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.