Following the success of Bonnae Gokson’s first book, its sequel, Weddings, Butterflies & The Sweetest Dreams, is out this month at all leading stockists. Gokson, the mastermind behind Sevva, C’est La B cafés, and Ms B’s Cakery, is renowned for her exquisite taste — so the book is, unsurprisingly, stunning. The new tome is a visual feast, depicting exquisite weddings around the world, complemented by bespoke cakes selected and designed by Gokson for each occasion.
We sat down with the always glamorous Gokson at her impeccable and iconic restaurant Sevva to go over this new chapter in her life.
As a renowned entrepreneur and successful businesswoman, a book seems like an unlikely place to turn a big profit, so, why?
Nobody makes money on a book, nobody. But basically, it is a sense of pride. I have my passion in there. When you go to different cities, like Taiwan or Thailand, Beijing, or even Italy, they were selling the book. I have a worldwide audience, which is fantastic.
How would you define then, a book’s success – if you’re not worried about the numbers and point of sales?
I wouldn’t say I don’t care about not selling, but I have some of the greatest people – from Oprah to Elton John – reading my book. This book has gone to a lot of places with important people. Success is defined in many ways. Out of 100,000 books… they choose you and give you the top award in a book festival? That is great pride! That is already success, serious success.
Tell us a little bit about what inspired you to write the book?
I attended a beautiful wedding in Italy, but when it came to the cake, it was awful! I thought to myself, “Jeez, how can that be?” I started to think, I want to pair my cakes and my creations with the event. That’s how it started. I wanted to write a celebration book because it’s one of the major celebrations in life! I wanted to show more than just women in white gowns. It’s a book about the journey of how I think, which leads to how I end up designing. Basically, it’s a very luscious book and a journey of thoughts.
What would you never include?
I love quality things. I don’t think you’d find anything tacky in my book. This book doesn’t have a lot of words, but they tell stories. My entire life has been about fashion, so I have a lot of elements that tie back to fashion. Everything is rooted from fashion. Second to the gown, the cake is the most important component at the wedding! It’s how you tie up the whole event. By the way, we speak about the groom as well, not everything is about the bride. In the book, there is a page of what I’m dreaming up for my own wedding, which is fun. I don’t think I have a distinct look like a lot of cake designers, I do several styles to cater to the couple.
In this book, you have some exotic spots featured too.
The wedding book is a book of inspiration, so I have a multicultural scene in there. [For example] how does a Japanese Shinto bride look different from a Nigerian bride? I do believe that this would be an all-around book, that means [it covers] all seasons. You want to see artistry and beauty from all corners.
How has the book-writing process?
It’s been two years since my last book and I’ve already spent a lot of time, passion, and money into my book. I think I was very blessed to have made friends with the right people. I have a lot of friends in fashion and couture. I only work with the best people.
Lest we forget, you also have contributions by Vera Wang and Iris Apfel – how did that come about?
Vera is the reigning queen of wedding gowns and couture and I’ve known her for a very long time. I met her when I was a young girl. We are really great friends. Not everyone knows that other than wedding gowns, she is a prime name in America who has so many other products including jewellery and bridal accessories too.
For Iris, I met her here in Hong Kong when she was in Landmark for an event and we hit it off. When I asked her to write something for me, she did it immediately. Ever since she left Hong Kong, we call each other probably every five days. I spoke to her yesterday and she took me out just before I left New York. She came in a taxi, she’s close to 100 years old – but what a spirit! She teaches university students each year and takes them all around. She arranges for designers and shows them the true business of fashion. I admire her a lot – as a human being, as a woman, and for all she has done. When you click with someone, you just click.
You’re planning a grand event in Manila and New York to launch your books. What are you planning for Hong Kong?
I’m still deciding. I’m opening a new shop in Wan Chai. I think the store is a little bit too small, and there are spaces I wanted nearby, but I wanted to do it in my own proximity. [As for] an event in Hong Kong – I’m still thinking about it.
I’ve always wanted to ask, why is there not a Sevva part two? Another branch even if it’s another country?
I guess you’ve never run a restaurant, right? It’s because I’m smart! I know not to make it a chain and lose my sleep and mind over it! I love my life, what I do, [and] travelling, so how can I work it all out if I’m managing restaurants everywhere! My plans are to have a major renovation next year, so that will be my part two! It’s such a huge headache to drill all the walls and do everything in the kitchen. I don’t care if I have one thousand restaurants… when I want to do that, I will. I love having my freedom.
For someone who likes such gorgeous, decadent cakes, you’re very slim! Do you actually eat the cake or have just a spoonful?!
I actually just finished a big piece. It’s probably my metabolism, but I eat a very balanced meal, and lead a very balanced life.