5 magazine covers that prove there's still hope for the Malaysian media industry

WE'VE seen it all. The often over-the-top but rarely striking covers of Malaysian magazines creep into our periphery every time we hit our local bookstores, little general shops or newsstands by the road. Perhaps a loved one is a die-hard fan of all things Malaysian entertainment, so much so that you can’t help but to notice the glossies (and their aforementioned cringe-worthy covers) every time you pay a visit to the said person.

Or maybe it’s a case of guilty pleasure: you pick up now and then a local read to subconsciously be proven wrong, only to be proven right (I'm admittedly guilty of this in particular).

Why are these magazine covers bemusing and unnerving by default? Why, just why are they not forces to be reckon with? The blatant reason to this is almost always the uncertain stylistic directions these covers represent. In a world where the pairing of strongly saturated colors and dizzying prints are atypical and fashion trends are broadcasted without vouching for the factor of suitability, it’s hard not to feel super queasy every time this misdirection, undyingly encapsulated by many local covers, crosses my sight and therefore my mind.

Too often, the styling does not bring out the best and most honest in the publicised celebrities and public personas, so one can’t help but to feel lost in translation. The media tells us constantly that, via a single glance, we’re supposed to look up to these people and the fashion trends they help perpetuate, but just how do we do that when it all doesn’t feel natural? More often than not, these people don’t even look natural themselves!

So in the end, how do we truly know when the art of making good magazine covers are finally done right in our country? It is when the very essence of the people profiled by our magazines is brought forth and accentuated, instead of camouflaged. We can just feel the love in the air... especially when the fashion looks employed to concoct the cover image look natural and inspirational on them.

Here are 5 examples of well-done local covers that prove that there’s still a slice of hope for the local media to improve and dissolve their inhibitions from true creativity, wherever fashion and styling is concerned.


GLAM Lelaki – Faizal Hussein (April 2014)

Faizal Hussein
Faizal Hussein on the cover of Glam Lelaki


Actor Faizal Hussein is no stranger to the local film industry. The roles undertaken by him are as varied and thought-provoking as one can imagine while being on the receiving end of this versatile veteran’s art. His quiet, relaxed persona in real life further emphasises the beautiful enigma surrounding his form and longstanding career – and no magazine could have picked up on it better than Glam Lelaki (April 2014 issue).

Dressed in a dashing getup that’s all Burberry right down to the tie, Faizal Hussein has never looked better as he posed for the camera. With one hand at the waist and the other candidly covering his mouth, the actor looked to be as if in deep contemplation, in a quiet manner truly signature of his form. His attire seemed to follow suit: muted and crisply structured, each piece of the clothing featured lent a classically tailored allure to Faizal Hussein.


ELLE Malaysia – Michelle Yeoh (March 2014)
 
Michelle Yeoh on the cover of ELLE Malaysia
Aimed to level with the standards of its predecessors in the ELLE family, ELLE Malaysia unveiled its first issue (March 2014) with a high-profile bang. For astutely gracing the magazine's first cover with a bedazzling presence was Tan Sri Michelle Yeoh herself. The screen siren – who made us all proud when she rose to international stardom exclusive only to Western Hollywood A-listers once upon a time – was a breathtaking vision in Christian Dior. Her gown, with its light-reflecting surface and rigid silhouette, is an overwhelming presence that’s typical of the brand, but Yeoh managed to tame it with her signature minimalist allure and made the look all her own, thus proving the old adage that we should always wear our clothes, and not the clothes, us.


The Peak – Tan Sri Ng Teck Fong (August 2014)

Ng Teck Fong
Ng Teck Fong on the cover of The Peak


This cover, had it not be done so right, could have come across as a trickily stoic presentation, what with The Peak being a high society lifestyle title dedicated to explore and report on the finer things in life. But instead of resorting to the usually serious portrait shot to illustrate the chosen personality, a story-like context was injected into the magazine’s August 2014 cover.

Fronted by businessman Tan Sri Ng Teck Fong, the cover was different than usual – it was strangely lightweight and foggily fun. Ng could have looked business-like in his sharp black suit, had it not been for the black bowler hat sitting on his head and the accompanying magnifying glass in his hand. His facial expression was a joyous one that seemed to leave no room for insincerity – a possible result of the businessman being able to dapperly take some time off his busy corporate schedule and playing Sherlock Holmes for a change.


Cosmopolitan Malaysia Yuna (August 2014)

Yuna on the cover of Cosmopolitan Malaysia


This Cosmopolitan Malaysia cover was a breath of fresh air, with Yuna taking center stage in the magazine’s August 2014 issue. While the overall dose of purple is usually too saturated and strong for my taste and those with a fellow penchant for minimalism, it’s well suited to the internationally acclaimed songstress… because vibrancy is indeed the color of Yuna’s DNA and personality.

In a time where hijab wearers were too afraid to be striking and bold in fear of being lashed at by the world even more than they already have been, Yuna became their savior. With an eye for colorful turbans, trendy prints and unbelievably chic pairings of unthinkable apparels, she injected happiness into her fans and let her quirkiness permeated the atmosphere everywhere she went. So why not a good balance of sequins, glitter and a memorable color to announce her poise on a magazine cover?


GLAM Malaysia – Diana Danielle (January 2015)

Diana Danielle on the cover of Glam Malaysia

I think everyone can agree with me when I say this year looks to be a good prospect for our magazine industry right, thanks to Glam Malaysia. Setting a noteworthy example on its own accord was the magazine’s January 2015 issue that had the fashion maven in Diana Danielle in spades. Instead of resorting to amplify and harp on the actress’ reported diva status with an accompaniment of big hair, bold attires and everything else associated with a big attitude, Glam Malaysia had decided to go the pastel and very much darling route on her. Danielle’s tousled updo cinched her fresh, barely there makeup, while her checkered green Michael Kors dress gave way to a demure, old Hollywood feel that was perfectly sealed by her quietly sensual posture and a gaze that seemed to meekly question and at the same time shush her naysayers and doubters alike. Glam Malaysia’s latest take on Danielle, in and of itself, classily redefines the connotation of – you guessed it – “diva”. – By Naressa Khan