On 22nd September, I visited Diana at the home she shares with her family in Opera Estate. She has always been telling us about her mother’s obsession with roses, country/shabby chic themed homewares and decor and I finally saw it for myself. She is right! She lives in the Royal Albert Fine China Headquarters of Singapore. Everything is so pretty! Her mother is as Diana described “the hostest with the mostest”. I am going to go back to her house and learn to cook some Malay dishes from her – OMG, the roti kirai/jala and curry is SOOOO GOOD! As much as she reveres her parents (she’s a self-professed Daddy’s Girl) and considers them “Alpha-people” (these are her own words), I think she sells herself short. She’s a pretty interesting story and definitely not your average woman.
Let’s begin with her princessy name Dewi Diana (which I pronounce Dew-y Dee-ah-nah). Diana is the youngest of her “blended family” (again her own words) of 5 children. Being the youngest, she’s closest to her parents. Her father was a former Minister who stepped down from politics when she was quite young, so she had the privilege of having lots of Daddy’s time growing up. She counts going to the Zoo with her father, watching films, writing/discussing horror stories and old Malay kampung myths as some of her favourite things to do with him. In fact, he’s such an influence in her life that her Uni thesis was on horror stories and both she and her father were once journalists with The Straits Times. I am envious. Asian parents of that generation seldom have that much time with their children or are that affectionate. Fathers, especially.
At the same time, whilst Diana’s mother has an obsession with turning their home into a country cottage with fine bone china, she herself is a collector. Her room is amazingly filled with things that displays her own personality. She has a spilling 4-door wardrobe with additional clothes hanging behind the door, on the wall behind the door, as well as neatly folded in a tall bookcase! She has a lot of bags, DVDs and skincare products as well! She has great skin and a beauty rosy complexion – perhaps part skincare, and part genetics (she’s ethnically half Malay and half Chinese, though culturally Malay-Muslim). I am genuinely puzzled about something though – for someone who obviously loves dressing up and has so many things in her room (including a mini crystal chandelier), there’s a dearth of accessories amongst her possessions! This, I’ve offered to remedy by giving her some of the stuff I have (which I still love but sadly have to let go of).
Take a look at these pictures and enjoy!
- What is your dress/shoe size?
I’m a generously-cut cookie so I shuttle between sizes 14 to 20 for clothes, depending on the style and material. And size 9 or 40/41 for shoes.
- Describe Your Style
I’d like to think edgy, cool and badass but nup, I’m no Lisbeth Salander (although I still dream of growing up to be her some day, Taser-ing the balls off the Scandi underworld and everything). I’ve never really given it much thought but I did realise some time ago that I had somehow fallen into the colourful, girlish way… which is the complete opposite of badass!I’m drawn to colours and patterns so I’ve got heaps of printed tops, skirts and dresses. I recommend having fun with your clothes and exploring colours and patterns because they can really add dimension to your outfit and make it more interesting. Sure black is slimming but what’s more important, I think, is a flattering outfit that fits well. So this means doing due diligence and trying them on and examining as many details as you can to familiarise yourself with your body shape. This will help you figure out what flatters you. Do everything in that fitting room! Stand up straight, turn sideways, bend down, pretend-walk, pretend-sit and squat to see how your body moves in the piece.
- What do you normally wear to work or a work event/meeting?
I’ve always worked in the creative industries so I’ve never really had to suit up or go fully corporate. I’m with Esplanade now and before this, I was a writer and journalist so if I want to go to work in a skull-print tank top, light wash skinnies and aquamarine hi-top sneakers, I can. And I have! I guess it really depends on my mood but because I have a penchant for dresses, they’ve become my default outfit on many occasions. I’ve even gone target shooting in a dress and a pair of Doc Mart boots! If I have to attend an important meeting or go to an event with VIPs, I’ll put on something a little more sober looking but still with a dash of colour or pattern. Monochrome outfits make me sad.
- Where and how do you shop?
IMPULSIVELY! Try it, like it, buy it. With very little thought in between as to whether or not my paycheck can cover the splurge. Oops. That’s not quite what you’re asking right? Hee. I browse with an open mind so I trawl through malls, check out random shops along the street, sometimes head to flea markets and of course there’s online shopping! The interwebs is a scary, dangerous place for one’s wallet.
- What are your favourite things to buy?
Dresses, DVDs and skincare products. I’m a girlish cinephile who likes to feel and smell good.
- What are your favourite brands or shops?
I gravitate toward UK brands like Dorothy Perkins, Topshop, Miss Selfridge and sometimes Forever 21. I think their stuff’s pretty, funky and plus-size-friendly. For shoes, I go to Aldo, Steve Madden, Melissa, Charles and Keith, Mitju and the odd Rubi. I’m sad that we don’t have River Island here anymore. I love their clothes and shoes and went a little nutty when I chanced upon a couple of stores on my UK trip last year.I also love going to my friend Lovie’s shop Dulcetfig in Haji Lane. She has gorgeous vintage pieces and colourful, pretty and funky accessories. I don’t buy many accessories but I like to ogle at them. And she has adorable, fat CATS that welcome you when you walk into the shop. Too cute! Other haunts include Lush and TANGS because I can never have too many skincare products; and Amazon, Gramophone, HMV and Laser Flair where I hunt down films I love and rare titles to add to my DVD collection. I’d really love to go to New York City one day and shop at Kim’s Video and Music in East Village. Think I’ll spend hours there and leave a few hundred bucks poorer!
- How do you dress on your blah-days?
On blah-days, I want to be comfortable and I’d probably feel fashion-cranky so you’ll see my tee-shirt/skinnies or tights/tunics combos. And dirty sneakers or flats.
- When you were 12, what did you imagine your life would be like at your current age?
I couldn’t quite imagine a whole life with all the details at that age. But I’ve always loved writing, drawing and films from a young age so I knew that I would eventually join the creative industries. And here I am!
4 thoughts on “Not Your Average Woman: Diana Othman”
Wow, the home is definitely different. Her room is so neat and tidy!
I am enjoying your ‘Not your average woman’ interview series 🙂
Her Mum is awesome lah! Even her kitchen is all decked out
What a beautiful home! It’s so whimsical – plus Diana is such an awesome lady. I love her style and that maxi frock she is wearing is just beautiful. Must agree with Juanita – I do love this series, its great to “virtually” meet some women who inspire you xoxo
And when I get my ass to NZ, I’ll tell your story too! You and your beautiful handmade dresses!!