Behind the Scenes: Singapore Tatler May 2017

Close Up

May 16, 2017 | BY Hong Xinyi

A cover shoot featuring lots of mirrors inspires some interesting reflections.

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Photographer Darren Gabriel Leow (left) has his back turned to Talenia Phua Gajardo because he’s shooting her reflection in the mirror

There’s always something enchanting about mirrors. The first mirrors were believed to have been made from ground and polished volcanic glass around 8,000 years ago. Since that fateful moment, they’ve claimed their place in literature. Snow White’s stepmother tried to glean who was the fairest of them all from her magic mirror; Alice followed up her adventures in Wonderland by stepping through a looking glass; and Harry Potter gazed into the Mirror of Erised to find his heart’s deepest desire. 

(Related: Editor's Note: The May 2017 Issue - Talenia Phua Gajardo)

For our very first Tech issue, we wanted to convey cover star Talenia Phua Gajardo’s forward-looking vision for e-commerce in the luxury segment. We came up with the idea of portraying futuristic flair with—you guessed it—some enchanting mirrors, using glossy reflections and abstract lines to create striking images. 

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Florals take on a new sheen in the bejewelled Forget Me Not earrings and Sunflower ring by Harry Winston

The Singapore Tatler team was jazzed by the idea, until we got a WhatsApp message from contributing fashion director Desmond Lim the day before the shoot: “Hey guys, I’m buying the full-length mirrors. They are about $200, k.” For a brief moment, we thought he’d really found magic mirrors worth hundreds of thousands of dollars! But of course, it was just an abbreviation that looked at first glance like an astonishing price tag, and it gave us all a good laugh. 

Then again, maybe there really was something enchanting about the mirrors at the shoot. Talenia, whose e-commerce start-up The Artling showcases the work of contemporary Asian artists, had just returned from a trip to Art Basel Hong Kong. While she was brimming with enthusiasm about the great talent she encountered at the art show—the recent Singapore Biennale was fantastic as well, she added—she was also battling a cold and fever from all that travelling and an intense workload. 

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Talenia checks out an earlier shot as the team sets up for the last picture of the day  

Despite that, she handled the shoot like a trooper, and was open to trying out looks that pushed the boundaries of her usual style preferences, as she usually favours sharp, neutral‑toned suits. Most magically of all, despite the multiple reflections involved in a shoot with so many mirrors, she looked fresh from every angle, with no trace of being under the weather at all—a testament not just to the skills of the creative team, but also the sniffles-resisting power of photogenic features. Now that’s some real magic.