30 June 2012



The Fitting Salon at the Tom Tam’s Atelier, 9am.

Was it destiny or merely coincidence? Perhaps it was all for the best that Eli Kee, the subject of Bella Teo’s stunning revelations, and the object of Dana Lee’s emotional turmoil, had just then embarked on a whirlwind tour of the region to promote his jazz album. Apparently there was an enormous market for new jazz acts in Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta and Ho Chi Minh City. But who would have known this? Certainly not Dana Lee, who simply assumed that jazz was more niche than a Givenchy kilt for men. Dana was not musical at all, you see. Was there really a rapt audience in Vietnam for a new Singapore musician? The entire music business was such a mystery. Eli was such a mystery. Mysterious Eli had concealed his relationship with sly Bella from Dana for months! How could he? And why would he? And then Dana remembered how Eli had always left large chunks of his family life vague; Dana didn’t even know where exactly Eli lived. Eli had sometimes offered that he was bunking over at a friend’s – Dana had assumed it was a male buddy, a chum, another starving artist, perhaps, a poet. But now Bella Teo is saying that she, Bella, was that friend! Dear Eli texted and called but Dana had thought it best to wait for him to return from his promotions before she confronted him with what Bella had been saying.

Meanwhile there was The Ice Ball to think about. 
Yes, into each life some Ball must fall. And The Ice Ball was the hot ticket of the fashion show season, depite the "Frosty Chic" theme. And as the main figure of the fashion scene, Dana was keenly aware how important it was for her to make an impressive show – to which end no effort, or expense, must be spared. You think a ball that when a ball is announced, a stiff, elegantly-worded invitation with gilt embossing delivered, and beautiful people just turned up in their glittering best? No! The invitation on the mantle was but the first of the many, many arduous processes before the limos rolled up to the red carpet to disgorge its precious cargo. As for Dana Lee, perhaps it wasn’t such bad timing that there was The Ice Ball to think about now. Unproductive to endlessly ponder and question Eli that Bella’s relationship until Dana could talk to Eli directly. “I’m sure he has a perfectly logical explanation for the pictures,” decided Dana. “It’ll just have to wait until Eli returns after The Ice Ball.” Eli had called Dana a few times and with daily text messages came pictures of the exotic locales of his tour, but Dana didn’t bring up what was uppermost in her mind as being inappropriate.

This morning, Dana is in Tom Tam’s Atelier, where she stood being fitted for the gown for the ball. Calm reigned in the atelier, as always. Or rather Tom Tam, the couturier reigned, with a pair of scissors hanging from a ribbon round his neck, a pin cushion as a watch, and plenty of sharp words to go around. Tom Tam had started life as the dreamy Thomas Tam Tuck Teck, but had shed all the alliterations for the elegant two. Standing now on a felt covered podium before a three-screen mirror, and having five different people studying her every angle, and every fold and crevice of the pale mint duchesse satin gown felt oddly reassuring. For the two hours Dana was to be pinned and tucked, she didn’t need to feel the pinpricks of her emotions, nor the misery of her doubts that perhaps, Eli might not be the artist-prince that he she had thought him. “How can I be so wrong? Not again! And at my age too!” thought Dana. 
Dana Lee, never lucky in love! She briefly thought about the first boy she had fallen in love with in school. 

“Tom Tam,” sighed Dana, in her own clothes at last. “I hope this will be the last of the fittings. I seriously can afford no more time and now we must finalise the shoes and things – probably not gloves. Pretentious, you know,” said Dana as she placed on a vast muslin-covered table, which displayed ranks of gloves and silk flowers and lace collars her galuchet Asprey jewellery case. Unlocking it, she showed the grizzled couturier black velvet trays of jewellery that she intended to wear.

25 June 2012


Gucci Spring 2013


Givenchy Spring 2012
Gucci Spring 2013


ck Calvin Klein Spring Summer 2010
Givenchy Fall 2012
Gucci Spring 2013


The Prada man is togged out in children’s androgynous clothes, which have the graphic, flat pattern of paper doll seperates. Square, oversized tunics, and cropped straight pants are decorated by wide white stripes, a contrast border around a clean neck or a graphic placket or a hem, its sharp lines emphasising the idea of reduction, and simplicity. Again there is a 1970s note, the wide stripes bring to mind the athletic clothes of that era. Even the shoes were exactly the same unisex athletic sandal (worn with black socks!) from beginning to end. The tick-tock sameness of the collection, like an assembly line or a line of uniformed students, is yet another form of retreat from the turmoil of the times into the order and discipline of a perfect age.

NOT THE LADY: Aung San Suu Kyi's Speech at Oxford University

A charming, elegant speech made on a summer's day in Oxford. I like that she isn't slick and glib; She's graceful and so stylish!

24 June 2012

SPRING 2013 MENSWEAR: Dolce & Gabbana

I really love this collection!
It got me all excited because most importantly, the clothes answer the brief of what one wants to wear when the weather gets sizzling hot, as it has right now. There are enough baroque prints and colours to make it look contemporary (Versace by way of Givenchy, yes?), the cut and fits look comfortable and the shorts and cropped pants look flattering and so easy to wear. What more can you ask for?

Nostalgia and an escape to a more innocent time is what this collection seems to be about. Clicking through this collection felt like watching Cinema Paradiso, or a romantic melange of all those old Italian movies and hark back to Domenico Dolce's and Stefano Gabbana Sicilian roots. Their latest collection is an entire Dolce and Gabbana village, with urchins, salemen, sailor, piano-tuner, the motley cast, mostly non-models, actually drawn from Sicilian towns and villages, modelling clothes that could have come striding out of an especially precious vintage store. It said authentic and felt emotional, which is a rare and beautiful thing in fashion right now. 
Although Dolce & Gabbana seems to have carved out a business making clothes mined from looking back at fashions past, the appeal of this season has a lot to do with a certain rustic simplicity and innocence, obvious if you compare this collection with the gilded and elaborate opulence of the last (Fall 2012). The humility and charm of the really high-waisted pleated shorts, the faded colours and antique prints, the oversized striped cotton shirts and linen with raw hems, the awning-stripes and pyjama tops, the sailor tees, all spell summer, sun and sea. The escape is from the formality of the city and the cares of the adult (many of the models were in fact children). The tightly belted, hand-me-down look, and three-piece suits do not say ‘slick banker’ but rather have that well-worn look of something worn by a country doctor. 


Tomas Maier's collection has a feeling of out-of-the-city escapism and the freedom of the open road; this is of a piece with the rest of the collections seen thus far. The overall trope seems to be ease and an escape to a more innocent time. There is a hint of the 1970s hippie movement, full of peace and love.

