By Tiffany Ap
with contributions from Fiona Ma
 on February 28, 2019

BEIJING East meets west — likely no other phrase is used more to describe the city of Hong Kong, and it was this that informed the direction for the inaugural covers of Vogue Hong Kong, the 25th edition of the publication, which were unveiled on Friday morning.

Photographed by Nick Knight, the three distinct covers see models Gigi Hadid and Sun Fei Fei — one western and one Asian face — each front a cover solo, and a third with them together.

All three versions of Vogue Hong Kong's first issue.

All three versions of Vogue Hong Kong’s first issue.  Courtesy

“We wanted to do something that represented Hong Kong and it’s always been a mix of east and west,” said Vogue Hong Kong publisher Desiree Au.

“Gigi has a very city vibe and strong sense of energy and is dynamic, which I felt is very Hong Kong,” Au said, while Sun Fei Fei “is obviously Chinese but has made it big in the west as well. We wanted somebody from Asia but also with a very international outlook.”

The tome, which sees Peter Wong as its editorial director, runs more than 350 pages and the cover shoot highlights Chanel clothes from the spring 2019 haute couture collection, specifically mentioning Karl Lagerfeld.

How prescient was this to pay homage to the recently passed fashion icon? Au shared that just a week from publication changes were still being made.

“Can you imagine? Pushing printing to basically a week before but this is the beauty of Hong Kong,” she said. “Distribution is fast, printing is fast. We’re really able to get things that are last minute into the magazine.…This is very Hong Kong.”

The print copies, which number “between 35,000 to 40,000,” are sold for 50 Hong Kong dollars, and are available at newsstands, convenience stores, and via other partners like airline lounges and hotels. The magazine has also struck a deal with the high-end shopping mall, the Landmark, to be a content partner. A yearly subscription offers a 30 percent discount and a leather iPhone case with “Vogue Hong Kong” inscribed on it by Casetify, a Hong Kong-founded company.

The publication, which Condé Nast International emphasized as a multimedia platform, had begun to drum up hype over the last few weeks with videos on social media featuring a series of starlets including Isabella Leong, Karena Lam, Angela Yuen, Cecilia Cheung, and Angelababy.

Au also clarified that she didn’t see the choice of Gigi Hadid as potentially controversial. While Hadid was allegedly accused of racism against Chinese people and was reportedly barred from entering mainland China to walk in the 2017 Victoria’s Secret fashion show in Shanghai, Au responded that Hong Kong keeps its own view on Hadid. “What happens in Hong Kong is completely independent than other places in the world,” she said.

What made Au particular proud is the magazine’s strong cultural bent, which she detailed comes in a stand-alone section and distinguishes it from other country editions of Vogue.

“With Hong Kong being an important art hub — we have a vibrant art and culture scene — we want to pay tribute to that. It’s a 30-page culture section, it’s pretty significant for a fashion magazine,” Au said.

While the publisher didn’t rule out that readers in mainland China and Taiwan could be interested in the magazine as well as editions for their own regions, Au noted that she “did not create that magazine to appeal to a super broad audience,” and suggested that it would be compelling to the large Hong Kong diaspora, which have created overseas communities in places like Canada, the U.S. and the U.K.

“They very much miss Hong Kong and want to know about things from Hong Kong,” she said. “I don’t think it’s just people from Taiwan or China. It could be an overseas Chinese who spent time in Hong Kong when they were young and could be interested in what’s going on in their hometown.”

“Hong Kong is a strong luxury market, and acts as an international shopping cross-point for the whole of Asia,” said Karina Dobrotvorskaya, executive director of editorial development at CNI.

“It has an enormous appetite for high fashion brands as well as modern art, offering a diverse mix of fashion and art, local and international, tradition and innovation,” Dobrotvosrkaya added. “Hong Kong is a vibrant and unique island with its own cool style and voice. We hope that our new Vogue will convey this distinctive voice and swirling energy.”

As for the celebrations, that will come a little bit later. The magazine will host a party on March 19 at the Rosewood Hotel, which will only have opened officially two days prior, to take advantage of the crowd that comes into town for art week in the city.

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