joseph schooling

In an ode to the iconic cover of Steve McQueen from the February 1965 issue of Harper’s BAZAAR US, the Singapore edition—a mere teen at 16-and-a-half-years-old—has put its first solo man on the main cover. Joseph Schooling, all goofy smiles and puppy dog eyes, is arguably Singapore’s newest and most lauded icon. When the then 21-year-old won Singapore its first Olympic gold in 2016 in Rio De Janeiro, the wave of nationalistic pride was palpable. Such patriotism had not been seen since the loss of Singapore’s founding father, Lee Kuan Yew, the year before.

steve mcqueen
The original Steve McQueen cover from February 1965. Photo: © The Richard Avedon Foundation

Schooling came back and did a victory parade around Singapore, a privilege normally reserved for winning politicians at election time. He was granted an audience with parliament and, overnight, made swimming a sport that Singaporean parents and kids alike aspired to take up and legitimately carve into a career. “No one would’ve guessed a Singaporean would’ve won [gold] at the Olympics. And once you start breaking mental barriers like that, you’ll see more successes follow,” says Schooling in our interview with him.

When I met this charming young man at our cover shoot in L.A., he was incredibly warm, sincere and down to earth. His affable nature and charming personality make him instantly likeable—politician material indeed, if he ever decides to run for public office. For now, he trains like crazy, eats like a horse (he smuggled two muffins from the breakfast table for later, in case he got hungry at the shoot, he admitted) and downs a couple of tequilas to relax and unwind after the shoot.

joseph schooling
Schooling at the 2016 Olympic Games

We also profile 15 trailblazers in our round-up of the most impressive young icons in Singapore today—men and women who have changed the way we travel, eat, play and shop in Singapore. And, to inspire, we showcase some of the most brilliant fashion from technologically dazzling haute couture to the weird and wonderful pre-fall extravaganza. Because in life, you have to dream big—just like how a certain water baby did to give this Little Red Dot its first taste of Olympic gold.

—Kenneth Goh, Editor-in-Chief 

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Photographed by Yu Tsai. Styled by Robert Behar. Joseph Schooling wears wool and silk made-to-measure tuxedo; cotton and silk tuxedo shirt; silk bow tie, BOSS. Adele Uddo/StarTouch Agency wears pink gold, mother-of-pearl, carnelian and diamond Bouton d’or ring; pink gold and diamond Perlée bracelets; pink gold, white gold, mother-of-pearl, carnelian and diamond Bouton d’or bracelets, Van Cleef & Arpels. Makeup artist: Paul Blanch/Opus Beauty using Sisley. Hair stylist: Rob Talty/Forward Artists. Manicurist: Christina Aviles/Opus Beauty. On the nails: Chanel Le Vernis in Pirate. Production: 88 Phases. Digital imaging: Luis Jaime. Styling assistant: Aquiles Carmona.