At Bottega Veneta, the fringe and exaggerated eyelet closings for collars are childish clothes, and have a Robin Hood quality about them. Are we playing Sherwood Forest today? Lacing was used rather than buttons, a frontier touch, with matching fringed booties that immediately recall the happiness of playing at cowboys and Indians.

 Little boys grow up into jocks with an emphasis on the athletic seperates of youth, a hot teenage brother going off to a game perhaps, with the sporty panels and zip-fronts.

The colour scheme in this passage is has adult sensuality, and the fabrics have a sweaty sheen.

Mainly, the shapes have the easy fit of clothes that can be pulled over heads, like most children’s clothes, such as T-shirts; The majority of tops were in fact collarless and based on the tee.

Innocent days: A dreamy floral, which appeared halfway through the show, in ensembles of gauzy layers of floral print is as soft and feminine as it sounds, and rendered the most straightforward jackets a cute ‘play-date’ quality. Along with the tunic shirts, long-over-longer overshirts that covered the crotch give a neutered, sexless effect, an obvious retreat from alpha male virility. 

23 June 2012


I enjoyed recently:
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel was flagged out to me by PH (there's not much publicity for it) who knew I was a fan of two of its actors the Dames Maggie Smith and Judi Dench. And who can resist Ridley Scott's Prometheus? The Youtube trailers left me salivating like one of his slimey creatures! In retrospect, the two movies aren't as different as they at first seem. Both are about the idea of "aliens" aren't they? 'Aliens' were invented as a critique of life on Earth. An alien's different configuration can be tailored specifically to highlight whatever qualities the author or director wishes to highlight about the human conditon, to demonstrate a finer, more moral or rational way of behaving. Aliens can teach us how to live.

The predictable plot of John Madden's The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel didn't seem promising at all: a group of pensioners are separately lured to India by a Photoshopped promo and wind up in a run-down hotel in Jaipur run by an ebullient native boy played by the sexy, likable (yes, different things) Dev Patel. He dashes about with great energy and good nature but otherwise has no idea what he’s doing. The 'aliens' include a widow (Dench), an old flirt (Celia Imrie), a spinster who needs a hip replaced (Smith), a tragic Don Juan (Ronald Pickup), an ex-jurist (Tom Wilkinson), an unhappily-married couple (Penelope Wilton and the wonderful Bill Nighy). There are no violent surprises nor any special effects at all, just great craftsmanship. The actors are all very good, the pacing and editing is good. India is a metaphor for life, with its dazzling foreignness, the crowds, noise, and dust, a great challenge for us all. It's also wonderfully funny. 
(Maggie Smith and Dev Patel)

I can't buy into the online Prometheus mumbo-jumbo: the pseudo-religious, pseudo-biological, and pseudo-mythological debate seems to be something that Ridley Scott may have encouraged or engendered (it is hinted at in the movie) and if you care for such things, you can read it anywhere. I'm here to say that it's a great movie, wonderfully crafted and thoroughly enjoyable in the way that unseen hostile creatures skittering, slithering, and oozing in the dank dark can be enjoyable. Prometheus, filmed in 3-D, is Scott's first sci-fi project since Blade Runner (which I loved!), and it has impressive audiovisuals — grand, expensive, and apocalyptic. Effects are judiciously used, and the bombastic set pieces forward the weighty plot, or otherwise serve a good scare, the opposite of glib. 

Even if you, like me, didn't exactly get the opening sequence, where next to a thunderous waterfall, a caped "Engineer" sips a poisoned chalice and disintegrates, you'll likely be thrilled by zooming into his DNA-laden chromosomes that balletically disperse in the wate: from these fragments the human race will eventually be born. The movie jumps into action only when two archeologists, Elisabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and her boyfriend, Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green, gorgeous), become part of the crew of a corporate spaceship, Prometheus, embarking on a two-year journey to the planet on which, they believe, the Engineers who created us originate.
The expedition is headed by Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron. slick, sexy), and tended by David (Michael Fassbender), an androgynous android whose favourite movie is Lawrence of Arabia; He minces about like C3PO and has an English accent like Peter O’Toole’s. It is David’s movie: polite, obsequious, subtle, ironic and sinisterly malevolent.

Prometheus may be sold as a prequel to the Aliens franchise and it certainly shares some preoccupations and visual motifs with the old shocker. The sets, spaceship, the demographics of the crew, and mostly the glistening, viscous creatures that violate and invade the human body, the barely seen creature that pursues its victims through enclosed corridors, eliminating one after another, the unheard screams. Yet, despite what you may have read, Prometheus is not a literal a prequel, although it is just as wonderfully scarey if less darkly claustrophobic.

The crew root around in mucky tunnels and caverns, greeted by holographic apparitions that look like something directly out of Star Wars. There is a serpentine creature underfoot, mysterious carvings like from a Sumerian tomb, black goo and jars of organic ominous matter. Inevitably, Shaw gets impregnated with an Alien baby, and we witness a Cesarean vividly strange and horrible and yes, slightly comic. The talented Rapace is so good, she didn't male this a LOL scene. Shaw is a Scott heroine, and Rapace makes me want to see the sequel, because I'm sure there's one. Despite what the critics say, this movie earns respect. It's wonderful escapist fun and the psuedo scientific/ mythic/ relgious hints work to add another layer of entertainment.



