Howdy, y'all. I hope everyone's snuggled up under the covers and enjoying this rainy holiday. I know I am; I'm all ready for my siesta. But first, let's get down to business. If you know me, you'll be well aware that I enjoy cooking. Cleaning the aftermath, not so much. Actually, scratch that first part. I enjoy eating. And we all know the easiest way to get that yummy in your tummy is to cook it yourself. Until McDelivery* makes its way to the UK, that is.
In the over-sharing frenzy known as my snapchat story, every now and then you'll find me turning my kitchen upside down, but thankfully the results merit the mess. "That looks so delicioussssss!" - I won't lie, most of my food does. I wouldn't be eating it otherwise. "You're such a talented cook!" - Ok, hold up. As much as I would love the credit, let's be real. I'm no chef. Far from it. I have the utmost respect for anyone with the technical skill and ability to whip up a mouthwatering croquembouche, but people forget that it is really not difficult to whip up a meal that satisfies your taste buds. It's as easy as learning all the words to Beyoncé's new album**.
In fact, it should be easy to cook. It's a basic skill for survival.
Just to prove my point (because I love it when I'm right), here's a no-fuss recipe that took all of 5 minutes to prepare. You can lay back on the couch for the 10-15 minutes while it cooks in the oven.
Salmon over Garden Greens
- 1 salmon fillet
- ½ packet kale
- 4 to 6 asparagus spears
- olive oil
- teriyaki sauce
- lemon pepper
- white and black sesame seeds
1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Or 360°F.
2. Wash all your veggies. You're not limited kale and asparagus, you can switch them out for broccoli, peas, spinach, whatever your heart desires. Or does not desire, if you don't like your greens. Put your kale into an oven-friendly dish, pour generous amounts of olive oil over and sprinkle some lemon pepper. Add a little regular lemon juice if you fancy. Mix thoroughly. Now pop it into the oven. The kale will shrink when it gets baked, so don't worry if your dish is overflowing slightly.
3. Lay out your asparagus on another tray and drizzle more olive oil over them. Don't pop it into the oven just yet. Make sure there's some space for your salmon on the other side of the tray.
3. Take your salmon and rub it lovingly with a pinch of salt. Lay it down next to your asparagus. Pour a capful of teriyaki sauce over it for a little kick in flavour. If you don't have any, soy sauce, oyster sauce, BBQ sauce, mustard - basically, anything sauce that you like will do. It all depends on your own taste. Most of the time I just have the salted salmon on its own without any sauce. Now pop this tray into the oven as well.
4. Head over to your couch and take a well deserved break. Check up on the salmon after 10 minutes. It should be ready between 10 and 15 minutes. You want a pale pink colour along the side of the fillet.
5. Once you see (and smell) that the salmon is cooked to perfection, take everything out of the oven and plate it. Add more olive oil and lemon pepper over your kale. Sprinkle your sesame seeds over the salmon. Et voila!
6. Give yourself a pat on the back, mate. You just made a tasty meal for yourself, by yourself.
The whole point of this is to show you that you shouldn't be struggling with measurements and ingredients. All you need is a tad bit of common sense to know what flavours go with each other and then just YOLO your way through. The more you cook, the better you'll get with experience. So head into the kitchen guys and show me what you come up with!
* Already drooling at the thought of ordering a McSpicy at 3am when I'm back in Singapore.
**Which is absolutely glorious, and we can't be friends if you haven't had it on repeat for at least three days.
As a very cold April rolls to an end, I'm sitting here amidst textbooks and notepads, accompanied by my friends Doritos and Häagen-Dazs, wondering how did I get here. I've been juggling my academics and professional life for a while now, however the last few months have proved to be especially taxing. Nothing much, y'know... just a new load of freelance writing, a constantly growing list of editorial deadlines, exams looming on the horizon, a vacation planned without foresight and having to deal with the inconvenience of my bank's usual unreliability.
When you spread yourself too thin, time seems to speed up and you're constantly living in a blur. It's a strange, confusing feeling when nothing makes sense yet everything moves forward anyway. By the end of each day I somehow manage to get everything in order, smoothly and systematically, satisfying both clients and lecturers. And my parents. As a good Asian boy, I must not bring dishonour to my cow.
What about my satisfaction? What makes all this toil and trouble so appealing to me? The answer lies in that moment a stranger shares an article I wrote and says it was a good read. When an image I conceptualised, styled and shot gets published in Elle. When a client excitedly texts me at 3am to say the campaign I worked on was roping in results. When my quirky advertising professor hands me a bottle of Prosecco and a box of chocolates for having the best project of the year. It's these brief moments that bring the most gratification to my preoccupied soul. It's these brief moments after which I can say to myself that it was all worth it. It's just enough to light a little fire beneath my feet to keep me running like a headless chicken. Sometimes I wonder if I'm living in an upside-down universe, in a looking glass house.
Speaking of wonderland, the wonky literature of Lewis Carroll served as inspiration behind these photos, mirroring the franticness of my life (see what I did there?). And as much as I'd like you to believe that I fell through a rabbit hole in these photos, they were shot at the Glass Labyrinth in the Olympic Village - an installation of mirror-polished steel planks by Jeppe Hein.
