This is the fourth editor’s letter that I’ve written whilst seated at my makeshift desk in my makeshift office (aka mahjong table in the dressing room). It is far from ideal. But then life as we know it has totally changed. I find myself working incredibly long hours as the spaces for work and home merge into one. I yearn for pre-Covid times but I know that the new norm—with all its WFH trappings— is the new reality. As I give advice on how to shop for your new pre-fall wardrobe, and my editors talk to designers about The New World Order (page 38), and what’s been inspiring them as they design from home in The Great Indoors (page 48), I ask myself what else do our readers want in times like this. I believe that we return to the basic human values of love, compassion and hope.
On our cover this month, we have the beautiful Ashley Graham and her son, Isaac, born just months before the global lockdown. Read her endearing love note to her son which she wrote while on quarantine in her hometown of Nebraska (page 84). Resetting my sights 2,000km away to the east coast of the US, I got model and actress Victoria Lee to style herself at her New York home, and to talk about what matters most to her as she sits in a city that’s besieged with a whole host of viral issues right now (page 106). Then, I added humour to the editorial mix because, in times of crises, nothing quite recharges us for the challenges ahead than a good ol’ laugh. Stars like Tiffany Haddish and Celeste Barber, reigning queens of comedy, are blessed with satirical skills that ensure we split our sides with every social media post, skit or movie that bares their talent. Turn to page 96 and page 100 to see them at their guffawing best.
Finally, I threw the spotlight on a topic that matters so much to me, and to a whole host of Singaporeans: A subset of the population who have been hit the hardest by the coronavirus. The unseen, unheard and unrecognised, it wasn’t until Covid-19 crept into their dorms and devastated their lives that they were thrust into the nation’s eye. The spread of the virus in the dormitories, where many of the 300,000 migrant workers in Singapore live, raged like wildfire—resulting in over 94 percent of Singapore’s total number of infections that now tally over 40,000. This became a national issue. I reached out to a friend of mine, Serene Goh, who has been sharing about the volunteer efforts for migrant workers on Facebook and WhatAreYouDoing.sg. Seeing the moving pictures that her photographer colleague, Bryan van der Beek, took of this vulnerable community, isolated and quarantined in dormitories, I knew I had to do something, anything, to highlight their plight to the wider community. These two stellar StraitsTimes–trained veterans volunteer their time and risk their health to help a marginalised society in Singapore. I hope you love what Serene wrote, and marvel at the images that Bryan shot, in Perfect Strangers (page 121). Because, in a world that is united in fighting this virus, we cannot leave behind the men who have helped build our city to be the First World country that we all call home. Let’s welcome these strangers as friends, help forge ties and build connections stronger and better than what we are.
—Kenneth Goh, Editor-in-Chief
Photographer: Justin Ervin
Photographer’s assistant: Michael Schuler