A Glamorous Festival Festival Cocktail Party, 6.30pm
In the third change of outfits for the day, the gruelling day in the fashion trenches just got a little longer for the fashion practitioners with the official festival festival cocktail for VIPs. You need your clothes to look immaculate and fresh, because the faces got wan and weary as the day drags into night without a moment to call one's own. As a weary Dana Lee made her way into the champagne salon, in the converted foyer of the museum (British Colonial style), she immediately caught sight of Bella Teo making her way towards her with purpose, "like one of those stray wild boars at Bishan Park," thought Dana. Bella Teo was in all-black Prada ("boar-coloured" thought Dana) and as they air kissed, which was the habit of the fashion flock, even after a parting of half an hour, between friends or enemies. Cutting through the throng like a hot knife through butter, Bella took Dana’s hand, saying into her ear, “I’ve just been hearing the most ridiculous thing about you and Eli Kee! You, really, we, I mean, must do something to stop this. Dana, the whole room is heaving with the rumour that you are seriously seeing Eli – of course I’ve been defending you! I’ve been saying to everyone ‘of course not. Dana and Eli? Perish the thought. There must be at least a decade between them!’ Let’s go and talk in a quiet corner shall we?” said Bella.
She led Dana to the center of the salon where there was a gazebo artfully trailing with ivy, and here, the two leading ladies of fashion sipped champagne and talked in private, in full view of the party, which circulated around them. This is what they said:
Bella: Dana, I want to tell you this because although you are now my competitor at work, I still regard you very much as my mentor and someone who has taught me lessons I will never forget. I’ve said this before and I say this again – you are like a mother to me – a mother I never had; I lost my mother when I was quite young, as you know…(Here, Bella paused and the sly light once again flashed momentarily in eyes). Dana I’ve been wanting to confide this to someone for so long and I’ve not dared to, but when I heard you were quite close to Eli, as a friend you know, I immediately thought ‘but Dana Lee is the perfect person to confide in’; I’ve been wanting to say this the entire day sitting next to you at the shows, but you never gave me the opening; And perhaps a fashion show isn’t the best place for me to tell you what’s on my mind, and with the ghastly music, probably not the best place to solicit sympathy after all. But I can’t bear it any longer and I need to tell someone at once.”
Dana: (She had started off quite cool towards Bella, but had to admit that her curiosity, if not exactly her sympathy, had been aroused) You are being too modest Bella Teo. As you know, you’re perfectly able to fend for yourself in your career, and I’m certain, in every area of your life. I’ve never claimed to have been a mentor, much less a mother to you, and all I can say is you deserve exactly what you’ve worked so hard to get. As for this other matter, which sounds personal, that you seem to want to tell me, perhaps you may want to reconsider. I’m hardly in a position to advice you... on this or any other matter.”
Bella: Oh but Dana. I’m sure you’ll want to know what I have to say. It concerns Eli.
Dana: Oh. Eli. I’ve said this to everyone and I repeat – Eli and I are good friends. I happen to think he’s a very gifted musician, and has the makings of a star. I’m supportive of all talent as you must know. It's merely a function of my job. Please not to make anything of it.
Bella: But it’s just because I know that you are so supportive of Eli that I feel I can broach this topic with you. I know you are just friends with Eli. I believe you, because Eli told me just the same, when I asked him.
Dana: Eli what?
Bella: I asked Eli. And he said that you were just friends – exactly what you said Dana, almost to the word. And as you probably know, Eli is not given to lies – he wouldn’t lie to me especially. It’s just that you are now such good friends with both of us that I feel that you are in the best position to advice me.  
Dana: You know Eli… well?
Bella: I don’t know how you mean by ‘well’… But we’ve been on and off for years. Didn’t he mention me at all? ("Never," thought Dana.) We were already in a relationship before you picked me to join Glossy. During those years I worked so hard for you, and I probably neglected him a little, but things are good between us again and with everything quite settled in my position, and with Eli making something of a career of his passion for music, I’m thinking perhaps it could be time to make the relationship something more permanent… more generally acknowledged, instead of it being so hidden as it has been thus far.”
Dana: Your relationship with Eli? What are you talking about? Do you mean a romantic relationship Bella Teo? I’m sorry this is a little confusing and I’m sure I’m not getting something… I…
Bella: I’m sure I’m making myself quite plain; but perhaps you don’t believe your ears. Here, Dana Lee, let the pictures speak a thousand words.

And for the second time that week, and hopefully never again, Dana Lee found herself staring at pictures of Eli Kee in a handphone not her own. Bella’s photo archive was full of pictures of Eli, sheepish Eli, suave Eli, Eli with his Labrador Chopin, Eli in his panel van, Eli with a familiar woman on a sofa, Eli with the same woman at a meal. That woman wasn’t Dana. Mostly wearing black, that woman in the pictures was Bella Teo.

22 June 2012



Front Row at the Singapore Fashion Festival, 1pm.

Loud rock music.
Strobe lights.
A hectic schedule of fashion shows in the stuffy heat of a white tent in the middle of town. Long lines forming to get pass the door whores for the civilians. Red carpet, air kisses and fake accents for the fashion professionals. Welcome to the silly world of the fashion circus - some dread it, some thrive on it. Dana Lee, who craved order and perfection, had never been so grateful for the distraction of a fashion festival as she was for this present one. The tedious (but predictable and orderly)  rituals of the semi-annual spectacle provided a welcome relief to the current chaos of her personal life. As Dana was fawningly ushered to her accustomed place dead centre on the front row of the catwalk, she was more conscious than ever that all eyes were on her. She supposed that on top of everything else there was to say about her (and there are many rumours, almost all untrue), there was now making the rounds in the uncomfortable white bleaches of the back ranks that tantalising matter of her romance with Eli Kee. 

Young Eli, the new music star, a younger man, was someone deemed quite unsuitable for Dana Lee. This was the general opinion, as she was given to understand by Adam Tan. It wasn't anybody's business but her own, but if you live in the public eye, whether you liked it or not, the public would be eyeing you, good or bad. Her thoughts drifted back to the jarring end of the dinner when Adam Tan had brought up a topic rather unlikely: The topic of her romantic life. This struck rather a wrong note (oh, where's the order in things?) to what had always been a cosy, familiar relationship with a trusted friend, who however intimate, had never entirely been more than professional in concern. That Adam should have placed any emphasis on her intimate life, or that he should highlight something so personal, had in a twinkling between fruit (Shizuoka melon, Kyoho grapes) and cognac (Grande Champagne Verreries, 1904, Berry Bros & Rudd), shifted the tone of her long relationship with Adam Tan into something she no longer recognised or could think of as reassuring, easy or unambiguous. Between digestive and the drive home, Adam Tan had not only questioned the wisdom of her ‘going out’ with young Eli, but also insinuated himself as a possible alternative.
“It’s time for me to settle down dear Dana, and I’m accustomed to the finest, as you know,” Adam had said, like a business proposal. “I’ve been looking about, I’m not ashamed to tell you. My standards are high, but of course, only the best for me always, as you know… and my future family. In short, Dana, I’ve come to consider you as the perfect candidate for this particular role,” had been Adam Tan’s final words. “The role of my wife.”
As Dana took her place at her seat, with a couple of photographers flashing snaps at her, she noticed the empty place on her left, wondering who it could be reserved for. The regular faces (all bored and impassive) were all already in place, and it was already more than a half an hour late. “Perhaps,” thought Dana, “a celebrity of some sort. They do love a celebrity nowadays." Though why celebrities, however minor, must always be later than everyone else is something Dana particularly disapproved. She prized punctuality and order, more than precious gems and perfume. "Who could it be? Someone pleasant I hope," was her dismal thought. What does one say to these celebrities? 

