“Oh, and the headband stays on,” says my art director of Earn Chen’s prerequisite for gracing the cover of this month’s issue. Prior to this, my only exposure to terry cloth headband as a necessary accessory was in a Wes Anderson fi lm about a quirky, dysfunctional family. And the character wearing it was fictional.
But in the same way that we at The Peak respect chief executives who insist that their hair not be touched for a photo shoot, we acquiesced to Chen’s request. It’s all about projection of image, and Chen, with his headband, long hair and shaggy wear, knows what exactly he wants – even if he attracts undue attention.
You have to admire individuals like him who have the confidence to carve a sartorial path for themselves, who risk mass ridicule to make a statement about who they are; people who have the guts to experiment and pioneer new grounds. People like Cara Delevingne, who sported a bald, silver pate at the Met Gala this year. She made chopping off one’s hair cool rather than crazy, as Britney’s act was perceived years ago.
Celebrity status helps, but Chen has been championing a niche brand of underground cool for close to two decades, way before he was acknowledged as a trendsetter. That luxury labels are now turning to some of these names to inject pizzazz into their collections attests to his foresight. Take the recent queues here for Louis Vuitton x Supreme products. Chen brought the latter to Singapore a decade ago.
So, while his insistence on the headband took me by surprise, I checked my it’s-too-avant-garde objection. If Gucci stocks it, it’s all good.