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Vogue Singapore
Vogue Singapore is the undisputed fashion authority that empowers and inspires through elevated imagery and intelligent stories to drive change for good
By Maya Menon
12 October 2022
Vogue Singapore marks its second anniversary with the unveiling of its Club Vogue Singapore lounge on which sees NFTs of both iconic and new images from some of the world’s most prolific photographers. Here, the image makers delve into their journeys of melding the physical and digital
If you have been keeping up with new technological endeavours, chances are you have already seen Vogue Singapore’s interactive September issue cover. A year on from a one-of-a kind NFT issue, a bespoke virtual world on VR platform—created in tandem with 3D design agency,—was a natural next step.
In response to Vogue‘s global theme of ‘Fashion’s New World’, readers were catapulted into a surrealist-inspired VR universe that featured images of supermodel Lina Zhang by local photographer Zantz Han. It also unveiled an AI-generated beauty shoot by digital creator Terry Gates and virtual designs courtesy of digital couturier Yimeng Yu. In a Vogue first, readers were able to interact with the cover through the interface Backslash, as well.
As we celebrate Vogue Singapore’s second anniversary this October, our digital realm seeks to expand even further. With a mission to bridge fashion with innovation, an exclusive Vogue Singapore lounge, called Club Vogue Singapore, has been unveiled, in line with the theme of ‘Rebirth’. This lounge features designs by digital fashion retailer DressX and accessories by The Fabricant.
While these futuristic creations will be available to wear in the metaverse, the spirit of metamorphosis is explored from another approach, too. Touching on both the old and new works of four prolific photographers—namely, Nick Knight, Ellen von Unwerth, Liz Collins and Chen Man—each image has been minted as an NFT and will be sold as a one of one on NFT marketplace Brytehall as part of the Forever Fashion-able Collection.
Curating the works of these photographers alongside Vogue Singapore is CEO of MAD Global, Ashumi Sanghvi, a multidisciplinary creative, producer and curator. Shares Sanghvi of the collaboration: “For this project, I started off with a long list of image makers and creative visionaries who have all played a pivotal part in shaping our visual understanding of the fashion world. I also wanted to highlight some women image makers as it is very important to the work I do to showcase photography through a female lens. Along the way, I spent time with photographers in their studios and went through impressive collections of their personal work and archive. Many of them are not part of this drop but I am working closely with them to bring their work to this new world of Web 3.0.”
Here, Knight, von Unwerth, Collins and Chen delve into their collections, the future of fashion and technology as well as what rebirth means to them.
As far as shaping the industry goes, British fashion image-maker Nick Knight has long claimed the pivotal role of trailblazer, innovator and daredevil. To date, he boasts an unparalleled Rolodex that includes being the founder and director of SHOWstudio—which innovated and then popularised the fashion show live stream—as well as the visionary behind some of pop culture’s most unforgettable music videos, from Lady Gaga’s ‘Born This Way’ to Kanye West’s ‘24’. Now, Knight is making his first foray into the metaverse with his NFT drop, ‘ikon–1’, which features the likeness of model and Instagram star Jazzelle Zanaughtti. The collection consists of 8,000 artworks and was the result of a collaboration with 40 designers.
On the melding of fashion and technology:
Photography has always been propelled forward by this quest of seeing the world in a new way. Who would know what the world would look like when it’s on fire? I think that’s the photographer or image-maker’s role, to show something people cannot see. I think people do get caught up that photography is the main thing and anything else is trickery, so you get all these negative tropes and comments about the Internet, NFTs and the metaverse.
On ikon-1:
The idea with ‘ikon-1’ was to start working with 40 different digital designers. I was starting to see the emergence of digital-only designers, so people were creating garments only in the digital form. We contacted them and asked if they wanted to create a piece of clothing for ‘ikon-1’. It was the first major show of digital fashion and it occurred to me that Jazelle of @uglyworldwide is now the person with the biggest digital wardrobe in the world. If you want to go to a digital event, you can come dressed in anything you want.
“Rebirth looks like something to do with the soul, to do with love, to do with poetry, to do with beauty. The young artists, be it Schiaparelli or Horst or whoever we look at in the history of fashion image-making, wanted to create something.”
On the meaning of rebirth:
Rebirth looks like something to do with the soul, to do with love, to do with poetry, to do with beauty. The young artists, be it Schiaparelli or Horst or whoever we look at in the history of fashion image-making, wanted to create something. One of the most important things is how we dress. That’s who we are. How we actually appear to people is our first communication with people. In my opinion, it’s one of the most important art forms that we have, so I always believe fashion is art.
