Arts Interview Preview Singapore

vOilah! 2020: Catching up with French Shopping and Dining guide So Chic

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So Chic’s French Gastronomy Weeks programme, part of vOilah! 2020

While the vOilah! France Singapore Festival only comes around once a year, that certainly doesn’t mean that there’s any shortage of French activities, food and shopping to be done for the remaining 11 months. If you ever get a hankering for the fashion of Paris or the wines of Bordeaux, then do yourself a favour and head to online French shopping and dining guide So Chic, leading you to Singapore’s available French retailers and experiences.

When we last spoke to So Chic, it was at last year’s vOilah! Festival, where we were taking part in a perfume making workshop by Maison 21G. Growing fast since their humble beginnings as guide and listings site, to event organiser and collaborator with their partners to bring a slice of France to Singapore, to even including events like photography walking tours (which we’ll be attending). We spoke to Coralie Vincens, So Chic’s Account & Committees Manager F&B, Retail & Luxury Marketing & Communication, and found out a little more about how So Chic has been adapting to the pandemic, and their exciting plans for the future. Read the interview in full below:

So Chic | French shopping & restaurants in Singapore

Bakchormeeboy: How has So Chic been doing over the last year, and what are some upcoming plans your team has for the months to come after Voilah?

Coralie: Since last year’s vOilah! France Singapore Festival, the So Chic Team has been quite busy! We have published a Corporate Gift Catalogue for the year 2019/2020 with more than 40 participating brands. We have been working on adding editorial content weekly with the aim to provide fresh and immersive content on our website and our social media. For example, we conduct exclusive interviews with Chefs, designers, and Retail brand CEOs. We find the best recipes for classic French meals, style tips or beauty secrets. We also have put together a curated selection of events that include private sales, brand launches, and gallery vernissages, and other French events in Singapore including So Chic experiences which bring French brands closer to its consumers creating a privileged and fun atmosphere. Our So Chic newsletter keeps our readers informed about all things French in Singapore and gives them a chance to be the first to register to our exclusive events (with all safety measures in place during Circuit Breaker and Phase 2. Actually during Circuit Breaker we helped a lot our So Chic brands promoting and showcasing their brands to get visibility (like our #FeelGood Campaign on our IG page). In the near future, we will publish the new Festive Edition of our Corporate Catalogue 2021, as well as organising more So Chic Events for our Brands and F&B entities.

Bakchormeeboy: For Voilah this year, So Chic has become the hub for most of the events happening for the festival. Besides being a directory and platform for ticketing, how involved was So Chic with the planning aspects of these events?

Coralie: So Chic team’s goal was to offer a variety of Experiences to all vOilah! France Singapore Festival’s audience. And to put all our So Chic brands and restaurants (through the French Gastronomy Weeks) under the spotlight/the flashes of the scene. We are very honoured to have curated such exclusive workshops and dining experiences to the vOilah! Festival’s organisers.

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Chef Justin Quek, featured during the event Dans la cuisine du Chef

Bakchormeeboy: One of the highlights of vOilah! this year is the French Gastronomy Weeks menus that So Chic has helped organise. What was the thought process that went into deciding on the restaurants to be featured and the menus they would be presenting?

Coralie: Yes we have very proud to have so many great So Chic French Restaurants in Singapore was to promote and showcase all our restaurants. We are proud of our French gastronomy and all of them partake in sharing our love for food, and the French traditional culture that holds behind. They all wanted to share the products they love to work, create, and cook with. Their aim was to share their passion, as well as to show how it could be fusional with local Singaporean food and tradition (like The Paris Brest Singapour by ODETTE at Home, or “Dans la cuisine du Chef” with Justin Quek, and many other participating restaurants).

Bakchormeeboy: While So Chic does specialise in live events, the pandemic has reduced most of these to a limited audience. Is there any intent to hybridise with collaborators more, in terms of digitisation or bringing the experience home instead of people having to physically attend events?

Coralie: Yes, we have moved to virtual experiences to adapt to the current pandemic. Our workshop “A Journey with House of Rum and La Petite Boutique” encompassed delivering sets of rum, cheese, chocolate as well as samosa to our So Chic participants and through a video link they explain how to taste the rum with the cheese and chocolate pairings. The first virtual experience has been a success. even if we were not all together, each participant played the game and loved the experience. We will definitely work on hybrid format events in the future, which also help to experience the brand directly from the comfort of your home!

So Chic’s A Journey with House of Rum and La Petite Boutique event

Bakchormeeboy: Do you feel that there are some aspects of France and French culture that So Chic has not yet managed to highlight in Singapore yet? Are there any particular brands that So Chic would like to collaborate with in future?

Coralie: Our So Chic collaborative platform covers a large directory of brands, which are from the fashion, beauty, art, food, home lifestyle industry. But we are always happy to welcome even more brands as long as they are French and Chic.

Bakchormeeboy: French culture cannot simply be boiled down to its arts, fashion or food, but rather, a combination of all these and more. How do you hope to see Singaporeans responding more or adopting French culture in their daily lives in time to come?

Coralie: French Culture is a way of life that cannot be enforced. Singapore has always been known to be this open-minded nation where different cultures embraced each other. As so there is always a place to add a little bit of the French lifestyle into Singaporeans daily life. The idea is not to adapt the French culture otherwise it would not be Singapore anymore. But to see that many cultures can be fusional, as all of us, from different nations, cultures, languages, can live together. Therefore, we would love to see more of the Singaporeans audience coming to our events and/or participating in our So Chic brand experience.

Photography walking tour with French photographer Xavier Keutch

Bakchormeeboy: There are about 20,000 French people living in Singapore. Can you share, as a brand, how do you engage and create this community?

Coralie: So Chic is a platform to promote the French lifestyle in Singapore, as part of an initiative from the French Chamber of Commerce in Singapore and its retail and F&B’s members. The brand attempts to bring a community that has landed 10,793 km away from home and find them a piece of France in an otherwise Asian Community. That is why So Chic, started as a comprehensive print guide then transformed into a fully digital platform, it aims to keep readers in the know of all about French things in Singapore. And as we said, make Singaporeans discover and take away a bit of our culture and passion!

Find out more about So Chic and their events on their website here

vOilah! 2020 runs from 22nd October to 22nd November 2020. For more information, visit their website here, and their Facebook page here

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