The glamorous image you see of me is not the reality right now. I’m seated cross-legged in my dressing room, with the temporary mah-jong table pulled out and my office computer resting precariously on top. My colour proofs are dangling off my clothes steamer. THAT is my reality. THAT is me working from home. A concept so foreign to me until two weeks ago, when I got back from Paris Fashion Week. I was issued a work-from-home order from my office for 14 days. From the cool glamour of Paris to the hot, humid reality of Singapore, I’m working remotely on an issue celebrating the best of young Hollywood. And while BAZAAR is all about transporting you from the everyday humdrum to a fantasy of wonderful fashion and glorious beauty, I can’t be tone deaf to what’s happening globally.
So, I’ve swapped my Pradas and Diors for comfy cotton tees. I’m keeping it real, no filter, no rose-tinted lenses. Ten days into my “quarantine”, the Google Hangout meetings are driving me crazy, and having to deal with the print medium through a computer screen is frustrating. But it has become the new norm, the new every day. One thing that has changed is people’s attitude. When you strike up conversations, “how are you” isn’t just a greeting; it has become a genuine concern. My apartment block has a lot of older folk and it’s comforting to know that some dear Samaritan has placed bottles of hand sanitiser in the lifts for everyone to use. I’ve offered to help the older folks buy essentials when all the perishables in the local supermarkets were swiped by kiasu Singaporeans because they hear Malaysia is closing its borders.
It angers me no end, but I’ve come to accept that “kiasuism” isn’t idiosyncratic to Singapore—it happens everywhere. We are encouraged to practise social distancing, but this cannot extend to matters of the heart and soul. We need to look out for one another because in these turbulent and uncertain times, it’s not just about avoiding infection, it’s also about how we engage with one another. Yes, don’t congregate. But it shouldn’t stop us from doing nice deeds for others—buying food and that prized toilet roll, and leaving them outside your elderly neighbour’s door; making a call to a friend who’s going through home quarantine. The qualities of neighbourliness, concern and care can transpire to so much more than the act itself. In short, practise “caremongering” (the opposite to scaremongering).
During my enforced work-from-home, I’ve read a little more, explored wider than what I would normally do. And it has made me want to edit the magazine beyond pretty pictures and fashion stories. Yes, BAZAAR is all about showcasing the beautiful, the desirable, the newest and the latest. And we have oodles of that on our pages. On the cover, the dove that you see sitting on the shoulder of young Hollywood star Kiernan Shipka, while beautiful, is also symbolic of peace and harmony. If anything, this pandemic has taught me to look beyond a glossy page or a chic OOTD. Dear readers, do turn on the taps, do lather well with soap and do rinse. But don’t for a moment wash your hands of what we have right here. Take care of one another. Because that’s the new black.
PHOTOGRAPHY: ASHLEY MAK