And then a commotion erupted in a knot of flashes heading Dana’s way. And who should be shown to the empty place left of centre on the front row, right next to the famous Dana Lee, the undoubted queen of fashion? Why, it was none other than Bella Teo, of course.

18 June 2012


Isn't it scarey? Spring 2013 is upon us! Shocking!
The first-ever menswear fashion week in London has concluded last Sunday. Clicking over the videos and runway pictures of The London Collections: Men quickly, you'll surely ask "why?". Why would anyone bother?  Do we need another fashion week? Of any sort? Do we need to stretch the traditonal semi-annual seasonal fashion circus even longer?


I didn't immediately fall in love with this Jay Chou song but on repeated hearings, in DH's car, in one taxi after another, I got hooked, and decided to upload it onto my iPod (yes, I have two!) and iPhone (obviously, this technical feat deserves a long blog posting all by itself). I've been listening to it ever since. Here's the quite-strange video. The wonderfully gifted Mr Chou has suddenly gone quite matured, so this song, for me, has the added sadness of lost youth.
Isn't it great though that this video has the lyrics translated in English? It immediately lifted what could have been merely another superb sentimental ballad into something memorable, quite up there with any of Mr Chou's best. There's metaphysical poetry in the lyrics - unexpectedly, movingly used. In my mind's eye, Jay is still the youth in this picture
I've said this many times before, and written about this a few times: Jay Chou's appeal, for me at least, is because he seems the ideal Ah Beng (none Singaporeans may not understand this genre of masculinity). He is the soul of the Ah Beng. His singing is like the sweet and strong essence of 10,000 Ah Bengs rolled into one keening, sobbing, sighing tune.



Dana Lee at home, 5pm.
Dana is flat on her chintz chaise (faded cabbage roses), wrapped in a linen robe from Morocco (puce stripes). Cordelia Theresa Cheng (denim dungarees), facialist to the stars, was working her magical fingers on Dana Lee's lymph nodes, rubbing and stabbing her face into submission in readiness for dinner with Adam Tan. It’s been a tough, white-knuckled period at work with Pulp Productions, which was putting Flair online (at last!) and in an App. This immense digital project, which seemingly involved a cast of thousands (fraught), and a multitude of copyright issues, has certainly taken its toll on Dana. The digital project came on top of running the paper version of Flair, on top of keeping to the trappings and routine of being a fashion figure (which were as rigorous and as demanding as a geisha’s in training) – of which this facial in a darkened room (black-out roller blinds faced in Thai silk) formed part. And above everything else, Dana also struggled to fit into her corset-tight schedule the now regular covert dates with Eli Kee – too much for a girl to do, surely?

What's romance without one or two challenges to make things more interesting? Dana and Eli were going on proper dates at last, and no longer meeting (slyly) on platonic pretext. Over the months, Dana had come to rely on Eli’s simple habits and good nature: his idealism and optimism, balanced by pragmatism and common sense provided perspective, and his natural manners provided an escape from, and a reality check for, the high pressure bubble of glamour publishing. Eli was like a prayer answered, and Dana Lee wasn’t about to give him up for anything in the world.
“Dana Lee, you actually look radiant,” declared Cordelia Theresa (behind a hygiene mask). “I don’t know why you wanted this emergency facial when you’re only due next Tuesday. You hardly look stressed, really. You almost have the glow of youth – did you do something at Dr Chong’s?”
“Cordelia Theresa Cheng! You are super kind,” said Dana, her eyes hidden by cotton pads (witch hazel). “It’s been months since I saw Dr Chong; It can only be the Bach I’ve been listening to,” added Dana, almost giggling under the salt mask (Dead Sea). “And thanks to your weekly facials too, sweetie! But now you really must let yourself out and let me lie quiet for another 15 minutes and then I have to run! Turn on the bath for me will you my sweet?”

At Dinner with Adam Tan in a Private Dining Room with a View, 8pm.
Dana Lee’s dinners with Adam Tan were partly routine, cozy catch-ups with an old friend and business partner made charming by a bat squeak of flirtation. And Adam had just come back from another of his mysterious business trips (Seoul, Tokyo), brimming with news and projections. Adam’s wide business associations placed him squarely in the increasingly diminishing map of the real world, and as the young mogul sat across the table talking about world finance trends, the competitive world of LCD screen makers and the rise of commodities and the fall of property, the hurdles of e-retail, etc, Dana’s thoughts drifted (unwittingly, but very pleasurably) to Eli. This was uncharacteristic. Dana Lee usually sat rapt, some would say "geisha-like", as everything Adam Tan said bore relevance to her work and reflected her world. But tonight, Adam sounded insignificant, a dog barking in the night in an empty house down the street. Only Eli seemed real and alive, his smiling image flitting in the sparkle of the wine glasses and his breath warm in Adam’s cigar fumes (Havana).
Then Adam broke into Brooke’s reverie: “Are you alright dear girl? You seem distracted, which is unlike you.”
“Ooops. I'm sorry Adam, I’m perfectly alright. Maybe I should have skipped the dessert and I'm more than a little drunk? Maybe it’s time to call it a night, actually,” said Dana, suppressing a yawn (a struggle).
“Dana…” Adam said with uncharacteristic hesitation, for it was ever his habit to bulldoze his way into any given topic with the confidence of self-made millions, “Dana, I don’t quite know how to say this but I…”
“Oh Adam, you Silly Billy, out with it,” said Dana Lee, still dreamy, unaware. “We are such old friends now, you can say anything to me… just that I’m so-o-o sleepy.”
“Dana, is this true?” Suddenly Adam was all business. “What I hear about you seeing this young musical protégé of yours? This jazz singer, is it true?”
Dana said, suddenly snapping into the present: “What can you mean Adam Tan? Whatever can you mean?”
And it was at that moment that Snowdrop Catherine Yeo Lay Leng’s world came crashing into Dana Lee’s. Over the snow white tablecloth strewn with the glittering detritus of an expensive meal, one that Snowdrop had never eaten, Adam handed Dana his iPhone (4S), on whose screen displayed, in grainy colour, a picture of Eli, with stars in his eyes, and a chick, in a vintage brocade Yves Saint Laurent dress - a chick who bore a complete resemblance to herself. 

15 June 2012



1am, A room in a four-room flat in Boon Keng Road. 

