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Kids who know the finer things in life
by Sylvia Toh Paik Choo

SHE wears lipstick and matching nail polish, rings on both hands, dangly earrings, high heels, and carries a US$850 ($1,200) Salvatore Ferragamo handbag.

And what's so wrong with that?

Well, Suri Cruise is only 4 years old. And this is how the tomkitten is togged for a day out in New York City.

The daughter of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes is a "youthful trendsetter" because of her closet style. (See report on page 24.)

Baby versions of mummy's clothes, princess-themed birthday party frocks, shopping for fabrics with mum, choosing her own lip gloss at Sephora.

The child of movie star parents, who earn mad money, can't yet count but clutches designer handbags. Can fur at four be far behind? (How about buying Suri a storybook, huh, Katie? She's never been photographed with literature. No, no, we don't mean the Louis Vuitton autumn-winter catalogue.)

For all the criticism levelled at Suri's style, Singapore socialite mums we spoke to concurred they do spend money grooming and dressing their girls, but only because "every little girl wants to be a princess".

Instilling good taste

Mrs Renee Leung, 36
Founder/Designer Renee L Collection

She handed me her business card. Cal's Wardrobe, Bespoke Little Girls' Dresses.
Calista Leung is 5 and her square pink card reads, The Boss.

Eat your heart out, Suri! She is Renee's daughter and older sister to Nicolette, 1. The girls grow up in the midst of haute couture fabric in mum's designer boutique in Delphi, Orchard Road.

Renee said, beaming: "Cal can even tell good fabric from poor. 'Mummy, this doesn't feel right.' She's always rustling between the wedding and ball gowns."

This mum has no apologies for spending money on her girls' grooming, "Cal has a mani-pedi once a month. It's less than $50 and both John and I want our girls to be well-groomed."Calista's own little boutique is two floors up from mum's and stocks dream confections (from $300).

Renee said: "My mum dressed up my sister and me, took us to society events and instilled good taste. I am passing down the same to my daughters.

"Nicolette is currently Ariel the little mermaid, her jie-jie is an everlasting princess "who knows how to co-ordinate, sometimes surprising me with her eye".

Cal is not into toys at all, "so having her hair styled, nails done is the reward and the treat instead."She wears a hint of blusher and eye shadow for the photoshoot.

But mum is strict. "Not too much, darling."She has a small collection of "Dior and Burberry and Bottega Veneta, but I must tell you those are not from us. From the grandmother and from friends".

Renee emphasises exemplary manners.

"Oh the girls sit properly cross-legged, say all their ‘pleases' and ‘thank yous', and while we like to buy pretty things, we prefer to buy ‘activity' things."

No room for vanity

Dr Iroshini Chua, 34
General practitioner

Everyone calls her "Iro" and she was blessed with a privileged childhood in Colombo where her family, the Gunawardanas, are in the precious gems industry.

She met her Singaporean husband, Dr Kevin Chua, also a general practitioner, when they were in medical school in Ireland. They have two delightful children, son Jorim, 6, and daughter Aiyana, 3.

The bright lad was crashing his green toy car into walls "to test how fast, how strong, yesss!"He gave his sister a hug, nodded that she is pretty and dresses nicely, and when I remarked on his vest, challenged, "This is not a vest!"

Iro said: "Children are a blessing, so you do want to do everything for them, including dolling them up. I do have limits because my kids are young and have no concept of values yet.

I don't want there to be no end to it – vanity."The girl, a little shy, cannot pronounce "Hermes" yet, but will play with mum's collection. Her own trove is full of accessories and sunnies and hats.

"Girls will copy their mummies, so she does experiment with make-up, but at home. And then she dresses up her Barbies."She baulks at a young child stepping out fussed up like Suri Cruise. "The stars are different, to a degree."

On price, Iro would only say with a smile: "If it's quality; besides, I do send the outgrown clothes to Sri Lanka, so they are put to good use."The family holiday last school break was in Cambodia.

"My son asked why children had to work, and why they needed money." Iro chooses clothes above dolls. "But it's ridiculous to buy designers for children. It's inappropriate looking."

It's nature and nurture

Mrs Sharel Ho, 35
MD Jewels DeFred

From her teenage days in Ipoh, she has heeded the words of Michelle Yeoh's mother.
Sharel said, "Auntie Janet (the actress's mum) always said, 'Keep your daughters close, groom them well'." Good advice.

"The result bounded into their parents' plush store in Mandarin Gallery, one bearing a cup of tea, the other striking a pose. Khai Lie is 10 and Khai Ling 7. Both attend Singapore Chinese Girls' School.