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Sexual, powerful, unstoppable: such are the subjects of German model-turned-photographer Ellen von Unwerth. With faces such as Claudia Schiffer, Rihanna and Pamela Anderson in her repertoire, von Unwerth, who notes her shift from being in front of the camera to behind it as one of her greatest strengths, has built a career on reclaiming female sexuality. As recently as October of last year, von Unwerth released her first NFT collection. Dubbed the Supermodel NFT series, it consisted of five of her most iconic images, from Naomi Campbell to Kate Moss, among others. Today, she is making her foray into a new chapter in the metaverse as part of Vogue Singapore’s Spatial launch. “I think for Vogue Singapore to do this first launch, it’s a great idea,” she enthuses.
On the melding of fashion and technology:
Well, I think it’s interesting, it’s a step forward. I will say, art is like Picasso. Sometimes, it’s paint, sometimes it’s a brush. I think it’s a new way of expressing art and reaching different audiences by moving on to new technology. I mean, it’s very complex and difficult to understand at times.
On what makes an iconic image:
I think an iconic image is something that catches you, which is haunting. One that you want to look back on. It has a moment or an expression that really touches you.
“I think an iconic image is something that catches you, which is haunting. One that you want to look back on.”
On the meaning of rebirth:
There are so many ways fashion and photography have been used, starting from analogue photography and then going to digital. There are many ways you can alter your images, which you couldn’t do before. Before you could retouch a little bit, you could play with the light and the printing, but now you can add words and so on. But sometimes there’s so much that you can lose yourself too because it’s difficult to keep your own identity.
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There are few photographers who boast a style that is as distinctive as that of Beijing-born visual artist and photographer Chen Man. Known for her hyper-realistic and manipulated portraits, Chen forged a path for cultural commentary through imagery. Her first big stint fresh out of the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing proved to be her most pivotal. Tasked to create a series of covers for Chinese art magazine Vision, Chen sought to bridge the gap between tradition and boundary-breaking. Implementing elements of graphic design and cinematography, each image in her arsenal teeters on the surreal.
On her selected archive images:
These images were selected to illustrate the power of women. Women are like water; the power they have is subtle yet endless, like dripping water through stone. Images in the metaverse help to open up boundaries and make things more convenient.
“These images were selected to illustrate the power of women. Women are like water; the power they have is subtle yet endless, like dripping water through stone.”
On looking forward for inspiration:
I don’t use myself as a standard or reference point for my own projects. Repetition is a disease, so I try not to repeat what others have done. I don’t even repeat my own work. But even if it is not repeated, there still needs to be a primary line because the audience needs to have one to continue to reinforce. This will help to strengthen the style and the story line. By doing so, the audience will understand what you want to express and who you are, so it’s a balanced design. The things that I’m sensitive to and constantly learning about in this world are mostly things other than photography.
On the meaning of rebirth:
Clean up, restart and set out again.
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Kate Moss, Gigi Hadid, Kaia Gerber—these are the names of some of the supermodel sitters that come to mind when thinking about British photographer, Liz Collins. Having studied under Martin Parr and graduating from the University of Surrey, Collins quickly found her stride in a male-dominated industry. Ardent followers will come to notice her expertise: dynamic yet elegant images focused on harnessing female empowerment. “Having a photographic archive that spans over 30 years, of which 50 percent is analogue, I often get asked to revisit the archive for retrospective usages. It is a place of mixed emotions for me,” shares Collins. Encapsulating this perfectly is Collins’ selected artwork, ‘Les Femmes’.
On the melding of fashion and technology:
Working with photography and film, the merging of the worlds of technology and tradition are advantageous, increasing both efficiency and creativity. In camera and post-production, technology is boundary-breaking. The world of film and photography has found new use thanks to CGI and immersive streaming. The doors are open to parallel creativity.
“Working with photography and film, the merging of the worlds of technology and tradition are advantageous, increasing both efficiency and creativity.”
On her selected archive image:
The image was photographed in 2020, yet could have been taken in 1920. Although timeless, it has an underlying environmental narrative to me. The woman is wearing a Patagonia Yulez wetsuit which is 85 percent natural rubber and reef-safe, Earth-friendly and fair trade. It is a physical shield to the freezing temperatures of the water but is made by utilising nature. Photographically, the image is made in a more environmentally safe way than the polluting alternative of analogue film. It was shot at the River Dart, Devon, which is a great source of natural inspiration to me.
On the meaning of rebirth:
To me, rebirth is a new beginning in an emotional or creative environment with the experience and knowledge of a life previously lived.
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Become a Club Vogue member to receive 12 issues of the magazine, a Vogue Singapore tote bag, an exclusive bundle of gifts, as well as playing a part to support the local creative industry.
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