Scandal? What Scandal?

If you look at Edison Chen’s promotional photos for Coca Cola’s 12th Anniversary range of products, produced in collaboration with Hong Kong’s urban-label-of-the-moment CLOT and illustrator James Jarvis, you wouldn’t have guessed that this was a guy once embroiled in a sensational sex scandal. That was in 2008. Has it been that long?

Mr Chen was thought to have committed professional suicide when those photographs quickly went viral once posted on the Net by an unscrupulous computer mechanic. The movie star disappeared, apparently somewhere in Canada, and was quickly dismissed as a man with no future. But that was not to be. His career in the movies may have temporarily halted, but his business in fashion was leap-frogging into the big time. Unbeknown to many people, CLOT is owned by Edison Chen.

Which is, perhaps, why he is appearing in the publicity pictures. Mr Chen is never shy in front of a camera, whether his own or a paid photographer’s. And this time, he looks so clean-cut, so youthful, so unassailable by pass indiscretion that it is doubtless he can sell products.

I guess, in some ways, it is a Kate Moss syndrome. The more disreputable your past, the more fashion loves you. And it isn’t only in Hong Kong that the fashion tribes are welcoming Mr Chen back into their fold. In this year’s March issue of Vogue Homme Japan (below), he was shot, hair parted high, smoking as if there was no better accessory than a cigarette.

It is, however, hard to say if Edison Chen’s lurid past has really gone up in smoke. He was made to be the bad guy, the victimizer, the one who propelled all those women to global notoriety, never mind how willing they were as nude models. Some stains are simply too hard to wash out. Forget we may, forgive is quite another thing.

Still, he would not brood over it, as he told Time Out Hong Kong recently, “I really believe that everything happens for a reason. And I think this has all happened to help me gain more clarity and re-evaluate my life.”

Or let the boyishness disarm you.

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