Style icon Stephanie Lee recounts her favourite Tatler Ball memories and the Tatler photoshoot that changed her life

In celebration of Tatler Singapore’s 40th anniversary this year, we ask our closest friends to share their first—and favourite—memories of us for My Tatler First. First up is Stephanie Lee, who has celebrated some of her most important milestones with Tatler.

From her introduction into high society as a 16-year-old at the Debutante Ball to her wedding almost 10 years ago and her transformation into a fashion plate with an eye for daring designers, you can say that Tatler Singapore was there to chronicle some of the most important milestones in Stephanie Lee’s life.

But the one that will forever hold special meaning for Lee is the time she returned from an overseas fashion shoot with Tatler for the August 2011 issue with a dazzling ring on her finger—from none other than the leading man in her life, Choo Ken-Yi. And yes, the Tatler team was in on the surprise proposal he planned at the clifftop Karma Kandara resort in Bali over a romantic dinner for two.

Now a mother of three, to Max, 6, Isabelle, 5, and Kate, 3, Lee shares some of her most notable memories of Tatler, including the 2015 Tatler Ball, where nobody knew she had a bun baking in the oven. Oh, and the time she spotted the GOAT—millennial speak for “greatest of all time”—in our pages.

What are some of your first memories of Tatler?

Stephanie Lim (SL): I was about six and flipping through some old Tatler magazines when I spotted a photo of my dad with his name printed as “Billy (the goat) Lee”. It was probably in his nature to have Tatler write his name that way! Other fond memories include the time I was invited to take part in the Debutante Ball. That same year, I also attended my first Tatler Ball with my parents, where I admired the old-school glamour of it all. Tatler has invited me to do various shoots and features covering the different phases of my life, from age 17 until now, and I’m grateful for the friendships forged with the team, past and present, as well as new friends.

Which is your favourite Tatler shoot?

SL: I enjoy most Tatler shoots, as we always have a good laugh throughout. There was one where the studio encountered a blackout, and we did my hair and make-up in the dark using only the flashlight on an iPhone. But the one that holds special meaning for me is a fashion spread shot in Bali, where my husband Ken-Yi had secretly collaborated with the Tatler team for a surprise proposal.

Read more: Behind the Scenes with Stephanie Lee at Karma Kandara Resort, Bali

What about your most memorable Tatler Ball?

SL: Too difficult to choose! All the Tatler Balls were so enjoyable, with incredible thought and effort put in to ensure that the theme was embedded in the location, decor and food, without compromising on the fun element. We were usually the last to leave and I was always dancing into the wee hours—even when I was pregnant! But I think the most memorable Tatler Ball was the one in 2015, where my parents were named the Society Couple of the Year and my father jokingly announced during his speech that he was expecting—or rather, commanding—my sister Cheryl and I to work harder to give him more grandchildren (he only had one then), causing much laughter and subjecting Ken-Yi and I to much teasing from friends. Ironically, absolutely no one, not even my parents, knew that I was actually two months pregnant then!

Read more: Singapore Tatler Ball 2015: Highlights

Is there a notable fashion moment?

SL: Actually, yes. It was during the Bali fashion shoot: I had three balls of fake hair in various sizes stacked on my head and I was styled in a beautiful emerald green Etro gown with a majestic train. It was such a high fashion yet surreal moment, as the whole styling and shoot took place atop a cliff, against the magnificent backdrop of the Indian Ocean.

Tell us about a fun photo booth moment for you.

SL: This was at the 2017 Fashion Awards, when I was awarded Most Stylish Woman and my whole family was there to support me. While the photo shows us clowning around, it was heartfelt for me as well, as my father was at the time recovering from a stroke and was physically not as mobile and strong, yet the mood was light-hearted, candid and relaxed. It reminds me of the importance of family and to be grateful.

What is the best part of a day or night out with Tatler?

SL: Catching up with friends over drinks, and that the events are usually curated experiences.

What is a Tatler tradition you love?

SL: That it’s a family affair.

What are the three hashtags you’d use to describe Tatler?

SL: #celebrationoflifeextraordinare, #timelesstrailblazers and #heritagenostalgia.

What is your wish for Tatler as we celebrate our 40th anniversary?

SL: My heartiest congratulations on 40 successful years and the remarkable journey to where you are now. May you continue to extend your footprint and further your endeavours in the causes of philanthropy, culture, society, fashion and technology. Wishing Tatler Singapore a fabulous 40th anniversary and may you reach greater heights in future. Thank you all for the wonderful memories!

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