Personal tales and tastes

Fashion director Daniel Boey is one to scream but the audience at the Singapore Writers Festival on Saturday did not hear him roar.

Instead, the style guru, dubbed Singapore's godfather of fashion, cooed, teased and spoke rapid-fire about his drama-filled life at the talk to promote his newly launched autobiography, The Book Of Daniel: Adventures Of A Fashion Insider.

Boey, who turns 50 next year along with the country, told a full house at the festival pavilion on the lawn of the Singapore Management University (SMU) that the book was equally his tribute to Singapore fashion history.

His voice swelled with pride as he waxed lyrical about Singapore being once the hub of fashion in the region, home to luxury emporiums including high-end French department store Galeries Lafayette and supermodels who fronted advertising campaigns for top brands such as Chanel and CoverGirl.

Appropriately, he wore his heart for Singapore talent on his sleeves by dressing for the event in a sharp printed jacket by home-grown label Mr Howard.

The good-looking audience, which included models and Minister of State for Trade and Industry Teo Ser Luck - there is a photograph of him in the book as a model - was also given a glimpse as to why Boey is widely touted as Asia's most-sought after fashion show producer.

With the enjoyment of the audience in mind, the fashion director invited two model proteges, Vivian Ong Patenaude and Sofia Wakabayashi, to share the stage with him mid-way through the session, to offer the audience a view of himself through fresh eyes.

What came to light was that he screams, and, by his own admission, "a lot". But as his guests stressed, if he yells, it is for a reason.

Models who show up late and waste everybody else's time, even if it is two minutes, and make-up artists who do not ensure models look their best can be sure their ears will tingle from his bellows.

It was a different kind of screeching that happened earlier in the day at the talk by American fantasy writer Raymond Feist, who authored the popular fantasy series, The Riftwar Cycle.

The gregarious speaker, who addressed a packed audience in an air-conditioned tent on the SMU lawn, was interrupted by the resonant cawing of birds outside the tent on no fewer than two occasions.

"Really?! You'd think we're in a tropical rainforest or something," he remarked, to laughs from the crowd.

But his audience, made up of fan boys and girls who prefaced their questions during the question-and-answer segment by professing their enduring love for his works, were not distracted. One audience member took up Feist's suggestion at the start of the talk to discuss his 75-bottle whisky collection and asked the author for his current favourite whisky.

He did not answer the question directly but instead made reference to recent news of Suntory's Yamazaki Single Malt Sherry Cask 2013 topping the 2015 World Whisky Bible and said he prefers the Japanese distillery's Hakushu whisky.

Another audience member picked his brains on how he comes up with vivid characters in his books. "You make them do something intentional, something habitual and something gratuitous."

Yet another asked him about the evolution of the fantasy genre. "There is major crush on vampires… But it's no longer the literary, or movie, or television ghetto that it once was."

If there was any screaming that afternoon at the free festival event called Storytelling For Little Ones, at the National Museum of Singapore Children's Wing, it was quickly silenced by the masterful professional storyteller Chua Ai Lin. She held the roomful of more than 20 babies and toddlers under the spell of the German legend of the silver pine cones.

For any adult, however, the sight of the youngest participants of the festival, restless and squealing before the start of the session but still throughout the 30 minutes of storytelling, was perhaps the most enchanting scene.

This article was first published on November 10, 2014.
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