International Style Guru Bonnae Gokson On The Process Of Creating Her Much-Awaited Second Book
After the beautiful coffee table book Butterflies and All Things Sweet: The Story of Ms B’s Cakes debuted to international praise in 2013, and received three top awards thereafter, many anticipated the next creation from its author, the international style guru Bonnae Gokson. The wait was all of five years, but well worth it. This month, the renowned cake stylist launches her second book, Weddings, Butterflies, & The Sweetest Dreams in Manila (26-27 September) and in New York (4 October) in an event hosted by Vera Wang. For the Hong Kong launch, Gokson would like to do it when she opens her third cake shop in this Asian capital she calls home.
“This wedding celebration book gives interesting images of details on special occasions across the world,” says Gokson. “Like, how most Javanese brides wear their hair, weddings held in bare nature in Colorado, night moods on food in Australia, and my crafted cakes paired with each scenario.”
The idea for the book came about when Gokson saw a photo of a high-profile couple’s wedding in Italy. “I thought the wedding cake was a letdown,” she says. “It looked roughly finished and just didn’t match the romantic setting.” She saw the need for a book that “shows multi-cultural celebrations in a more refined way of capturing images. And since I love to pair my cakes with beautiful settings and share them on Instagram, I thought... why not?”
For Gokson, Weddings, Butterflies, & The Sweetest Dreams is a labour of passion and love that took over two years to plan. She shares the complicated process. First, she only shoots her cakes on Sundays, as her two outlets in Hong Kong (the restaurant SEVVA and the cake shop Ms B’s Cakery) are so busy with work and deliveries all week long. Scheduling her photographer is also a challenge because he is constantly travelling. Then, her creative team is in Sydney and her publisher, ORO Editions + GOFF Books, is from the United States. “So could you imagine the time differences and challenges we go through just to get things right?” she remarks.
But the images, in the end, are spectacular. Gokson particularly cites a cake she designed with her signature topping of cotton candy and handpainted macaroons. This she paired with a Vera Wang couture gown. “I must say that this is unique as it takes great skills to just even style and twist the cotton candy,” she says.
Through the book, however, Gokson would like to impart “wishes and hopes.” She adds: “Since I have mentioned that this book has been purely a labour of love with my work and creativity, I just hope it brings much joy and inspiration to readers all around the globe.”
Highly-regarded for her impeccable sense of style, Gokson has made her creative imprints in varied luxury industries—from fashion to hotel and hospitality, food and entertaining, and coffee table publishing. After starting out as a visual mer chandiser and buyer in fashion for the JOYCE Group, founded and formerly owned by her sister Joyce Ma, she also served as the regional chief of Image & Communications for CHANEL Asia Pacific, designed interiors for all her establishments, and sits as the creative advisor to the Niccolo Hotels, including its newly opened Murray Hotel.
“Everything is inspiring to me—from nature to art, fashion, and the simplest every day sightings of life!” she says.
That her style is encompassing is attested to by the top designer Vera Wang and the fashion icon Iris Apfel in their respective forewords in Weddings, Butterflies, & The Sweetest Dreams. Both women, icons in their own right, heap praises on Gokson, honouring her for the tastemaker that she is. A further testament would be the three top international awards that her first book, Butterflies and All Things Sweet, has received: the Paris Book Awards, the Benjamin Franklin Book Awards, and the Sydney Design Awards.
Gokson, who calls herself “Creative-All Rounder” and “Creative Visionary,” has a beautiful way of describing what she does and who she is. “Creativity is intelligence having fun. Creativity is the gift that keeps on giving. And I am a person that is both of the above,” she says.
Photography: Mark Nicdao | Hair: Kim Robinson | Make-up: Patrick Rosas
This story was first published in the August 2018 issue of Philippine Tatler, available in all leading newsstands and bookstores, and downloadable via Magzter, Zinio, and Pressreader.