Forma | informem
Can you tell us a bit about forma/informem and how it came about?
Photographer Amanda Kho and I have been working together on commercial projects for the last couple years, and we developed a friendship along the way. We both felt, as many creative professionals do, that we had so many experimental ideas we wanted to express outside the limits of a client brief, and the forma/informem platform was born to allow us to do just that. The focus of the platform developed out of an opportunity we both saw to better capture the multidimensional complexity of what femininity means through visual stories. Amanda and I lead the project with support from Sarah Chiang on my team at LIIPSTIIK who runs production. Each project has involved a variety of female collaborators, including our models Janice Yip and Kiran Gill, makeup artist Jaime Smith, hair stylists Danielle Abbotts and Yoyo Yip, and contributing writer Natalie Lau. It's been a pretty amazing way to work with new people and form new relationships that have developed during our projects and beyond in our professional work as well.
What has been some of the most rewarding moments of this project you have witnessed with other women and within your team? What has been the most challenging aspect?
While I enjoy working with all different types of teams and there are definitely huge benefits to balancing gender on a production team, I do have to say there is something kind of magical about working with an all-female team. On the "unraveled" project in particular, many of us on the project team were working together for the first time. Naturally, there are always nerves as everyone is figuring out what the energy of the shoot will be. But by the end of the shoot, it was amazing to see everyone working together collaboratively, suggesting ideas for poses, styling, and compositions outside of their disciplines. It was super collaborative, positive, and open, and I think you can see that energy reflected in the progression of the story. Also, at the last minute we decided to invite Natalie Lau to create a poem to complement the series. This turned out to be one of my favorite elements of the whole project — Natalie's raw but elegant poetry brought an added depth to the story. I'm so glad that we went with the idea to include poetry; this will definitely be something we repeat in the future. In terms of challenges, I think something important to us to continue to develop is how we represent multiple perspectives and notions of femininity, at all different ages and shapes and sizes. This is something I would love us to challenge ourselves to do as we move forward.
Can you tell us how your upbringing has shaped you and this new project?
I am American and moved around extensively throughout my childhood, including six years in Hong Kong. This presented an extraordinary opportunity but also an extraordinary challenge in my teen years, but I think it taught me to really think about how different people from different backgrounds and cultures can have vastly different perspectives on the same topic and can all be right based on their own experience. In my day job as a brand strategist, I spend a lot of time trying to understand how people think and how best to speak to them. This open-mindedness and curiosity is part of what led me to this collaboration with Amanda, and is definitely the same spirit that shapes how I look at feminism and at life.
What’s the best piece of advice you have been given? What advice would you give?
As women, we can do more together. It's perhaps trite, but I think all too often we talk about how to improve the male-female professional dynamic, and I think the female-female professional dynamic needs more focus. All too frequently, women feel in competition with each other and this leads to putting each other down in a variety of ways and to feelings of competitiveness and insecurity. When we realize that there is more than enough creativity, work, and appreciation to go around and we don't have to compete with each other, we can create a really amazing and supportive community that benefits us all.
What do you hope happens with this project?
It's an honor to be able to share my perspective and to collaborate with amazing people who are also eager to share theirs. I hope that through this project we are able to develop an active community of creatives who are excited about finding new ways of capturing and sharing the endless diversity that is the feminine perspective. We're still early on in this project, but I'm already seeing impact — namely in the relationships formed amongst the project teams that have resulted in subsequent creative collaborations and partnerships, and in the interest from both Hong Kong and far beyond.
STORY 2: PROJECT TEAM
Photography / Amanda Kho
Styling and Art Direction / Jocelyn Liipfert Lam, LIIPSTIIK
Production / Sarah Chiang, LIIPSTIIK
Model / Kiran Gill
Make-up / Jaime Smith, smudgemakeupartistry
Hair / Danielle Abbotts
Poetry / Natalie Nicole Lau
STORY 2: WARDROBE CREDITS
Earrings (in order of appearance): Ellery, Dinosaur Designs, Sophie Buhai
Blue dress: Molly Goddard
Turtleneck: Kwaidan Editions
Skirt: Kwaidan Editions
Chair: Stellar Works
Bodysuit: Atelier Harlem
Jocelyn Liipfert Lam is the founder of creative consultancy LIIPSTIIK. At LIIPSTIIK, Jocelyn works with clients to develop brand strategies that solve business problems, and engages photographers, filmmakers, and writers to create brand stories. LIIPSTIIK clients include Cathay Pacific, Passion Passport, VICE Magazine and Pierre Cardin. Prior to founding LIIPSTIIK, Jocelyn honed her craft at creative agencies AKQA and TBWA, and helped expand boutique digital agency AnalogFolk into Asia. She has worked with global brands including Nike, Chanel, Coach, Apple, COS and Tommy Hilfiger. Bred and now based in Hong Kong, Jocelyn has also lived in Texas, Paris, London, Beijing and Shanghai.
Words: Jocelyn Liipfert Lam