In quite a different world from that of Dana Lee and her ilk, in a flat in Boon Keng to be precise, Snowdrops (aka Catherine Yeo Lay Leng) a 22 year old blogger and president of Eliments: The Official Eli Kee Fan Club sat in her sunless bedroom, before the flare of a snow white laptop monitor, a floor fan whirring away the afternoon stupor. She’s uploading pictures of Eli Kee onto the Eliments website for the 3, 481 Eliments members to admire. These pictures ranged from those of Eli at his album promotions (sheepish Eli), to those scanned from magazines (suave Eli), such as those from Flair, as well as paparazzi-style snaps taken of Eli unawares (goofy Eli), waiting for coffee at Starbucks, say, or picking up dry cleaning (very goofy Eli). Some of these photos were sent in by Eliments fans, and hence were of varying picture quality. Snowdrops herself didn't like many of theses amateurish shots, but they did seem to up the site traffic: Pictures of her idol ambushed by one rabid girl after the next (but all curiously similar) with their faces pressed up against their Eli’s, saying ‘cheese’, and with their fingers in a ‘peace’ sign. Click, click; Snowdrops had seen them all.

But today, the intrepid and enterprising Snowdrops, who on top of running the fan club and website, also worked waiting shifts at various posh eateries in town, had something rare and revealing to post: She had stolen two snapshots of her idol on her iPhone on what appeared to be a romantic dinner at The French Place last Friday.  To think that Snowdrops had wanted to call in sick that night! She really can’t stand her supervisor there, the prissy Maitre’d Kennerf De Silva. But she would have kicked herself blue had she missed her idol Eli in such intimate circumstances. Table 12, the table in her section, the one by the French window! The two snaps weren’t really up to Snowdrops's usual standards because the lighting was truly quite low (how these people can eat such long meals practically in the dark was beyond Snowdrops) and the candles did flicker so in the aircon – but here was Eli (with stars in his eyes) and a mystery lady in what looked like a Chinese coat (Snowdrops couldn’t rightly identify a 1991 Yves Saint Laurent couture dress even if it was lit by lanterns). Who was that chick? How was she going to caption this? Snowdrops knew that these two pictures were going to rock the world of Eliments – and beyond – for even the mainstream media never managed to catch “Eli on the sly with mystery chick” (that was her caption for these pictures). Sly Eli! That would be a new spin for the Eliments – “Oh the ripples this will cause,” thought Snowdrops as she clicked ‘publish’.
Little knew Snowdrops that with that one fatal click of her clammy finger, that the ripples would cause her world to collide with that of Dana Lee’s rarefied one, in wave after wave of misery.

14 June 2012



9pm. A Garden Dining Room.

Dana and Eli are eating a candle-lit dinner, their first.
“Six months. It’s been six months of casual and clandestine meetings with Eli,” thought Dana Lee as she put on the finishing touches for dinner the dinner date with Eli Kee (Azzedine Alaia lace dress and a cloud of Opium). This is possibly their first proper ‘date’ with all the trimmings. Dana was one of those girls who warmed up to men carefully, ever aware of the fictions of attraction. She was in a position to attract status-seekers and poseurs of all sorts (and did), and over the years she’s had chalked up her fair share of would-be romances, all failures. 
“But something about Eli that is special,” thought Brooke. “There’s substance somewhere, something unshakable and real. I wonder where that special thing comes from? This gravity in one so young?" 

Dana dated her awakened feelings to that 'thank you' bouquet from Eli for her help in making his album cover. Hidden in the peony stems was a leaf-shaped thumb drive; In it, six files of Eli playing Bach fugues.
The dinner tonight was arranged by Dana – after all, she had enough of the life of a starving recording artist, fun as it has been for the six months. All those great coffee shops and walks in parks and delicious-but-not-comfortable meals at out of the way dives and bubble tea in the panel van. The panel van! “Am I spoilt?” thought Dana. “I like nice settings, and comfort and nice things... and I really don’t mind if I never got into that car again!”

The six months had been a bubble of romance – which could balloon because of its unlikely venues and hidden places: Dana was well aware that her liason with Eli would be deemed unsuitable by all and sundry, and the bubble would certainly have burst in the cold light of the fashion world. Dana thought about her romantic failures. 
"Am I going to be wrong yet again? These things are so confusing...” 

13 June 2012



Mrs Tina Lee, Ex Beauty Queen, from her sofa.
“She’s been in one of her moods; I know my daughter – playing Bach night and day is never a good sign. I introduced Bach to Dana you know. Dr Chiong told me that patients at the Mental Health Clinic are prescribed three hours of Bach a day – said to be so improving and calming for the nerves – yes, something chemical happens in the brain – and then the patients can paint quite beautiful pictures of koi afterwards!”

Dodo Chuan, Top Photographer, from his gym locker.
“I told Brooke that I would do anything for her but not Eli Kee’s album cover pictures for that kind of money; I explained to Dana that the amount wouldn’t even be enough to pay for my bodybuilding supplements. You know what she said? She said since I’m talking numbers, she should remind me of the number of covers she’d given me at Glossy, and the number of covers she has yet to give me at Flair. Also, the number of her clients that she’s sent my way over the number of years, not to mention the number of years of friendship, advice and inspiration.

“So I’m shooting Eli’s album cover pictures next Tuesday.”

Queenie, Editorial Assistant, Flair, from somewhere along Orchard Road:
“And what do you think Eli Kee thanked Ms Dana with after she moved heaven and earth to get Dodo to shoot his album cover? A bunch of flowers! Yes, and not from Florientals either, just some random bunch of – I think – pink peonies? Was she pleased? Can one tell with Ms Dana? She’s quite the ice blonde if ever a Teochew girl can be an ice blonde. And do you think Eli could be the stalker type? I keep thinking I see his Peugeot panel van in the vicinity of our office, seriously. And when I look again, it’s gone – but who else can it be? That very dust encrusted, rather humble, once-white panel van? It’s causing me great anxiety you know. I have six shoots to source for, I can’t have Dana think Eli Kee, the mad musician, is stalking – moi!”

Ritchie, Top Hairstylist, from a massage bed in Chinatown:

“She seemed buoyant, you know; kept humming those d-d-dreadful jazz tunes – I mean who listens to jazz any more? She came in wanting curls! I said d-d-dear Dana, at your age? And aren’t we getting a bit g-g-giddy with the colour – too light you know. She just giggled like a school girl, as if she had a secret. Oh, said I, my antennae up at once, has Adam Tan made something of a p-p-proposition? Dana you naughty, naughty girl pra-a-ay tell. And you know what? She laughed out loud – that wonderful Dana Lee laugh – quite like a ray of sunshine in the depths of winter, I’m telling you. Quite m-m-melted my heart, but bitch didn’t say a thing. Quite the sphinx, our dear Ms Lee.”

