Now, this is something you don’t see at a photo shoot: Fiona Xie, quiet and sitting still.

It’s November and today is one of those gawdawful Singapore days where it’s wet and humid one minute and hot and humid the next. There’s a reason Fiona Xie is behaving so uncharacteristically: she’s down with the flu, which may or may not have been caused by the crappy weather. “My whole family is sick too,” she sighs, the cold medicine she had taken earlier possibly kicking in now.

She’s never been one to sit still. It’s a statement you can take figuratively — before she returned to Singapore in 2016, she was jet-setting around the world, setting up base for brief periods of time in Shanghai, Hongkong, Tokyo. In the next few months, she plans to travel to Bhutan, LA, San Francisco, New York, London and Berlin. We feel jetlagged just from typing that sentence.

She’s also not one to sit still in the most literal sense.

Everyone who’s ever worked with Fiona would attest to how she’s like a ball of unlimited energy, the kind that if she were a character in a Marvel movie, she would definitely be an Infinity Stone. Or that thing that powers Iron Man’s suit. When we ask her what time she goes to bed every night, she chirps, “I don’t! I can survive on hardly any sleep actually. Perhaps I’m a vampire.”

Her peppiness is why photos shoots with her are always an experience, and why we find it so disconcerting to see her so subdued today.

True story: 10 years ago at a cover shoot, Fiona, at the behest of our stylist, gamely smeared cake all over her face… and started a mini food fight in the Presidential Suite of the Marina Mandarin. We can almost still taste the whipped cream.

There’s no whipped cream today. There is, though, a pink elephant in the room that we cannot ignore. A few weeks ago, she had lopped off her long hair (“I haven’t cut it in more than 10 years,” she says) and now sports a short, angular bob — no, it is not a wig — that was first dyed platinum but now has been coloured Millennial pink especially for the 8 DAYS shoot today. It makes Fiona, so recognisable a star, look instantly unrecognisable. We had done a double take when we bumped into her at an event a few days after the big snip, and she had giddily described her new haircut, or rather the process of chopping off her tresses, as “a rebirth”. 

But before we can actually get talking about FX’s metamorphosis, or, you know, talking for that matter, she needs to get well first.

 

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