From the time they could crawl, mother has dressed them up. "I love to see beautiful things, and for my babies, to look beautiful, you can't think of money.

"Also, the jie-jie can pass it down to her sister."Homework comes first, and then, one class after another – modelling, speech and drama, dance, "the younger one absorbs more".

The businesswoman (husband is the eponymous Fred) believes in equal opportunity. "Nature and nurture. 50-50.

As a mother, it's important to build their confidence and train EQ and IQ. Otherwise, instead of a bending flower, you will get a stiff bamboo."

Both parents tend to spoil the girls, "whatever they want". They are still young "to know what's good, what's bad" and are exhorted to "study hard" and appreciate "what they have".

The kids never pass a busker without dropping in money, and there are visits to orphanages to learn it's a different world out there.

For dresses, some are specially tailored for occasions. Like society events which allow children.

"I buy from anywhere, no brands, I just know what will look nice on them. The most expensive was $800. But I will stop at $1,000."



This article was first published in The New Paper.


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readers' comments
hope the kids don't grow up to be spoilt brats who think the world owes them a living....slim chance though.....
Posted by honda879z on Sun, 4 Apr 2010 at 22:51 PM
I am old Singaporean uncle who has been living away from home for the for the four decades.This was what I observed during my last balek kampung and I posted this in my blog
"Living simply has become a thing of the past, and now individuals long for more and more material possessions. We are indeed consumed by consumerism. Our newly acquired standard HDB flat or private condos are no longer acceptable. We need to gut it inside out and have it renovated from the floor to the ceiling. The kitchen needs to have the latest fittings and electrical appliances but sadly never have the opportunity to be utilised and cook the family meals. Our kids demanded their one year old mobile phones to be upgraded to a slimmer model with extra features. Clever advertisements have honed in on our internalised and erroneous belief that our children .....
Posted by Cheewong1 on Sun, 4 Apr 2010 at 08:52 AM
boos to future brainless ding-dong spoilt brats!
Posted by thoughtswhiz on Sat, 3 Apr 2010 at 21:20 PM
In all fairness, almost everyone wants the very best for their children. So long as the parents can afford it, I don't think it is bad. I think the parents just have to instill the right values. Anyway from the article, I would think that these parents would probably have trust funds set up for their kids so $$$ is not going to be a problem for them.
Posted by on Sat, 3 Apr 2010 at 18:57 PM
kudos to sph. now the normal kids sure feels better for not having to go through the tedious routine of curing and dressing up..
Posted by edmundchew on Sat, 3 Apr 2010 at 18:53 PM make me laugh!!! what do you mean by "having extra money and buy 'Mian Zi'(face)"
Right now their parents can afford this kind of lifestyle for their kids! When the grow you think they can maintain the same kind of lifestyle?
If they could not afford to maintain the same kind of lifestyle....what they will do?
Most likely they will be pressured to other immoral activities to maintain they same kind of lifestyle....I am not saying every kid grow up to be like that but some will will do that eventually. Just imagine if one of your kids end up like that, then will will you be going to put your......'Mian Zi'(face)?
Posted by balaballs on Sat, 3 Apr 2010 at 16:00 PM
Accept the facts out there guys and gals....end of the day its not about how they're going to bring up their kids in their own way but more about having extra money and buy 'Mian Zi'(face)....when u re up there...u do everything for a reason..and when u re down there....u always complaint...and comment..usually too much..
Posted by melvin02 on Sat, 3 Apr 2010 at 14:26 PM make me laugh!!! what do you mean by "having extra money and buy 'Mian Zi'(face)"
Right now their parents can afford this kind of lifestyle for their kids! When the grow you think they can maintain the same kind of lifestyle?
If they could not afford to maintain the same kind of lifestyle....what they will do?
Most likely they will be pressured to other immoral activities to maintain they same kind of lifestyle....I .....
Posted by balaballs on Sat, 3 Apr 2010 at 15:53 PM
I want to puke when I read this. Not because I am jealous, but because the parents are overdoing things. Children should be allowed to grow up. These parents are making them into mini-adults even before they are in their teens. Freaks.
Posted by mimosatree on Sat, 3 Apr 2010 at 15:53 PM
I want to puke when I read this - not because I am jealous - but the parents are over-doing things. They should allow the children to grow up, not making them into mini-adults when they are not even into their teens.
Posted by mimosatree on Sat, 3 Apr 2010 at 15:51 PM
Why do you provide these "sickos" with a platform to flaunt their "insecurities"........Mothers who allow their kids to do this really need help!!
Posted by on Sat, 3 Apr 2010 at 15:17 PM

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