Emma Tang, Features Editor, Flair, at her desk:

“Ms Dana had to go to Bangkok to see the Abbot of the Jade Buddha Temple, so I had to deliver some gifts she had forgotten at the office to the Seletar Airbase. She was to fly on Mr Tan’s private jet. It was eight and I had just arrived with her packages, and what do you think Dana came in? Not the royal blue Rolls! A rather dusty off-white panel van wended its way to the tarmac and Dana got out! Quite bizarre, to see those lovely Goyard bags coming off the back of that vehicle after being wedged in with what looked like a drum set! Mr Pilot looked quite shocked really. Never saw a car this in need of a wash. It wasn’t Mr Tan’s style, I can tell you.
“And then I remembered Queenie’s stalker. Queenie said he had a stalker in a dirty white panel van! Queenie’s stalker sending Dana Lee to the plane at eight in the morning, whatever can it mean? Before I could ask Ms Dana, she had skipped up the two steps into the plane, and the van had zoomed off in a cloud of dust.”

11 June 2012


Chapter 4

3 pm, DoDo Chuan’s Studio. Dodo Chuan’s studio, housed in a gritty industrial block on the fringes of town, was familiar territory for Dana Lee. Its shabby chic interior was second home for Dana, who had spent many hours of her life doing shoots, and poring over endless images, and having long discussions on art and life, with the incomparably eccentric Dodo, right here in the caverns of the studio. Like a vampire, Dodo never sees daylight. Before Dana had become fashion’s foremost personage, she was already working with Dodo, when Dodo Chuan was but a mere fledgling photographer with one Nikon camera. Their careers’ twin meteoric ascents bonded them like no blood could. Their aesthetics were completely in sync, and where Dana went, Dodo followed, trailing cables, lights, computers, cameras and an endless trail of glossy images that defined an era in fashion.
Entering the anteroom of Dodo’s studio, Dana was struck afresh by the haphazard yet refined décor of the loft-like space. Dominating the foyer was an Ng Eng Teng cast iron sculpture (1981) whose one extremity had become, over the years, an umbrella stand. Suspended from the ceiling was an actual sampan (1890s) converted into a lamp. But what struck a different note today, literarily, was the sound of music. Dodo liked to blast hip hop during his sessions, but today, what rang out mellifluously was a Bach piano solo. Dana Lee stopped in her Pierre Hardy heels, listening to the music being played with virtuosity and feeling, before parting the black drapes and entered the studio.

In a pool of light, a beautiful young man sat playing Bach on a vintage Steinway (1936). His unconventional features were made attractive by his rapt expression as his long fingers flew over the antique ivory keys, holding the entire studio (11 people in all) spellbound. For once, no assistant dashed up to take Dana’s Birkin. Till there was a pause, and Dodo’s firm claps broke the spell.
Then Queenie took Dana’s arm and ushered her onto the set. “Eli Kee, this is Dana Lee, our editor,” gushed Queenie, “Ms Dana, this is Eli Kee the musician we are re-shooting today.”
Eli stood up to, taking Dana’s hand. “I’m honoured, Ms Lee, thank you for taking the trouble…” said Eli in a deep basso, a big man’s sensual voice rumbled from the profound depths of his lean young person.
“No, I’m honoured, lovely live playing. I had no idea, no one told me you’re a classical musician, I – and Bach is my particular favourite too, this piece – ”
“No, no, no,” laughed Eli, his white smile wide as the keyboard, “I’m promoting my jazz album, it’s just that playing Bach really helps me chill – it’s stressful for me to do a photo-shoot you know, not that I’m not grateful to appear in Flair, but to do this twice! – and so many people scrutinising and fussing – and…”
“Right,” boomed Dodo Chuan, from without the circle of light. “Now that Dana has met Eli, can we get this shoot started?”
When Dana was inspired by her subject, her enthusiasm was infectious, and Dodo fed off Dana’s energy. Creativity filled the studio, inspiring everyone: Maybe it was the big man’s voice in the thin man’s body, or the sensitive fingers playing Bach, or Eli’s El Greco face – whatever it was, Dodo’s pictures of Eli turned out stunning that day.



Six months later, at The New Office at Flair.
Dana Lee's confidence might have been shaken after her hasty exit from Glossy and her subsequent hiding, but it was quickly regained by throwing herself entirely into her work at Flair. Dana had to start her life all over again working in the huge corporation that is Pulp Productions. It may seem to be the ultimate job in fashion but it’s actually very tough and political and her first weeks at Flair made Dana Lee question everything about her life. As the new girl on the block, she didn’t have a single friend there and no network of support. There wasn’t even a Mr Chan there to give her guidance or approve her initiatives. She couldn’t even get her coffee to be made right, and her suite of rooms was windowless. That means no growing green things: so much for glamour. 
But being the professional that she was, Dana prevailed, and before six months and two issues had passed, she, and her new office, was running like a well-oiled machine. “It’s really beginning to feel quite the same Mommy,” Dana assured Mrs Lee over the phone from her office, as she rolled up the sleeves of her printed Balenciaga jacket with the pagoda shoulders. “Please stop worrying so much darling. I’m a big girl now, didn’t you hear Bella say?”
This was a fairly typical office morning, where a kind of hush disguised a white-knuckled panic as yet another issue of Flair was born. So many things could go wrong! Dana was looking closely at the page proofs for a story on the city’s hottest new musicians with her assistants. The planned portraits were stunning – but for one. “Emma, and Queenie. This picture stands out for all the wrong reasons – this young man looks like a cadaver with no neck. Who put him in this ghastly brown thing? We have to do a re-shoot!” ordered Dana. Emma was the features editor and Queenie was her drag queen editorial assistant.  “Yes Ms Dana,” they answered in unison.
“That's Eli Kee. We will at once and see if he’s available, he’s particularly hard to locate you know, he’s so sketchy and elusive on the phone,” added Emma.
“And he did say he was busy composing songs this week,” said Queenie, clearly smitten. “He’s super talented, Ms Dana.”
“Well, you can tell Mr Eli Kee that he may be composing songs but we have a magazine to publish. And do remind him that this is Flair. And he looks like a neckless cadaver. That should get him back to the studio pronto!” Dana said. “Is that quite clear?”
When the two young ladies exited her minimalist office, Dana made a mental note: “Do they even know what they are doing? The most challenging, and rewarding part of my work is to groom new talent – but these are children. I shall have to go to the shoot to make sure things turn out the way I want. There’s no time for another mistake: Or else there’ll have two more cadavers here – Emma and Queenie.”

