Category Archives: Fashion

Producer’s notes


The Ritz-Carlton Banquet Hall

When I first started as a writer for HELLO! magazine back in 2011, it did not occur to me just how much of my job involved attending events practically every week. My days were a blur of putting pages in the office, writing my features in the middle of the night at home, and running from one brand or product launch to the next. Within my first six months, I had learned the basic logistics of planning a launch event, complete with fashion show.

As the years went by and the events and fashion shows became bigger and more ambitious, I realized that there was so much more to planning such events than just getting the audio, lighting and outfits together. There was the ambience to think about, wrangling the models, and figuring out the seating arrangement — the last of which is probably the biggest nightmare of all.

So when Cho asked me back in March to help her produce her June 11 bridal fashion show for PU3, I had my reservations, thrown in and mixed in somewhere with my excitement. I had never really produced a full-scale fashion show on my own before, and a small part of me was terrified that I wouldn’t be able to pull it off. Also, I was fully aware of what a single-mindedly demanding person Cho can be, despite her laidback exterior, and the pressures of putting on a show which her entire family would descend en masse to witness.


But pull it off I did, and definitely not before I came away with some things to remember:

Fashion shows are like political arenas, if not worse. When I was working for HELLO! and had to work on featuring personalities and celebrities — two terms which I use very loosely because there is no such thing as a real celebrity in this country — the one question I avoided like the plague was “Will I be on the cover?” In fashion, the question to avoid at all costs, on pain of death, is “Will I be in the front row?” Malaysians have an astoundingly false sense of entitlement that plants in their heads that they somehow deserve to be in the front row of a fashion show. And to both questions, I’ve learned to give the ultimate in noncommittal and diplomatic responses: “I’ll see what I can do.”

Someone has to be the bad cop. Putting together a fashion show is literally akin to putting together a circus. There are many different acts to be put together to form one seamless production, and more often than not, at least one of said acts will somehow drag everything down. And when one act threatens the efficiency of the entire production, someone needs to be the circus wrangler, put aside all personal relationships and address the issue head on before the malcontent festers. In this case, I had to write in our WhatsApp group conversation that unless people got hit by a bus, there was no reason for anyone to be an hour and a half late.

Wrangling the circus

Wrangling the circus giraffes

Creativity vs practicality. While it is perfectly understandable, even expected, for fashion designers to have very strong ideas about what they want and what they think they should have in their shows, it is also of some help if they recognized that not all of it may be feasible. In a city as limited and an economy as throttled as ours, it would be completely irresponsible to not be realistic about certain things or manage one’s own expectations, because when said expectations are not met, it only makes everyone involved feel, if not look, extremely foolish. The good thing about working with Cho was that she got to be the creative half of this production brain, while I exercised every shred of common sense I possessed into talking her down.

A support system is vital. In every endeavor I’ve taken on ever since I left my last job and started working on my own, I was fortunate to have the one constant that kept me sane and grounded and from wanting to wring a few necks: Dani. No doubt the man has received more than his fair share of grumbling and whining from me about all the projects I’ve worked on and all the people I’ve had to endure, but he has always managed to be the voice of reason — with a working printer and an impressive network of people whom he somehow manages to strongarm into giving him whatever he wants.

My biggest supporter

My biggest supporter

Front row ain’t got nothing on the producer’s chair. This depends on which view you actually like. Over the years, designers have been kind enough to give me a seat in the front row of their shows, and it’s an experience that never gets old. To see someone’s hard work and passion stomp past you in more than one direction (usually) leaves you in quiet awe because you realize that some people really can be talented. But to see someone’s hard work and passion surrounded by and infused with your own hard work and passion, and knowing everything that you went through to get to that moment, leaves you in something far beyond awe: gratitude. Gratitude because you were given this opportunity to be a part of something so significant in someone else’s life, gratitude because you were given what it took to see it through to the end, and gratitude because there were people around you to help you along the way.

Charlotte Casiraghi for Gucci

Charlotte Casiraghi, the daughter of Caroline, Hereditary Princess of Monaco, has been chosen as the new face of Gucci. This isn’t entirely surprising, given that she has been the brand’s equestrian ‘ambassador’ for at least the last couple of years now, and has had Frida Giannini design all her equestrian outfits specially for her and kept jealously out of public retail space.

I’ve become a big fan of Charlotte’s over the last few years. Besides the obvious fact that she is the granddaughter of the late Grace Kelly, who was also one of my icons, there is something about her immensely cool, almost indifferent, demeanor that I find incredibly appealing. She has managed to retain some semblance of a normal life by being as low-profile as her family and status allow her to be, and her often unsmiling face goes remarkably well with her effortlessly chic style.

With the release of the first shots of her Gucci campaign, it seems as though it has been a long time since Gucci found anyone truly fitting as an ambassador — lifestyle-wise, in any case. Natasha Poly served her purpose relatively well as the fashion spokesperson for the brand, but Charlotte somehow puts the human element into it. Hopefully this is going to be a long-term — or at least longer than the initially agreed-upon two years — partnership.

Meanwhile, let’s just all take a moment to gawk.

A hot, kitschy, kooky mess

I’ve always been on the fence with my feelings about Agyness Deyn. Her almost-symmetrical face has earned her great envy amongst the model wannabes, but her peroxide-blond pixie haircut has sparked an enormous following which has, for the most part, been a complete and utter failure, and her personal edgy style has also set off a trend which has thus far only worked on Agyness Deyn herself. But it appears that the one thing about her of which I have an absolute and unswerving opinion is her house.

Getting a sneak peek inside a high profile person’s home normally leaves one feeling mixed emotions of jealousy that you don’t live there and inspiration to transform their own humble abode. We marvel at their impeccable taste and all the things that they (or their interior designer) have selected from obscure flea markets in exotic locales and high-end furniture stores. However, Agyness’s apartment – recently listed on the market for $2.5 million – in the hipster neighborhood of Williamsburg in Brooklyn, New York, has left many clutching at straws over whether to love it or hate it.

I, for one, love it. And I may be the only one.

Restraint has never really been Agyness’s thing, so it’s only logical that her natural habitat is a bit bizarre. The Under the Sea-themed bedroom with conch shell chairs and a coral-and-seaweed wall mural, a Salvador Dali-inspired bedroom with sleigh bed and gilded mirrors, and a bathroom with a brown marble bath tub, lion’s head tap and mirrored tiles. And even though each of the items, on their own, would make her appear as a klepto who had somehow managed to burgle the Museo del Prado and scour the vintage stores in Greenwich Village all at the same time, they actually work when all thrown together. The main living area is proof of this, with a floral wallpaper, leopard-print carpet, enough chintz and flea market ecclectica to make you dizzy, hessian drapes and a hot air balloon chandelier.

Certain elements of Deyn’s apartment make it feel like it could belong to a cigar-smoking, balding and slightly rotund man with gold chains rather than a girl who looks like… well, her. But I take my hat off to her, going on the same principle by which I took my hat off to Kate Moss for her wedding dress. So ugly, it’s pretty; so grotesque, it’s chic; so good for a party but not for a hangover.

That said, I would probably spend the whole time panicking that I might knock over what I think is an ashtray, only to be told that it was a knee-guard from the armor of a Ming Dynasty soldier and will cost $16 million to replace.