A fond farewell

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 23 December, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 23 December, 2001, 12:00am

When people have asked me how I fill this page every week, this is what I say: I go out to lunch with publicists, socialites, designers and retailers; I spend loads of time on the phone; and occasionally I fly to Florence for perfume launches and Paris for the debut of a new handbag line. As career choices go, it's a hectic and glorious ride. For me, however, it is one that must now end.

The timing, as is often the case in these things, couldn't have been better. As I write this in my home in Los Angeles, my three-day-old son is fast asleep. I sensed I was reaching the end of the fashion-columnist stage of my life when I started to become more excited about a new nappy-delivery service than Vuitton's latest Graffiti bag. When that happens, you know it's time to call it a day. But how different it once was. A typical week would involve dinner at the China Club with Jerry Hall, lunch at M at the Fringe with the president of Dior, and a jet taking me to Tokyo, New York or Milan.

And all because of this single column, which began because I had a perverse ability to acquire information trivial to most of the world, yet curiously important to a small segment of the local population. Tales along the lines of 'Calvin Klein comes to town', 'Top socialite is ejected from fashion show', and 'Hong Kong woman spends $300,000 on a frock' were actually taken seriously. I remember writing about a top-secret shopping trip in a Hong Kong location made by the wife of the leader of an Asian country. The Monday after the item appeared, I received a call from the retailer involved, chastising me for the disclosure.

This is the conversation that followed ...

Retailer: 'You shouldn't have written it. It is a question of security.'

Me: 'But it has already happened. What security?'

Retailer: 'You don't understand. It is a question of security.'

Me: 'But it has happened already!'

And on it went for the next 45 minutes, until I had to hang up to produce another page of 'inflammatory' trivia. This column led me to appearances on CNBC and CNN and interviews in a host of magazines worldwide, all asking me to 'dish the dirt' on the whims and fancies of Hong Kong society. An editor of Vanity Fair even took me to tea at the Clipper Lounge at the Mandarin Oriental to ask me what I knew about a well-known local tycoon. (Obviously it was not enough - the story never ran.)

And while my many sources have been kind and forthcoming, it would be naive to overlook the fact that this column has served their purposes too. Still, receiving those calls and emails with a new little snippet was always exciting. At other times, people were too scared to say anything to me. Imagine that.

It's sad to say goodbye to something that has been such a major part of my life for so long. And I thank those who helped keep it going - the readers and the contributors of all that fundamentally superfluous but always entertaining material.

As you read this in Hong Kong, I am with my family completing a traditional Hindu naming ceremony for my baby boy, one that will symbolically signal the start of his life ... and mark a new life of my own.