Chinese fashion icon Vivienne Tam first met British designer Scott Crolla in London more than two decades ago. The two later partnered in life and business until Crolla was diagnosed with blood cancer in 2016. Tam spent much of her time afterward traveling the world with Crolla in search of a cure before he succumbed in 2019 at age 64. “He is still the love of my life,” Tam said in an interview.
Crolla’s death brought Tam into an up-close recognition of the suffering and stress that accompanies cancer, a killer of approximately 10 million people around the world annually that impacts millions more family members and friends. Having unexpectedly joined that global community, the successful designer this year is helping to raise money to advance cancer research. To do so, Tam has turned to a means she knows well: fashion.
This month Tam launched a campaign under the slogan “Love yourself, heal yourself, never give up” and is offering scarfs as part of a new “Lovfinity S” series. The idea: Scarfs are sold to donors for $130 each with profit used for research or donations to cancer patients. The “Lov” comes from the world love, and “finity” comes from “Infinity.” The “S” refers to Crolla’s first name.
Tam has started the project in Hong Kong, where she has been hunkered down during the COVID-19 pandemic. To date, Tam has attracted celebrity support from Sylvia Chang, Ann Hui, Coco Lee, Karen Mok and Yonfan. She hopes to expand the effort into mainland China and the rest of the world in 2021. The scarfs can be purchased on her website and Instagram.
Tam’s life is rooted in Hong Kong, where she moved at age three from the mainland Chinese city of Guangzhou. Yet she has expanded her influence and bridged cultures around the world over the years. A naturalized American, Tam struck it big in New York in the 1990s, launching her own fashion lines and collections that today are part of the permanent collection at the Metropolitan Museum in New York and the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburg. Crolla, at the peak of his popularity, attracted customers for his own fashion that reportedly included Elton John and Princess Diana.
Aside from personal and fundraising considerations, Tam’s political timing may be good. Once the COVID-19 pandemic has been brought under control, U.S. President-Elect Joe Biden is expected to turn public attention to cancer. Following the death of his son Beau Biden to brain cancer, then Vice President Biden led a “moonshot” initiative during the Obama administration to promote cures. Forbes China, the Chinese edition of Forbes, hosted a global online event this summer to advance global collaboration in to fight cancer.
Funds raised by Tam will benefit the Hong Kong Breast Cancer Foundation, Hong Kong Cancer Fund, Maggie’s Cancer Caring Center Hong Kong and Redford Charitable Foundation.