09 June 2012


 Chapter 2
6am, Cocooned inside Adam Tan's old Rolls.
Anything told to Ritchie can be considered public news in three blow-dries flat.
Before Dana Lee’s pedicure had dried, the entire industry had begun to buzz and embellish on the bare facts of Dior Lee’s sudden ‘decision’ to leave Glossy. Many a supper was made more delicious, and many a cocktail made more refreshing, by dishing over the facts and fictions of Dana Lee’s career. Well, the fashion world is built on scandals real and imagined, and if there was a beautiful woman in the center of it, and great wealth and a bitch fight, let’s not hang up! Manicured fingers got very busy tapping out the story in myriad versions on mobiles; Earrings fairly rattled with the pace of gossip unspooling; Lipsticked lips smacked and pronounced Dana Lee’s fall from grace. And by the time Dana Lee dropped exhausted into her own sofa at home, Adam Tan wasn’t the only one hounding her on the phone. 
The whole world, or at least Dana’s whole world, was.
Dana Lee was under siege. All the glow and calm from her sabbatical was wiped out in one dramatic afternoon.
So it was that at the crack of dawn, Dana Lee found herself bundled into Adam’s midnight blue 1978 Rolls and headed for his new Sentosa Cove villa. Her ex beauty queen mother, Mrs Tina Lee, sent her poor daughter to the drive. “Mommy, please don’t discuss this with anyone, and I mean anyone at all, and come to the villa when I send the car for you. I know the paint has hardly dried at the villa, but I need you Mommy,” said Dana. 
And then the midnight blue Rolls rolled away to the safe haven of Adam’s unoccupied villa. She will be safe there for the two weeks: “Not even my drycleaner would know I’m there, and the two weeks of silence would hopefully allow the heat of the story to die down. Some new gossip would surely have emerged by then. I could always invent something and tell Ritchie. Then I can start afresh at Flair. Thank god for good old Adam Tan,” thought Dana, behind her signature black shades. “And thank god for Louis Vuitton bags – they make even running away seem chic.”
Even the papers had tried to call Dana for a comment. Needless to say, little Bella made sure that her side of the story was heard loud and clear, by all and sundry, and on all platforms (tech-savvy is the new black after all). In her version, Bella played the brave little soldier to the hilt, hinting that Dana had abandoned her, betrayed Glossy, betrayed Mr Chan and all the good people who had supported her. “We were such a happy family here at Glossy,” was Bella’s line, “but Dana decided to leave us – I shall try my best to improve on what Dana has left behind .” In some stories Bella said ‘mess’, and in others she was said to have shed a tear. Poor little Bella, devious little Bella. Who’s to know which was which? Even Dana couldn’t tell and Dana had Bella under her nose (and thumb) for years! Another thing that Bella never failed to emphasise was how Dana was her mentor and a mother to her, taking the chance to stress how much older Dana was, and by implication how out of touch she really was with what was fashion right now.
“Really,” said Bella, “She’s from another generation.”

8am, The Sentosa Cove Villa.
“Truly,” thought Dana as she opened the fridge to see if there was anything for breakfast and finding only champagne. “This pad needs a woman’s touch.” Adam had bought this villa as an investment, and it was decorated as such. Adam himself lives in a duplex off the Botanical Gardens and this was a villa that he used to host out-of-town partners and guests. As such, there were no personal touches at all, and though expensively furnished and designed by the renown Ross & Browns, had no beauty. Unless you thought a hotel lobby beautiful – because that was what the entire three floor villa looked like – one extended hotel lobby of the international school. 
But in a sense, this anonymity was what Dana needed right now – she needed to be away from all that she knew so that she could reflect on the drama that was unfolding in her life. Central to it was the betrayal of Bella Teo. Idly, Dana wondered if Adam ever entertained women friends here. He was young, handsome and rich, and surely these houses were purpose-built to impress. “I’m sure those women would be impressed,” she thought. “There’s nothing so attractive as a man who stands on such a vast pile of cash. Still, couldn’t he have bought better carpets?” 


We don’t have summer here in the tropics of course. We have wilting, intoxicating heat (like right now) and then we have thunderous rainstorms; So when we refer to Summer in the magazine, we mean the fashion season, of course. But I think also, and equally relevant, is the metaphorical idea of summer. It’s mid year. We’ve toiled for six long months. School’s out – it’s time to take a breather, and reflect on what we’ve done in the first half of the year, taking stock before the Fall season starts, and we race ahead to the year’s end.
For me, this is the traditional time to reward myself with a little break, and nothing spells a break for me so much as a spell by the sea. Some of you prefer cities or snow, but there’s something atavistic about surf and sand, and I’ve chalked up quite a trail on some of the most immaculate beaches on earth. I’ve rested my weary head at some really splendid resorts – remote, comfortable, serene – with loved ones, and beloved books and my own music. This June was spent at the Aman in Tangalle, Sri Lanka, which richly captures the languor and sensuality of the best beach holidays, set as it is in the majesty of unspoilt nature. The gracefully minimalist resort recalled to me my first Aman holiday (Phuket, 1993): Those were the years of tanning fearlessly – we had such innocent pleasures then - I vividly recalled eating fat mangoes while watching my toes roast slowly brown under swaying, rustling trees. I don’t think anyone in this day and age will be foolish enough to sit out in the sun without an apothecary of lotions and potions, but we did then. We smoked, we drank, we had fun. And by fun, I don't mean diving. The sport is not all that environmentally friendly if you think about it – would you like a manta ray to visit you in your living room? No, I didn’t think so.

Of course you can enjoy a good rest right in the peace and privacy of your own verandah. In this age of frequent flyer atrocities, it’s the apogee of luxury to sleep in your own bed. I’m very possessive of my lazy days spent with the door firmly shutting the world shut out. Have a blissful summer!

08 June 2012



8am, Dana Lee's walk-in closet.
Still wearing the healthy glow of her recent six-month sabbatical, Dana Lee decided to dress herself more carefully than usual for her first day back at work at Glossy. It’s lovely to see her professional wardrobe still hanging immaculate in her walk-in closet, arranged by colour. Dana Lee ran her hands across the vari-textured sleeves, which seemed to be welcoming her back, begging to be worn.

“These outfits are my armour,” Dana Lee thought, scanning the collection for a look that would perfectly match her pensive mood. “They have stood me in good stead all through my Glossy days, and they will see me through my days at Flair, should I leave Glossy behind… If I leave Glossy behind…” That was how the conversation had ended with Adam Tan last night. A note of uncertainty had nagged the discussion. Dear, sweet, patient Adam was nudging her to join Flair, which being the local edition of an international franchise (like Vogue) would stand her in good stead, and up her professional profile immeasurably, Dana remained undecided. Glossy was her baby after all. “Besides,” Adam had said, “Don’t all you fashion girls want to be in Flair?”

