A Glamorous Festival Festival Cocktail Party,
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.