You might have seen some of Bella’s mouthwatering creations on her Instagram page, but you might not have known that both Bella, and husband Terence, boast some serious style chops. Terence has his own interior design studio, and lectures on the side, while Bella also heads the buying, creative direction, and social media marketing of Flea & Trees, the shop that the couple started together. Bella & Terence swear that they didn’t plan to coordinate their outfits today; it kind of just happened. When you’re together for 17 years, as Bella says, your brain waves begin to sync.
How did you meet? Was there mutual attraction right from the beginning, or how did it grow?
Terence (T): It has to be a mutual, after 17 years. It matures and strengthens when we get to know each other better.
Bella (B): It’s a long story. We were in the same design school. He was the lecturer while I was the student…we were never apart for a day from then onwards.
Do you influence each other, style-wise? Has your style changed since the both of you met?
T: I am pretty much the same, only getting more monochromatic in colours, and more colourful in monochrome as I grow older. You can’t dress in someone else’s style, it’s tough. We both have our opinions of style. We don’t have much time to discuss what we wear, so it’s more like a coincidence.
B: Not much. But we both have moods and we always dress according to how we feel that day, or we dress for the occasion. I do believe, though, that when you live with a person for that long, your brain waves begin to cross each other.
Do you often consult each other for style help? Do you try to persuade each other to dress in a certain way?
T: Yes and no. Style is a personal matter, and it changes through time.
B: We seek each other out for help only when it comes to important events. I’d only persuade him on sometimes-outrageous hairstyles. As you know, our friend here is quite the chameleon, with his ever-changing hair moments.
What do you like best about each other’s style? Could you describe each other’s style?
T: Bella’s wardrobe is full of tasteful pieces. She has her natural sense of style in fashion. Her style has a natural flow of elegance, but yet, it’s contemporary.
B: When I first met Terence, he looked more like a spiritual leader, almost yogi-like: full white, linen ensemble, shaved hair, with trinkets on his wrists. His style has evolved much over the years; he’s still minimal but more Italian chic. A good pair of leather shoes, his iconic cardigan slung over his shoulders, a crisp white shirt, skinny pants accompanied by a man bag…
Do you share items from your closets? Is there any particular piece that you really like on him/her?
T: I love her Céline bag collection. I want all of them.
B: I recently stole his Jil Sander card holder as a wallet as I have decided that big wallets are annoying for now. And yes, he eyes my Céline Cabas tote a lot.
Bella cooks a lot (of amazing-looking dishes) at home. Does Terence ever join in? Can he cook as well, and is it something that you enjoy doing together?
T: Bella is a great talented chef and she cooks for herself daily. I am fortunate to be her sous chef when I’m free. Cooking is a very enjoyable creative process.
B: I usually make lunches while he’s at work (laughs). But yes, when we do cook, he’s my trusted sous chef. He’s got hidden talent. He makes a mean Cantonese steamed fish. Cooking is a shared bonding time.
The both of you clearly pay attention to how you dress. What is one thing about the way that some Singaporeans dress that irks you?
T: The slack attitude that celebrates the ugliness of their local identity, which is obscene bad taste and ignorance of aesthetic judgment. They wear what they would wear in their bedroom to Orchard Road on Saturdays and Sundays.
B: If everyone makes an effort to dress up, our tiny country will be a better place to live in. It’s all about respecting yourself and others when it comes to dressing up. You can drive the most expensive car or carry the most expensive bag but when you are clad in bermudas and slippers, or are a blogshop mess, you just have bad taste.
Do you find it difficult to balance work life and the time you spend together?
T: It’s not easy when work is gets more and more stressful at times. It’s our good fortune that we also work together on our shop, as working together is another way to balance our quality time. I believe it takes a mutual effort to make it work.
B: We have never stopped talking about work, ideas, and ambitions since we met. It’s the kind of conversation that keeps us communicating as a couple. It makes our brains work and our hearts tick.
Tell us something interesting about each other.
T: Bella loves animals and she s a strong advocate of healthy food. She inherits her grandmother’s love of and talent for cooking. She loves masak masak, and it gets so serious that it continues in #TheCatKitchen.
B: Terence amasses a huge collection of books and has a fetish for polka-dots. He enjoys collecting and somewhat accumulating random objects. It could be an animal figurine, a pen, a postcard, or anything he finds interesting. I guess that’s the artist’s instinct in him.
Any personal mottos or philosophies that you’re living by right now?
T: Go with your heart, live it full.
B: Live in the present moment, live slow, and love life everyday.