Dana Lee had gone through every angle with Adam of her move to this new publication for months; the pros and cons were discussed at length, methodically on Adam’s end, like a mathematical equation; emotionally on Dana’s, for Glossy wasn’t just a job to her. It was a role that defined her, and had shaped her very being. It wasn’t easy to leave something like this behind, and how could an Adam Tan, millionaire business whiz that he may be, understand something like that? He had just chuffed at her for being sentimental, and before hanging up had reminded Dana (and not for the first time): “Besides what does it matter, whether it works out at Flair or not, or even if you do nothing at all? I’ll always be there for you; You know that right, dear Dana? I can afford it – you just go ahead and do whatever you feel like my dear girl.”

After months of lace sundresses and sandals, Dana is eager to get back into her work togs, something with a bit more structure and shape. Today, her chosen outfit is a couture Chanel jacket from her last summer in Paris. Made to her specific measurements after three separate fittings at the rue Cambon atelier, it was delivered to her at the suite at the Ritz in an enormous white Chanel casket. Dana shook out a silk tweed jacket coloured to look like denim from afar but was really an unusual mélange of purples and greens, with a braided trim of fraying denim. With this Dana chose a never-worn Marni bell skirt with a green floral print. To off-set the utterly feminine outfit, she chose a chunky gold Rolex watch that Adam had given her when she joined Glossy ten years ago.

“For good luck,” he had said. It bore his initials ‘AT’, for it was a watch he bought when he made his first million.

11am, Dana Lee's office at Glossy.
Looking at Dana Lee is just like looking at her magazine Glossy. The cover is her face, polished yet friendly; The lush fashion spreads are like her clothes, tasteful, varied, and sometimes eccentric; The writing is pure Dana Lee – her voice and her heart. This is no surprise because Glossy was created by Dana Lee, it is her brainchild, her blood, sweat and tears of a decade. Today, in her plant-filled corner office, she is looking over the work of her deputy, Bella Teo, a young girl she had picked out from a roomful of interns.

Bella Teo had risen quickly through sheer will through the ranks to become Dana Lee’s deputy editor in less than two years. She was just 25. Even Dana Lee was surprised by how little Bella had managed to grow so unexpectedly, and so quickly, quite without her noticing. “Like the weeds in my plants,” thought Dana Lee as she looked up over her office of a decade. How the sunny, minimalist corner suite had slowly accumulated with green things that grew and burgeoned! To visitors, Dana always appeared first as if she was working in a little garden. Dana Lee was looking at little Bella’s work because she was considering a life-changing move to Flair, where she will have to go almost immediately if she were to take up the big offer from Pulp Productions, a rich rival publisher to Glossy. The top position at Flair is every fashion lover’s dream job – to be the editor in chief of Flair! Dana the nurturer was considering taking little Bella along with her, so much had she come to depend on little Bella’s support and suggestions. She knew that Bella would be thrilled to follow her where she went – or would she? Bella may be a devoted little helper, and certainly was passionate about the whole untidy, unglamourous life of putting out a monthly, but there was something yet hidden and unknown about Bella which Dana had never uncovered.

Was little Bella really devoted to her? Or just to her world of jet-setting and fashion shows? “Little Bella at Flair,” thought Dana Lee. “Who would have thought? And yet, and yet, there’s this mad logic to it, so why am I even hesitating?”
Bella has certainly grown into Dana’s own image, a gradual transformation from a rather plain and even dowdy young girl in a Zara pantsuit to become a sophisticated, street smart fashion-authority in Prada, with her own two assistants now. Little mysterious Bella, not so little anymore, but still mysterious and unknowable.

6pm, Dana's Private Cabin at Ritchie's.
The day hadn’t gone quite as smoothly as Dana had planned.
Poor Dana Lee’s mind was in a tumult, and not for the first time did she wish that her late father was around to calm her and set her nerves to rights. Adam Tan was inundating her with calls, wanting to know what her decision was, but Dana was in no mood to discuss this matter, not even with good old Adam Tan. She had bolted from her office, almost running in her Louboutins, to Ritchie’s, her hairdresser of 15 years, at a posh address in town. She was known as Ms Lee there, and shown quickly to her dove grey private cabin. The attendant took her Kelly clutch, and soon she was swathed in a terry gown and having a foul-smelling hair mask applied. While the attendants massaged her scalp and the manicurist her feet, Dana could hardly attend to the constant inane, if soothing, patter of the girls talking about her tour of Thailand, Vietnam and Burma. Ms Lee this, Ms Lee that. They sounded like a pair of exotic birds twitting in a tree. Dana kept replaying in her mind her talk with her CEO, Mr Chan. She had felt that she owed it to Mr Chan to have a matured discussion about her move to Flair before an official resignation. Dana wanted to leave Glossy, but only with Mr Chan’s blessings. But Mr Chan had not even bothered to meet her and for once used his curt business tone to tell her that he had heard about her planned move to Flair and that he was expecting her resignation by 6pm. It was a short and precise conversation, leaving Dana Lee reeling. That was but the first bombshell.

The second bombshell hit her harder, and closer to the heart. Bella came to her office, and when Dana broached the subject of having Bella move with her to Flair, Bella quite coolly said, in that sly way she had, that she was very, very grateful for all that Dana had done for her, and all the many good things she had learnt from Dana. “But,” continued Bella, “I’m really not little Bella anymore. I’m quite grown up now, you see, and when Mr Chan proposed that I took your position at Glossy, I could hardly say no. I’m sure you’ll understand, after all you’re like my mother to me. You’ll do so, so well at Flair Dana, and you’ll find a much worthier deputy than me.”
“But Bella, how could Mr Chan, or you, or anyone, know about me going to Flair? I scarcely knew myself! I hadn’t even decided,” said Dana, anxiety making her throat dry like diet toast.

“But Ms Dana, everyone has known for weeks. I told Mr Chan personally three months into your sabbatical. I felt he had the right to know. After all, he’d always been so supportive of you Dana, how could you not tell him first?” asked Bella, quite calmly. “Shall I organise for your plants to be moved to Flair or your home? I know a great mover who can do it at once. You know I don’t have green fingers like you.”

And so, it was then, in a fit of tears, that Ritchie, her hairdresser of 15 years, became the first person to learn from the horse’s mouth that Dana Lee of Glossy was now Dana Lee of Flair.