CHANEL prêt-à-porter automne-hiver 2016-2017
You know you had a good time travelling when more than a month later you're still suffering from withdrawal symptoms, even though it was a work trip rather than a vacation. There were many little things that made my time at Paris Fashion Week so magical - the snowfall, the food, the company, the showrooms. But most of all, the shows. Ah, the beautiful shows. And Monsieur Lagerfeld, as always, lived up to expectations of a great show. One might think that it was a simple set, unlike the usual fanfare at Chanel... but let me tell you, to give all the guests a front row experience is by no means a small feat. To put it into perspective, the models took about 8 minutes to make it through the maze-like runway.
And speaking of models, I'm going to be blatant and tell you I was drooling over these gorgeous girls most of the time, instead of the equally stunning clothes. I'm sorry, but that's what you get when you put all of my favourite models in one show. You end up with a very star-strucked Faiyaz. Between them, Snapchat, Instagram, Boomerang and my camera, I was pretty dazed by the end of the show. Here's a little visual recollection of those fabulous moments front row at Chanel. You can read the rest of my thoughts on the actual collection here. Carry on, kids. I'm just going to be right here, transfixed on the perfection that is known as Gigi Hadid.
A little transeasonal layering as we enter spring. It's a magical time - under the sun it's warm and behind shadows it's cool. The rain is sporadic, letting up now and again for a few moments of gold to shine. If you're lucky you might even spot a rainbow. These photos were shot spontaneously while scouting for future shoot locations, so this outfit really is an authentic representation of an ordinary day out. The warm colours of sunset looked so poetic against the cool hues of my outfit that a poem by Pablo Neruda came to mind as I was editing this. Without any more blabbering on my part, I leave you to these pictures and some poetry.
En su llama mortal la luz te envuelve.
Absorta, pálida doliente, así situada
contra las viejas hélices del crepúsculo
que en torno a ti da vueltas.
Muda, mi amiga,
sola en lo solitario de esta hora de muertes
y llena de las vidas del fuego,
pura heredera del día destruido.
Del sol cae un racimo en tu vestido oscuro.
De la noche las grandes raíces
crecen de súbito desde tu alma,
y a lo exterior regresan las cosas en ti ocultas,
de modo que un pueblo pálido y azul
de ti recién nacido se alimenta.
Oh grandiosa y fecunda y magnética esclava
del círculo que en negro y dorado sucede:
erguida, trata y logra una creación tan viva
que sucumben sus flores, y llena es de tristeza.
The light wraps you in its mortal flame.
Abstracted pale mourner, standing that way
against the old propellers of the twilight
that revolves around you.
Speechless, my friend,
alone in the loneliness of this hour of the dead
and filled with the lives of fire,
pure heir of the ruined day.
A bough of fruit falls from the sun on your dark garment.
The great roots of night
grow suddenly from your soul,
and the things that hide in you come out again
so that a blue and palled people
your newly born, takes nourishment.
Oh magnificent and fecund and magnetic slave
of the circle that moves in turn through black and gold:
rise, lead and possess a creation
so rich in life that its flowers perish and it is full of sadness.
Poetry by Pablo Neruda,
from Poemas de Amor y Una Cancion Desesperada.
Wearing: Zara - Suede jacket, jeans // Gap - Cashmere turtleneck sweater // Loewe - Anton bag // Bottega Veneta - Intrecciato suede sneakers // PYAR - Essential rings
I'm a little late on this, but I'm so excited to be (finally) sharing this editorial I shot for our friends over at Estela. Aptly covering the Muse Issue is my own muse - Chawntell. We somehow met in a mad rush of people during London Fashion Week last year and I was a little starstruck. Super gorgeous and super smart with a super personality, I thought she was already a supermodel and for some strange reason I hadn't heard of her before. How this girl doesn't have a million dollar contract with a top modeling agency baffles me. Completely.
On a cold Tuesday morning, I explained my back story for this editorial to the rest of the team and everyone got it immediately. Five hours passed in what felt like five minutes and I didn't want to put my camera down, despite the lack of sunlight and exhausting every piece of clothing, accessory
accessory and prop. It was pure bliss. Despite the copious amounts of positive energy and Beyoncé beats on set, we dug deep into our souls to create a narrative with a darker undertone.
Growing up, my interest was always piqued by powerful, badass characters - particularly women. It's no surprise that Charmed was (and still is) my favourite show ever. As I got older, I noticed these women were no longer restricted to the television screen and they traversed into real life as well. They all fit a certain profile - they were fragile. Not physically, but mentally and emotionally. In fiction, some of my top picks include Jane/the Wife (The Yellow Wallpaper), Blanche DuBois (A Streetcar Named Desire) and Nina Sayers (Black Swan).
IRL In non-fiction, we have the likes of Britney, bitch. Need I say more?
Now I've come to understand that these personalities highlighted our vulnerabilities as a species - the dark side of human nature where our own mind could turn on us. That's what intrigues me and I think it's a topic that should be discussed in the line of creative work, more openly, more often. Especially considering the fact that creativity is even believed to be a catalyst for depression.
Deepika Padukone recently spoke up publicly in an attempt to shed light on this matter, after which I was further inspired to explore the idea of duality between internal realities and external perceptions from an editorial perspective. As much as I love story time, I'll refrain from going into detail and let the photos speak for themselves. In the meantime, I'll go back to being flabbergasted as to why Chawntell isn't #1 on Models.com.