Dong Qu, Sunday afternoon. Two stylish French guys are taking street snaps, the one carrying the camera with tattooed arms is Stephane Ferrero, and the other one talking with people on the street in fluent Chinese is Sanza Bulaya. Together they created the free online fashion magazine, Revver, in their free time, bringing together insights into both art and fashion.
Ferrero studied Chinese during college in France, and was interested in visiting Asia after he graduated. Recommended by his Chinese teacher, he applied for the school scholarship and bought a ticket to Taipei, and gave himself a week to see if he suited the city. (That was the time without cell phones and the Internet!) In the blink of an eye, twenty years have passed, and he is still living on this island. Along the way he went back to France and worked in an immigration agency in Paris for a few years, came to Taiwan again working as a reporter for Radio Taiwan International for another couple of years, and afterwards won the opportunity to become a fashion photographer in Shanghai. After all the experiences, he still preferred life in Taipei.
A year ago Ferrero met Bulaya, who has been working at BNP Paribas Taiwan for eight years. They hit it off right away. Their conversations are frequently diverse and free-flowing. From discussions on the value of individuals versus the collective through to how to reduce the impact of prejudicial stereotypes on society, they never fail to talk passionately and to think outside-the-box on every idea and issue.
“Hey, how about creating a magazine together?”
One day, Ferrero called Bulaya, asking directly, “Hey, how about creating a magazine together?”
Five seconds later, Bulaya replied, “Okay, let’s do it fast!”
That was the birth of Revver. According to Bulaya, it only took him so long because he was thinking, “did he just say m-a-g-a-z-i-n-e?”
Revver just celebrated its first-year anniversary at the end of July.
On the first page of Revver #1, Bulaya wrote, “Revver is one dynamic of this life cycle that has started like a little BUD coming from a little seed. That little fragile seed has been composed of an irresistible commitment to engage people with fashion and art to share our vision of creativity that encompasses various manifestations of culture.” If someday Revver is to be placed on a shelf of a bookstore, Ferrero and Bulaya think it should not be simply categorized only in either art or fashion, but in both, as the magazine is the integration of both.
The production of Revver relies only on the two founders. In addition to Ferrero and Bulaya’s skills in photography and editing, the magazine has been supported by many volunteers, who sponsored their professional skills. “Why do our friends help us? That’s because our ideas are cool! We have created a platform that allows talents across various fields to present the best of themselves. We don’t look for opportunities, we create opportunities,” said Bulaya.
“The only challenge is: how to keep thinking outside the box.”
Professional art designers, models, stylists, Revver always gathers talents to brainstorm together about the cover theme. Their perspectives from their own professions stimulate each other, bringing out intriguing fashion scripts. “We don’t discuss about ‘if you can do it or not’, we only ask ‘after this, can you try something different?’” smiled Bulaya. Revver doesn’t have employees, and there is no revenue from online distribution, so the magazine doesn’t have the pressure of finding advertisements, and is not restricted by a certain operational model. The only challenge for them is “how to keep thinking outside the box.”
In the August issue just released, the main theme is the “Solstice”. Wearing one-piece swimsuits by the Taiwanese designer John Yuyi, the two cover ladies enjoyed their summer night in the midst of the urban jungle. Dancing intimately, spiting water on each other, they partied on with their messed-up make up.
The cover story is about paying respect to the summer solstice, the longest day of each year. Bulaya explained, “It’s natural for me to go to the beach in summer, but many Taiwanese are not interested in going to the beach, so we deliberately chose the urban area as the spot for photo-shooting. There was no sea there, so we had models spit a mouth of water on each other. Many Taiwanese are not used to wearing sexy bikinis, so we picked up the conservative one-piece swimsuit, while demonstrating the rebellious emotions through the models body language.” It is the romantic contradictions against the backdrop of reality that make the magazine so distinctively attractive.
“The right to choose is the luxury we have.”
After celebrating the first anniversary of Revver, will it be transformed into a business in the near future? “Do you think an online magazine is a business? It is not. We just want to create something interesting,” Bulaya replied firmly.
“We want to do what we think is cool. If someday some people criticize us or don’t understand what we are doing, it’s ok, because we choose to do cool things. The right to choose is the luxury we have.”
“Maybe someday, when I am too old to walk, I can still tell my grandchildren that their grandpa has done something cool when he was young. And they will take Revver in their hands and say ‘wow, grandpa is so cool!’” said Bulaya with a faint smile.
Asked why they have chosen to live in Taiwan for so many years, and even started their magazine here, “because of the people here,” Ferrero and Bulaya both answered without hesitation. They think Taiwan still reserves it’s own self-consciousness and cultural uniqueness despite the trend of globalization. The environment allows them to create what they want freely, and Taiwanese are able to embrace differences. They find Taiwan a great place for them to do “cool” things.
On the night of the interview, we talked with Ferrero and Bulaya until midnight. One after another, they share their experiences and perspectives on this island. We saw how they absorbed the local cultural dynamic and translate it into magazines with unique presentations.
Revver is available free online, or if you prefer a paper magazine, a subscription is also available (priced at $15 an issue, simply to cover production costs). Clearly, Ferrero and Bullaya are not motivated by money. Instead they are motivated by a strong desire to engage with their readers and to share more broadly their passion for art and fashion. They welcome you to join Revver and to grow the passionate community that surrounds them.
Stephane Ferrero is a French photographer based in Taipei and specialized in fashion, beauty, portraits and still life photography. Beside his commercial work, he continues his photography quest through photographs series that are exhibited on regular bases.
Head of Permanent Control & Business Development at Wealth Management BNP Paribas
NEOMA Business School Reims – Rouen – Paris