Cover Yoyo Yao sits on her Louis Vuitton Malle Courrier Lozine 110 trunk, which she uses as a coffee table in her renovated home in Singapore.

Fashion darling Yoyo Yao waxes lyrical about growing up with Louis Vuitton, her love for menswear and her prized Courrier Lozine 110 trunk

Her first precious piece of Louis Vuitton—a classic Speedy bag bestowed upon her as a gift when she was a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed 20-year-old—is still carefully stored in the family home in Shanghai, and she occasionally takes it out to admire it when she returns to China. It is in mint condition, she tells Tatler Singapore, and can still be used. Perhaps it will be passed down as a family heirloom of sorts, a keepsake with sentimental value, to one of her children: a pair of boy and girl twins aged 13, and a son aged nine.

We’re talking to Singapore-based fashion darling Yoyo Yao—an ardent, long-time fan and friend of the house of Louis Vuitton—at the maison’s sprawling two-storey store in Ngee Ann City. She has just effortlessly posed up a storm in the season’s latest offering and is ready to regale us with tales of her decades-long love affair with the brand.

“When I was growing up, China wasn’t so open and we didn’t have much exposure to things from outside of the country,” she shares. “When I was able to get a passport and travel in my 20s, I was so curious to see the world. Back then, in terms of style, I just liked and bought what was popular and what everyone else was buying. But with time and increased exposure, I slowly developed my own personal style.”

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Her glam chic aesthetic is all over her Instagram, @msyooyoo, where she serves up style inspiration in spades to her 21,300 followers, and lives her best life in luxe sportswear, jumpsuits and various ensembles that boast more trousers than skirts and the occasional frock. Perhaps surprisingly, Yao eschews overly feminine outfits, saying: “I seldom wear dresses and skirts. I prefer trousers, and pieces that are more simple and comfortable. Of course, I’d wear dresses for occasions that call for more elegance.”

In fact, the cool sartorial darling, who after our shoot changed into her own oversized bomber jacket, baggy jeans and sneakers, tells us she is a big fan of Louis Vuitton’s menswear, and loves how the late Virgil Abloh had steered the house’s menswear collection in a fresh and youthful direction. “I actually don’t buy much womenswear, besides jewellery and bags,” she says. “For clothes, I love shopping from the men’s collections. I like oversized outfits, and it’s also trendy these days. I’d pick T-shirts, coats and even shoes from LV Men—they’re edgy and unique, and fun to style. I’d custom-order the smallest men’s shoe size for designs that I like—I have a few pairs.”

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Suffice to say that since her first LV Speedy, Yao has amassed countless treasures from the house, including more than a few Petite Malle bags, which she calls one of her favourite styles, along with statement jewellery pieces and an enviable collection of the label’s legendary hard-sided trunks, from the smaller, stackable ones to the iconic Courrier Lozine.

The large trunk will take pride of place as a striking coffee table in her newly renovated abode in Singapore. It’s lovingly customised with hand-drawn shoe prints culminating in a golden Eiffel Tower, in tribute to founder Louis Vuitton’s journey on foot to Paris from his home town in Jura when he was just 14, a laborious voyage over 470 km that took him two years and many odd jobs in between to complete.

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Louis Vuitton’s vaunted trunk-making heritage is inextricably intertwined with the romance of travel and wanderlust, a theme that resonates with Yao. She’s used to jetting around the world, whether it’s back to Shanghai with her kids (who were born in Singapore and go to school here) and her husband Joe Zhou, a businessman in gas and real estate development, or to ski trips in Switzerland and wine tours in Bordeaux.

She recounts her most memorable trip with the maison, to the snow-capped mountains of Gstaad in Switzerland for the house’s high jewellery launch, which she attended with her husband: “It was my last trip to Europe before the pandemic, in March 2020. It was really special, but we were also worried about the situation. We love skiing and were supposed to extend the trip and be away for a month, but we cut it short.”

Happily, she picked up her Europe sojourn two years later right where she left off—on the very night of this shoot, Yao boarded a flight to Geneva to her beloved ski fields.

And yes, she will be taking her Louis Vuitton with her. “When I travel, I’ll bring my LV make-up cases and smaller travel bags, and also my Keepall bag—it’s so light and the design is so classic, it never goes out of style. When I travel, I carry mostly LV.”

  • PhotographyDarren Gabriel Leow
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