25 August 2012


Stav Strashko, the 19-year-old male model born in the Ukraine and raised in Israel, is making news for the Toyota commercial that sees him stripping to his underwear.

Ms Strashko is knocking the tiara off reigning androgyne Andrej Pejic's head. 
Oh, vapours, pass the smelling salts please! It's too much, isn't it? 
The visual equivalent of smelling salts below:

23 August 2012


Had Dana Lee heard Eli’s side of the story in person, had she seen with her eyes his true distress, and observed his dismay, her emotion couldn’t have been greater than it was from just reading his letter. Back at home, in the privacy of her bedroom, at home, before her writing desk, Dana Lee took out Eli’s letter from her Chanel purse to study for the fifth time. She still couldn’t quite believe how one handwritten letter, two sheets of mere paper (blue), scribbled untidily, could change her life.
This is what Eli wrote:
“I’m sorry Dana, I’m very, very sorry. It was very foolish and stupid of me, to be so manipulated by Bella. I see how this must be hurting you. When I recall the look of pain that night of the ball, it hurts me too. Deeply. I’m not making excuses, but let me explain my actions and maybe it will go a little way in making you feel better. This is what happened that day: Bella insisted on flying me back from Manila, just for The Ice Ball. I tried my best to reason with her about my work and everything, but she played the pity card. She said it would be damaging to her reputation and her career not to have a suitable date on so important an occasion, and that I probably won’t take her because she was nobody but a driver’s daughter.
Bella knows just how to punch my pity buttons. She has practiced for 20 years! Tired as I was, I agreed finally. But I insisted that I would have to fly back to Manila immediately after the ball. My album is the most important thing to me right now. For the first time in my life, I have some personal achievement, a serious career goal to work towards, and I wasn’t about to let my schedule be messed up just because she needed a date for a party. Please forgive me for the hurt I have caused you. I can only say that it stems from my ignorance, and my sad lack of confidence.
My older brother never gave me an active role in my family’s business, and I didn’t have any real ambition in that area any way. All my life, I’d nothing serious to engage my time, nothing to take me away from Bella; And surely she wouldn’t have thought herself attached to me had I been more distant to her, but we were close. I can’t deny that. Being my mother’s favourite, I never had much to do, and not much to occupy my time, except my music. I was indulged as the youngest son, and was allowed whatever I liked, which meant that I was at home a lot and saw Bella more than I saw anyone.
“But you see, Bella is like a sister to me. I’m certainly not in love with Bella, nor ever been, not even slightly. She was brought up, when her mother died in our family’s service, like the little girl that my mother had wanted after giving birth to us two boys. It was always joked that Bella would marry one of us brothers so that she would become a ‘daughter’ of the family – but I don’t think anyone ever took this very seriously – except, evidently, Bella herself. It’s probably cruel to say such things to children, even in jest, to raise any vain hope, but that’s all there was to it.
“Her mother was our nanny, her dad our family chauffeur, and she’s my childhood friend. That’s all her relationship is to me.
“I don’t have many friends, and my brother is too busy for me. I’m shy, so it was natural for me to be close to Bella. She and I spent our teens together, until she went to work at Glossy, for you. She always appeared nice, and she was always smart, smarter than me. Considering everything, I hope, unforgivable as my behaviour has been in every way, you can understand where I’m coming from. Please wait for me until I return from Bangkok next week; The last leg of my tour will end there, and then I will see you, and I will explain everything else to your satisfaction.
“I love you. Eli.”
The change in mood which this letter wrought in the mind and heart of Dana Lee was so great that it promised yet another sleepless night. And after Dana happily told her mother the contents of Eli’s letter, Mrs Tina Lee, went to bed with a box of candied ginger. She got more and more comfortable with visions of Eli Kee as a new member of her family, someone new to fuss over and gossip about. 

