GOLDEN GIRL

NARELLE KHENG, ROLE MODEL MIL­LEN­NIAL, SHOWS OFF HER QUIRKY CHARM – AND TIF­FANY & CO.’S SIG­NA­TURES – IN PARIS.

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Mu­si­cian, ac­tress, en­tre­pre­neur... Narelle Kheng at Paris Fash­ion Week do­ing what she does best: be­ing her­self.

Narelle Kheng likes to use the word “like”, like, a lot. “I’m sorry. Like, I’m a bimbo, okay,” she says self­dep­re­cat­ingly when we bring this up – a big re­minder of why she’s one of to­day’s most well-loved and fol­lowed fe­male per­son­al­i­ties, both by the me­dia and fel­low young mil­len­ni­als.

Not be­cause she’s a ditz, of course. Be­yond be­ing the bassist and vo­cal­ist of lo­cal pop band The Sam Wil­lows, the 24-year-old has in­ter­ests and en­deav­ours that let on that she’s any­thing but. A sci­ence stu­dent in ju­nior col­lege who also dab­bled in drama, she lights up ex­pound­ing on the work and the­o­ries of award-win­ning sci­ence fic­tion writer Ted Chi­ang.

Last year, she re­vealed her en­tre­pre­neur­ial side, co-found­ing the co-work­ing space/bar 21 Moon­stone atop an old in­dus­trial build­ing near Seran­goon Road. Her goal, she says, is to have it be­come a com­mu­nity space for like­minded cre­atives. Around press time, it held its first pub­lic event, Xiao Ko­pi­tiam – a cheeky nod to the space’s for­mer use as a can­teen – that of­fered beers and af­ford­able ar­ti­sanal grub, along­side wares and ser­vices by in­de­pen­dent lo­cal la­bels. Like her, the mood was fun, ca­sual, and down­right un­pre­ten­tious.

Therein lies Kheng’s most en­dear­ing ap­peal: that she’s plainly, un­apolo­get­i­cally mil­len­nial. It’s some­thing that she’s de­clared re­peat­edly in in­ter­views, so much so that it could seem per­func­tory – ex­cept that in per­son, she ex­udes many of the best traits as­so­ci­ated with Gen­er­a­tion Y.

Her am­bi­tious­ness and me­dia-savvy – honed through years of be­ing in the pub­lic eye as a per­former in the band as well as Youtube videos – is grounded by a sharp dose of prag­ma­tism. “I work in the busi­nessen­ter­tain­ment world. Some­times, what you need to do (for so­cial me­dia) can be re­ally cut-

throat, but if it works for you, then good,” she says of the sig­nif­i­cance of so­cial me­dia in her life. “I (also) think ev­ery­body kind of un­der­stands that In­sta­gram is a cu­rated front these days, and (that it should be taken) with a pinch of salt.”

It might ex­plain her hu­mor­ous, at times off­beat, In­sta­gram per­sona. While she ad­mits to be­ing im­age-con­scious, her 137K-fol­low­ers-strong ac­count (@narellekheng) is pep­pered with wacky quotes and self-por­traits. To ac­com­pany an out-take – stamped with a heart mo­tif – of her and band­mate San­dra Ri­ley Tang in awk­ward, man­nequin-like mid-pose: a blithe “caption this”.

“I’m start­ing to re­alise that it’s eas­ier to be who you are,” she says. “I don’t want to have a trashy im­age, but it has to be one that’s truth­ful.”

And it says plenty about her views on fash­ion. Like many of her age, she grav­i­tates to­wards street wear, less so for hype than com­fort. “(I could be) in a re­ally tight skirt or high heels and look re­ally pretty, but if some­body were to ask me a ques­tion, I wouldn’t even be able to move,” she says. “(But) any­thing that (al­lows me to) sit on a plane for 25 hours, or go to the movies and hug my legs with­out worry – that’s great.”

And when we in­vited her along to Paris Fash­ion Week F/W ’18 in Fe­bru­ary and have the ex­pe­ri­ence – her first – doc­u­mented, she agreed read­ily, but was quick to point out that she has no in­ten­tion of be­com­ing a fash­ion in­flu­encer. She ex­plains: “I don’t want to be cast un­der just this one um­brella... (Plus) I’m a jeans and sneak­ers kind of girl – I like fash­ion that’s re­lat­able.” Okay, Narelle, like, “Like”.

Cot­ton jersey sweat­shirt, Gucci. Tif­fany Hard­wear Chain Wrap neck­lace, and Tif­fany T Square Wrap bracelet with di­a­monds. All jew­ellery through­out in 18K yel­low gold un­less oth­er­wise stated, Tif­fany & Co.

Who says home­bod­ies are dull, from pg 100

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