Two brushes with cancer combined with the effects of the pandemic changed fashion designer Vivian Luk’s outlook, making her reassess her work and her approach to it.
Luk’s first bout of cancer occurred while she was pregnant with her daughter and as such, there was little she could do to address the disease but wait until her daughter was born, after which her therapy began.
Determined not to let cancer stop her work, Luk continued designing, but four years later, cancer struck again. This time, she decided to make some lifestyle changes that included slowing down her bespoke design to focus on ready-to-wear so she could work more from home. Then the pandemic hit. Weddings, for which she frequently designed dresses, and other events, ground to a standstill. And Luk found herself with her daughter at home more often.
Sketching became something they did together. Or, while her daughter Kaylen was doing Zoom school, Luk was drawing while keeping an eye on her. This creative activity also helped Luk to find balance. It's something that she has consistently found strength in.
“As a creative, I needed to make something and keep my creative juices flowing,” says Luk, who turned to her creativity when spending time in hospital recovering from cancer the second time round. “I couldn’t do anything related to work, because I didn’t want to stress myself out, but at the same time I found [creative] things to do. When people sent me flowers and they started to dry, I would make things with them. I wanted to surround myself with my creations and to feel like even though I wasn’t at home, I was still surrounded by my own world.”
Luk’s pandemic sketching gradually developed into an idea for a book, the inspiration for which stemmed from her children’s fashion collection, Little Miss Luk. The designer took seven dresses from the collection and transformed them into the characters in the book, each with their own inner strength, ranging from creativity to passion, kindness, courage, gratitude, curiosity and persistence.
“I wanted to imagine if my dresses were a girl, what each would look like. Then the character would be wearing the dress, and the dress would come apart and they could use parts of their dress as part of their superpower,” says Luk.
In Honeycomb & Her Superpower Friends, one character's superpower, for example, is courage. “I want people to know that when you have a superpower, it doesn’t mean that you are always that way. For example, with courage, she’s not always brave. She’s actually quite fearful sometimes. But if you don’t have fear, you don’t break out of it to be courageous,” says Luk. The outfit worn by the character Pumpkin, whose superpower is courage, is the shape of a ball, but the dress’s silhouette is collapsed until Pumpkin starts to feel courageous when it billows boldly.