16 August 2012


A restless night spent tossing and turning determined her resolve: Dana Lee decided that she had to go back to work, and at the next possible opportunity, refuse Adam Tan as certainly as cannot be mistaken. She had also decided that she would not be returning to Adam Tan’s Sentosa Cove refuge after last night’s little situation with the self-made multi-millionaire. She will not be pressurised that way, or any other way, and she was certain, because she knew Adam so well, that his next move would involve an important piece of jewellery. This will not do; Scenes were to be avoided at all costs. Well, at least the scene last night had galvanised Dana back to life - fleeing and escape is not something to be indulged in too often.
You’d think in this age of all things digital that Dana Lee’s accumulated mail would be somewhat less of a pile – but no. Back in her office, bills and bank statements in official, windowed envelopes; stacks of press releases in all their designer stiffness; Thick catalogues in heavy stock and invites in fancy lettering swelled her week’s mail to two cardboard cartons full, sorted into rubber-banded bundles by her loyal, if flighty, assistant Queenie. This was not to mention the pages and pages of e-mail, of course.
Everything, in short, but a word from Eli. 
Mary Cassatt
Dana Lee, anxious to escape her emotional turmoil, delved into the boxes of mail with something akin to gusto, scissors and silver envelope knife to the ready. What caught her eye at once was a square cream letter, addressed to her in handwriting – Eli’s handwriting. Dana Lee’s heart almost leapt from her composed Armani jacket at the recognition, and she took it up at once, and shutting the glass door of her minimalist office for more privacy, she opened the letter.  

15 August 2012


Chapter 16
In the slate patio of the villa, with the darkness of the jungle enclosing them in a glow of lantern light, Dana and Adam sit by the pool. Adam Tan had come to look in on Dana to see if she needed anything. He brought more champagne and Dana took out the Lalique crystal flutes she discovered the pantry. “Come, come,” said Adam. “You must not mope. You must preserve your looks and spirit – you are the queen of fashion, aren’t you? We can’t have you looking so droopy and sad – tell me how I can cheer you up. Some bubbly?”
Adam had said this in such a tone as to leave Dana in no doubt of what was on his mind. She immediately sensed that it would be wisest to get it over as soon and as quietly as possible.
“Listen to me, Dana,” continued Adam, “your reticence, and disappointment over Eli, actually adds to your perfection. Your little thing over that young man doesn’t affect how I feel about you, I certainly expect you to have had your romances. I’ve had my share. And your unwillingness now is understandable. Let me remind you that your beloved mother will certainly approve of my intentions, intentions too marked to be mistaken, even by Mrs Lee. Almost as soon we met six years ago, I had singled you out as the companion of my future life.
“My reasons for wanting to settle down are, first, that I think it right for any man in my success to set an example in society. I've always led by example. Secondly, I’m convinced you will add greatly to my happiness. I assure you there are many young women available to me. But no one that can compare to you. When we are married…”
Dana almost jumped off the canvas sofa at the word 'married', and felt it absolutely necessary to interrupt Adam before he went any further. The whole thing was coming off like a presentation, and had Adam Pang had a laser pointer, he would no doubt be using it.
"You’re rushing ahead of the plot, Adam!" Dana said. "You forget that I have made no indication as to my feelings. Accept my grateful thanks for the great compliment you are paying me. I’m truly honoured by your feelings and intentions, but things really are confused for me, and at the moment I…”
"I won’t be discouraged by what you say, Dana. I can make you very happy, and I'm convinced that I'm man for you,” answered Adam, stubbornly patient.
“Adam, I need time. I need the space to think of what I want. Please believe what I’m saying. I wish you to be very happy, and by telling you my true feelings..." And rising as she spoke, Dana would have bolted the patio, had not Adam quickly said: “Alright. Calm down. As long as it isn't a flat 'no'. When I speak to you next on this subject, I hope to receive a more positive response than you have given me tonight. I’m not unworthy of your acceptance: my circumstances are more than many men can offer you. My comfortable life, my connections, and my properties, are everything you can expect, and more.”
“Thank you once again for the honour, it's flattering and my ego certainly in needs a boost, Adam. But to accept your proposal now would be an insult to you. I'm truly confused. Please understand that I’m speaking from my heart.”
Adam immediately, and in silence, left the villa, not quite in a huff but not calmly either, and Dana felt more alone than ever in that empty vast space.
The champagne was untouched.

