Stefanie Sun Opens Up About The Power Of Trusting Your Gut
Harper's BAZAAR Singapore|November 2021
National treasure and Mandopop queen Stefanie Sun opens up about making art, touching hearts and the power of trusting your gut.
Jeffrey Yan

The BAZAAR team is assembled at a massive industrial space in the far eastern corner of the island and it’s a momentous occasion. We’re here to shoot the cover of our 20th-anniversary issue with Stefanie Sun, one of Singapore’s biggest and most influential musical exports, who is reprising her role as cover girl 16 years after she last fronted our 2005 issue. The 43-year-old singer is decked out in the latest finery from the likes of Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Miu Miu, dripping in Cartier jewels, and she is relishing the opportunity to play dress up. “In my day-to-day life, I like to be as fuss-free as possible, so I have a uniform—I’m pretty much always in a t-shirt. When I was younger, I thought fashion was this empowering, exciting, thrilling thing. I still feel the same, but now, I don’t feel the need to own it. That’s why I like doing fashion shoots; it’s a chance to indulge in the fantasy side of fashion,” says Sun of her relationship with fashion today.

The shoot is special not just because we’re shooting Sun—who has mastered the art of being mega famous even while she remains elusive—but also because it marks an unprecedented collaboration with three young Singaporean artists who have made craft a central part of their artistic expression. On set with us are Kelly Limerick, who explores the idea of the domestic space through the mediums of crochet and knit; Ashley Yeo, whose intricate, delicate paper-cutting made her the first Singaporean to be shortlisted for the LOEWE FOUNDATION Craft Prize (2018); and Tiffany Loy, who brings a new dimension to soft sculpture with her textile and woven works.

At the shoot, Sun takes a clear interest in all of their works and engages them in deep conversation about their practices. “When I heard that we were going to work with artists, I was quite excited—a fashion shoot is usually about clothes, so I thought this added a really nice dimension. They’re all extremely talented,” she stresses. “Tiffany works with this medium that I think has a lot of potential—it’s almost like she created this new medium; by experimenting with threads, she changed the tensility. And I got to talk to Kelly, and we were sharing our experiences being an artist [and an artiste] in Singapore, and our frustrations—it felt like we connected, and it’s nice to connect to people in similar fields and with similar experiences.”

Despite starting her own creative journey more than 20 years ago, Sun sees parallels in their experiences. “Talking to Kelly, our general view is that there seems to be this conception that it’s too comfortable in Singapore,” she says. “As an artiste, you can’t show how much you struggle; you can’t say this is what I’m fighting against. Because what are you fighting against when you are so comfortable? But choosing to be here, choosing to make this our base, that is an active choice. Still, it’s hard to find ways to break out of certain moulds, I feel.”

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