When Datin Sabrena Dani strode into Alexis Bistro one evening, conversations around us ground to a halt as everyone in the space turned their heads to look at her.
Although she was dressed simply in a white cotton tank top and a deep blue wraparound skirt, she exuded an air of sultriness—thanks to the matching blue bikini she wore beneath the tank top and the Celine cat-eye sunglasses that shielded the upper half of her face from view.
She had no makeup on, save for a bronzed tan she acquired from a prior vacation, and her hair was piled up on top of her head in a messy bun. All it takes is one glance at this bombshell walking towards our direction and we knew we had chosen the perfect pick for the Most Stylish Woman award for 2015.
After we introduced ourselves, I politely referred to her with her title of Datin but the wife of Datuk Wira Dani was quick to interject and said, “No, please. Sabrena will do. You can call me Datin later when I am older.” The display of self-deprecating humour broke the ice immediately—we laughed at her response and felt at ease.
When we presented the official letter to her that communicated our intent to present her with this year’s Most Stylish Woman award, she was shocked into silence.
“Are you serious?” she said, blinking a few times at the letter she held in her hand. When we hastened to assure her it was not a joke, the faltering expression vanished as quickly as it came and she thanked us for the honour with a wide grin. It would occur to me much later this was the only time I have seen this unflappable lady overcome with surprise.
The truth is, save for basic courtesy words exchanged with her during her attendance at our Malaysia Tatler Ball and a handful of social events in the past, this writer rarely crossed paths with this private, low-profile fashionista. I have heard of Datin Sabrena prior to this, of course; she was often described by her friends as vivacious—traits that have made her a popular figure among diverse social circles.
“Top three things that come to mind when it comes to Sabrena would be that she is adventurous, fierce and she is the perfect kaki for roller coaster rides,” confides Shirieene Hajamaideen, a past winner of the Most Stylish Woman award and a close friend of Datin Sabrena. “Plus, she is really fun and outgoing. Ruben and I always enjoy travelling with her and her husband Wira!”
I completely agree that Datin Sabrena is a fabulous social companion. During my time with her throughout our cover story shoot, I notice that having fun comes naturally to her. When she smiles, it lights up her entire face and her eyes will sparkle—dancing with life. She doesn’t chuckle or giggle, she opens her mouth and throws back her head to laugh.
When she casually mentions to me that goth is a style that she has never tried before in her life, it all made sense. A free-spirited woman like her can never understand the moody, dark and morbid element of the goth subculture. Her lips twitch in an amused smile when I inform her of a research that recently indicated young people identifying themselves as goths often have a higher risk of depression. “No wonder I always find goth too intimidating to try. It’s just not me to be depressed very long, I guess.”
That being said, before she managed to perfect her current glamour puss image, Datin Sabrena confesses she has had her fair share of fashion disasters, even if goth was not in the cards. Hip-hop had always been a genre she had always gravitated to. To commemorate this one-time passion of hers, she used the term ‘retired gangster’ on her Instagram account profile description.
“Baggy jeans, loose T-shirts—I used to think I was so fashionable when I wear them. I wore those criss-cross type of jeans backwards because it was cool in those days. Every time I look at all my old photos, I always wonder why the fashion police haven’t arrested me yet,” she confides cheekily.
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Art direction and photography: Kim Mun from Hopscotch Photography; Styling, hair and makeup: Jo Lorenz, Ray Lim from Hair Channel and Zamri Zainol using Lancôme; Outfits: Carolina Herrera, Miu Miu, Dior and Pucci; Jewellery: Cartier