14 August 2012


Chapter 15

Not for the first time that year did Dana Lee find herself in fleeing, packed away at Adam Pang’s Sentosa Cove hideaway. It struck Dana, even in her misery, that the vacant villa had the vibe of a high security prison. On one side was the South China Sea, now grey-green now white-blue, ceaselessly ebbing and flooding; on the other, was a glade of trees, in a dark tropical tangle, full of the sound of unseen birds and insects and things crashing through the leaves at night; a curving drive led from the tall security gates to the main door with its digital lock. “I could be the mistress of all this, and leave the fashion and publishing world behind...,” thought Dana, as she walked along the edge of the garden by the water, at sunset. In the distance, peacocks screamed. “Will I miss it? The artificial glitter of it all? The competition every which way I turn, the uncertainty, the stress? Probably not. If I had the time on my hands, I would really be able to spend all my time gardening, which I truly love, and reading all the books I’ve been wanting to read. Marriage will be like house arrest, but it would also mean a certain kind of freedom – and Adam, dear loyal Adam, he will be my warden…” 
All this might have been and the story must end here, except, of course, that Eli Kee was someone that Dana Lee had belatedly discovered she loved. The very peacocks seemed to be screaming her emotions out to the universe, and Dana had finally to admit to the powerful emotion. Her immense pain at the thought that Eli was claimed by someone else brought her feelings clearly before her, the intensity of which had never occurred to her before, not in the giddy, romantic phase of their flirtation. But was Eli Kee a figment of her imagination? Was he even the person that Dana loved, because so much was yet hidden and unexplained in his behaviour? That Eli Kee could have concealed from her all the details of his relationship to Bella Teo seemed incongruent with his profession of openness and warmth. And that he was in fact an heir to a sugar and tinned fruit fortune, and wasn’t the starving artist-prince of the ragged jeans and soulful songs, was a big shock to Dana. “He’s a completely different man from the sweet boy who picks me up in the broken down panel van. No wonder there was always an air of the kid in him; he’s born to privilege after all, wrapped securely in the bubble wrap of wealth,” reflected poor, heartbroken Dana Lee. "And I can't call him a sweet boy any more - it would sound like the most dreadful pun!"
“How could I have been so foolish, mother?” wailed Dana over the phone. The dismal thought instantly occurred to her: "It's inherited."
“You were always a dreamy, romantic thing, not, unlike me, always the best judge of character,” replied Mrs Tina Lee, from her chintz sofa. “Stay in bed, my dear, and turn on the security alarm. It must be terrible for you to hear this matter talked about; and as for myself, I won’t mention a word about it to anyone. I did not mention a thing all dinner last night. Except to Uncle John, and his two banking daughters. But they are all very thoughtful, discreet and considerate; especially since I gave them a hint, as to who Eli is! They had such a jolly time of it and all through coffee, you know, nudged and poked about how sweet the cakes were and was it tinned fruit they saw on the custard? Uncle John was quite beside himself with the jollity of the brown sugar cubes and said he never tasted such sweet coffee as in our house! But they were most discreet and never mentioned the Kee word! I do think the less said about such things, the better, the sooner blown over and forgot. And what does talking ever do, you know?”
“Mother you didn’t say anything to Uncle John and his two banking daughters! How could you, mother?” cried Dana.
But Mrs Tina Lee could, and did. 

11 August 2012


Chapter 14: Phone Calls, Various

Queenie, Editorial Assistant, Flair, in a the fashion closet, sorting out shoes:

“And then Ms Dana didn’t say a word, turned, and all but ran out of the ballroom as if chased by a bear. Both Eli Kee and Adam Tan started to go after her. But it was sooo crowded you know, and I heard Bella the Bitch saying “come back here, Eli Kee!” 
And I said, “Take Ms Dana home, Mr Tan, please.” And he actually did what I said – I think I’m in love with Adam Tan now. I wanted to talk to Eli, I wanted to ask him, I had to see what’s happening - something dreadful between them. But Bella the Bitch stopped me, and pulled Eli away and do you know I nearly fainted? Not from the heat, but from the shock of seeing Eli drive Belle away from The Ice Ball in a 1950s Daimler Phaeton in Edinburgh Green. Imagine that! Ms Dana’s favourite green!”

Mrs Tina Lee, Ex Beauty Queen, from her sofa:
“She came back in one of her moods, you know, looking dreadfully white, and unable to stand, sunk into her bed without taking that mint green gown off; I was expecting every moment to see her faint, and asked her “why that face young lady? Is the gown too tight?” at which my dear girl burst into tears, and did you know while reviving her with some organic lavender water, I had to tell her to stop her hystrionics or I would get nightmares? Yes, Dr Chiong had prescribed me utter peace and tranquility after 8pm. I was not to ever even watch the news. “No, my dearest Dana darling,” said I, “your tears and explanations must wait only till tomorrow. Would you like some hot milk?"
Ritchie, Top Hairstylist, from a café table, dark glasses on:
“Oh y-y-yes I heard about the debacle, and I called Bella Teo the B-B-Bitch and said “w-w-what is the meaning of this?” And she laughed with d-d-delight and said that Eli Kee looked splendid in a t-t-tuxdo and was such a hit with the g-g-girls and I said “did you rent the c-c-car too?” and b-b-bitch said the car belonged to Eli Kee’s family, and rang off! Yes, Dana always said that Eli was a starving artist, and what s-s-starving artist drives a vintage Daimler Phaeton unless he’s the c-c-chauffeur? Impossible! So I made a f-f-few calls and it turns out that our Eli Kee is hardly starving; He’s the youngest s-s-son of the Kee Sugar Cane family! I swear to g-g-god I’m not making this up! Sugar. Cane. Plantation. Candy. Syrup. Tinned p-p-pineapple. Tinned bloody r-r-rambutan. No wonder Eli could afford to p-p-play the starving artist! He’s from the very o-o-oldest old rich with m-m-money coming out of their ears like sugar from the s-s-shaker, my dear.”

