Like us, Yuna has spent her quarantine wearing her husband’s hoodie, watching Netflix home makeover shows, and buying weird stuff online. The Malaysian singer has spent the last six months in her hometown of Kuala Lumpur. “It’s just like being back to the teenager Yuna,” she says, “Where my mom has the privilege of just making me do all the chores and everything that I used to do for her when I was in high school.” But she’s also found that this time has been a surprising era of productivity. Between making dreamy R&B music at home and hitting play on another episode of Tiny House Nation, she teamed up with Coach for its latest holiday campaign.
As we enter our first pandemic winter, Coach is launching a campaign titled “Holiday Is Where You Find It.” It intends to remind us of the importance of family and optimism, so it’s only natural for Yuna, a woman who celebrates both endlessly, to be a face of the campaign alongside Jennifer Lopez, Michael B. Jordan, and other stars from the Coach family.
ELLE.com Zoomed with Yuna and discussed her early memories of visiting Coach stores with her mom, how her style evolved from baby tees to headscarves, and the purchase she made because a cat was in the picture. Read on for more.
On her 2000s-era style as a teen
Teenage Yuna’s style? I was so lost. I tried so hard to be cool. This was before I had the hijab on, so crop tees and baggy pants. Gwen Stefani was my style icon. When Gwen had pink hair, I experimented with pink hair. It didn’t really look good on me, but I was experimenting with a lot of different things. I just didn’t know what I liked yet.
I think right now, I’m very comfortable with my identity as a Hijabi. I wear the scarf all the time, and everything I feel has to revolve around my scarf like, “Okay, will this work with…” I only wear long sleeves. I love turtlenecks, and I love baggy pants. I love combat boots. So still kind of like the same Yuna who loves Gwen’s punkish rock style, and there are some days where I like to be girly as well. Now I just don’t really think too much about what to put on my body. If it feels good, it looks great.
Her earliest Coach memory
I started working with Coach in 2015 during my second New York Fashion Week, but my first time attending a Coach runway show. To be honest with you, I was not familiar with the brand, except for my mom being a Coach fanatic. I guess all Asian moms are. My mom would not skip a trip to the Coach store if she’s in LA. She would just go like, “I need to go to Coach right now.” I had no idea that Coach was very fashion-forward and it was very cool. After that, I just fell in love with the brand and the team.
Favorite holiday traditions
I mean, for me, obviously, we celebrate Eid. There’s two Eids. I do Fitr and I do al-Adha. Both Eids, we eat a lot. Every time we celebrate Eid, it’s just being with family and friends.
I tour a lot. I travel a lot, so this is a time when I get to kind of just strictly tell my management, “I have to be back. I have to go home, or my family will disown me.” No, just kidding, but my mom would not let that go. It’s really important for me to always be home to celebrate that with my friends and family. That’s like the only chance I have to really hang out with them.
How her mom influenced her style
From the very beginning, my mom was one of the most stylish women that I knew. She loved Princess Diana, so she would always try to wear whatever she’s wearing. She used to have all these amazing shoes and high heels that I would try on. She would have huge skirts and structured tops from the ’80s. I used to think that it was really cool. Yeah, I grew up with a pretty stylish mom.
Her biggest fashion regret
Oh my gosh. I feel like you can totally find this on YouTube. I went for an audition for the Malaysian equivalent of American Idol, One in a Million. Going into the audition, I thought I was wearing something super cool. It was just a simple purple top and baggy jeans that didn’t even fit. It was horrible. And of course out of all the contestants, they picked me because I was wearing the scarf. It was pretty new at the time: Nobody have seen a girl wearing the scarf, trying out for these shows. So they used that footage. And of course, you can totally find it and I look horrible.
People love sharing that video too, because it was one of my first TV appearances. My fans love re-tweeting it and sharing it on social media and I’m like, “Oh gosh, stop.” But it’s forever on there.
What’s bringing her comfort during quarantine
I feel like you don’t really know when the work stops when you’re working at home. I would still be doing stuff until 10:00 PM. So when I’m done done, I take a shower, wash my face, put on my mask, my cream or whatever, and then I would turn on some interior design show or a Tiny House Nation TV show that makes me spend more money on shelves that I don’t need, or tables that I don’t need.
The weirdest thing she’s bought this year
I was online for fun. I don’t know, I have a problem. I bought this laptop thing where there’s a shelf to elevate it but it has a photo of a cat for some reason. When you’re typing, your cats won’t be able to come and sit on the key pad and mess up whatever that you’re working on. That’s how they advertise it, so I was like, “This is ridiculous. I’m going to buy this.”
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