a heart­warm­ing sign, while the world de­bates on the creative and psy­cho­log­i­cal fall­out of ex­ces­sive dig­i­tal con­tent.

Else­where in our 72-page spe­cial (it starts from pg 42), some of the city’s most thought-pro­vok­ing con­tem­po­rary artists walk us through their “slow” mode of op­er­a­tion. The thing that in­trigued me most is how their re­sult­ing works are so com­plex and de­tailed, it’s hard to tell if they were made by hand or tech­nol­ogy. Vis­ual artist Stu­art Chen and Sandi Tan, newly minted queen of the lo­cal film in­dus­try with her hyp­notic doc­u­men­tary Shirk­ers, rely on both (Chen’s con­tri­bu­tion starts on pg 52 and Tan’s in­ter­view, pg 90), though their works tend to pos­sess a ’90s lo-fi qual­ity.

This Is­sue is not an at­tempt to lam­baste the dig­i­tal age. The team and I would not be able to find half of our news­mak­ers and creative in­spi­ra­tions with­out In­sta­gram, and you would not have been able to read a thing I’ve said here if I had hand­writ­ten this. And nei­ther is it meant to be nos­tal­gic. As we en­ter the new year (and it’s go­ing to be a big one for us – keep your eyes peeled, es­pe­cially on our dig­i­tal plat­forms), we sim­ply thought it apt to re­mem­ber “the ba­sics”. The medium might in­flu­ence the mes­sage, but it all starts with what you have and want to say.

The magic of ar­ti­sans on full dis­play at Chanel’s Egyp­tian-in­spired Metiers d’Art 2019 show at the Met’s Tem­ple of Den­dur ex­hibit last month

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