Snowdrops, President of the Eliments Fan Club, from her room, with the computer on.
“Our idol really, truly is from the Kee Sugar Family, and filthy rich. Got another older brother but divided by two the money still a lot. No, the brother not a singer, he eldest so have to run the business. I found out from my friend who knows a friend whose mother actually works in the family home – yes, imagine the sort of info that auntie can get for the website, can also take picture of his toilet – that the girl that he’s dating – yes, he’s seeing some girl – but my source, the auntie, says that it’s truly not confirmed if they really, really dating. Because they have known each other since they were in pampers and this girl Bella Teo, not the older girl I saw Eli with in The French Place, no it’s this Bella girl, who is actually the daughter of another family servant. She’s the daughter of Eli’s nanny, who passed away when she was only six and so the Kee family sort of adopted her and brought her up, and she lives with the family still, so they may get married because the Kee family already treat her sort of like family what.”

04 August 2012


Dana Lee resplendent in the Grand Ballroom, at The Heritage Hotel, 9pm.
Dana Lee took Adam Tan’s arm and they arrived in due time at The Ice Ball, dressed to the nines. The regal pair ascended the sweeping marble stairs (1910) and entered a room splendidly lit up by huge crystal chandeliers (Viennese), pressed full of the best (very few) and worst dressed (overwhelming majority) in society. Toes and trains were trodden upon, as was the custom. Many assumed that Dana and Adam were a couple – so compatible did they look, and in some minds, they were destined for each other. They certainly did go out in public together often enough.

The ballroom was insufferably hot, despite the “ice” theme, and the heat caused the ladies’ makeup to melt, so that they looked like characters from a Tim Burton movie. When they had paid their tribute of politeness to various dignitaries (His Excellency, the Swedish Ambassador was gracing the ball) in the VIP area, Dana Lee and Adam Tan went their separate ways to network in the crowd, and take their share of the heat and inconvenience, to which their arrival must necessarily added. Dana, with a flute of Dom Perignon (1995) turning quickly warm in her hands, had not remained circulating long, before she spotted Bella Teo, standing in the middle of the room, in earnest conversation with a model-tall, elegantly-clad and very fashionable-looking young man whose back faced the Dana. Bella caught her eye, and Dana nodded slightly in acknowledgement, but without attempting to speak. She have had enough of Bella over the many days of fashion shows, and had run completely out of politeness and patience. And for once, Bella Teo also failed to assail Dana, but continued what appeared to be an intense conversation with the young man, whose back faced the room, surrounded by a knot of trendy young things. "Bella," Dana thought, "looks like a mongoose hypnotising a young cobra!"

Suddenly, Queenie spotted Dana and swished swiftly up to her, his whole countenance glowing with delight and excitement. Dana said to him: “Queenie! Please get a hold of yourself! People will think you’ve never been to a ball. They’ll find out that I sneaked you in with Emma’s invite.” But Queenie clutched at Dana’s arm, almost panting with excitement, and gasped, "My goodness! He’s there - he looks so hansome - Oh! Why doesn’t he turn around and look at us? Why can’t we speak to him? Why won’t he leave Bella Teo’s side? Don’t you see him, Ms Dana?" cried Queenie impatiently, and would have moved towards Bella's black-clad male instantly, had not Dana caught hold of him.

Who was the mystery man that got Queenie all excited? Finally, the young man turned round, for Queenie had caused quite a little commotion. Queenie made such a fluster that everyone noticed, and the young man saw them both. Dana Lee turned cold, all of a sudden, and saying his name in a whisper, held tightly on to Queenie, to stop him from dashing forward. The model-tall man, wearing an elegant glossy-black tuxedo, and talking only to Bella Teo with his back to the room, was none other than Eli Kee.