Jan 31, 2008|
Bangkok didn’t quite turn into the fashion capital of the world it was charted to become a few years ago. What went wrong? We have plenty of young people who watch Project Runway, have rich dads and are willing to put their names on clothes designed by other people. Or does it take more than that? BK speaks to six real designers of the pains and joys that come with dressing up the world but also of what 2008 has in store for you.
Central Saint Martin alum Tutti Nuttanuch Changtrakul (nee Wongpuapan) is taking on Thailand’s fashion scene with her self-titled line, Tutti. Fresh out of college, she was taken under the wings of Teerabul Songvich, a prominent London-based Thai fashion figure, whose own collection was showcased here during ELLE Fashion Week in 2003. Thanks to her training and connections, she quickly placed some of her pieces in the Baking Soda boutique, under her own brand. Now the mother of an 18-month-old baby girl, Tutti is as active as ever thanks to her boutique and an upcoming show.
Tutti explores the feminine side of the corporate world. Sticking to the workplace’s norms, she plays up blacks, whites and grays with floral knits and printed patterns. Her collection showed at the Prêt-à-Porter Paris convention last year. “The concept is girly. We have lots of details like crochets, sequins and laces,” she explains. “We also add vintage touches to the designs as it makes them more timeless.” Tutti gets her inspiration from everywhere she looks—even a vintage tablecloth lace was digitalized and printed onto one of her pieces.
The Year Ahead
With a new addition to the family, Tutti is now focusing on her ready-to-wear collection rather than putting together a show. As for the trends, according to Tutti, bright and bold colors are what we’ll be seeing more of. “Although we’re not planning for Spring and Summer yet, I think you can expect more colors that are sweet, like pink.” Lots of bows and prominent details will also make there way into our wardrobes. “But, in the end, it’s all about feeling comfortable with what you’re wearing. When you look in the mirror, you need to see yourself,” says Tutti.
The young design duo Jack Atirotj Rojratanawalee and O Saran Yenpanya graduated from Chulalongkorn University Faculty of Architecture (Industrial Design). So why clothes? “I ended up wanting to design clothes because it was something different from what we studied. It was more interesting to do something I could learn more about,” says Jack. With the help of fashion label HeadQuarter’s Mai Patsarun Sriluansoi, they’ve begun rolling out playful dresses that mix and match ropes, threads, knitting and even rubber bands.
Known for their “Rubber Band” and “Prism” dresses that were showcased at last year’s Elle Fashion Week, Jack and O’s no name designs are inspired by the likes of Erykah Badu. “She was our inspiration—a raw mix of African tribe and hip hop culture,” says Jack. Then came Nokia’s Young Designers project, during which Jack and O’s creative thoughts eventually materialized into multi-colored knitted dresses and uniquely shaped numbers like the Prism. Each dress created by Jack and O expresses a sense of future and untamed originality.
The Year Ahead
“I’m planning to evolve towards dresses you can wear in real life,” says Jack, whose avant-garde style might be a bit too flashy even for Siam Square consumers. They will be focusing on accessories like handbags to show on the BIG+BIH (Bangkok International Gift Fair) this year. As for their own boutique, they’re in no hurry. On trends, Jack and O like to stick to what they know best—colors. “I would say that this year, it is all about colors. People are starting to focus on bringing color back into the picture.”
Raised as a stay-at-home daughter, Kung Saruda Nimpitakpong was handed a needle and thread at very young age. But she soon began sending her designs to competitions—and winning them. Her lucky number 8 kicked in when she was invited to work for Triple 8, which was a part of the government-sponsored project “Young Thai Brands.” Triple 8 later evolved into the sassy 8E88 and the real life fairytale dresses in her other line, Kunitar. Kung, along with her husband Pom Chinachan Nimpitakpong, are now two of Thailand’s leading designers and appeared on Bangkok Fashion Week’s runways. She is the darling of Thai celebrities like VJs Jah Nuttaveeranuch Thongmee and Nadia Nimitvanich, and socialite Darunee Kritbunyalai.
Kung claims she’s inspired by her customers and their personality. “Each one of our brands gives a totally different look and feel,” she explains. The concept of 8E88 is bold and high in contrasts, while the princess outfits from Kunitar combine layers and pastel colors. Lastly, Triple 8 is designed for young professionals who need hip but wearable work wear. “I love working closely with my customers. I’m like their personal stylist,” Kung adds. “Our designs focus on volume. If a dress needs 10 meters of fabric, I’m going to give it 10 meters!”
The Year Ahead
“Today, fashion has reached a limit. This is as extreme as it can get,” Kung forecasts. “Notice that clothes are getting looser, so that people with different shapes and sizes can wear them; I like that. This year, Kunitar will stick to its signature pastel colors with a little more art and romanticism. As for 8E88, you can expect the usual extravagance with a little chic-ness on top.”
After training at the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture, in Paris, Tu Tipayaphong Poosanaphong entered the fabulous haute couture workshops of Emanuel Ungaro. “When he took me in, I still had a lot to learn. It gave me a chance to experience fashion firsthand,” remembers Tu. But his name appeared on our local radar last year, when his crafty hat collection, “Hat at the Park,” was shown at the Emporium. After years of freelancing for the best fashion names in Paris, New York and Bangkok, Tu is now ready to embark on his own journey with “Tipayaphongpoosanaphong.”
“Street couture chic,” Tu calls it. His love of art and haute couture combine in a wearable high fashion line. “Haute couture is too grandiose and too expensive for us regular people to wear, so I want to make it more approachable. And since I worked in a couture workshop, why not use what I already know?” Tipayaphong’s collection involves lots of exquisite details like stitching and knitting to give couture touches to his ready-to-wear. Tu sees his clothes more like artworks than just simply outfits. Each of his items has a meaning. “I also have different types of clients so I try to find a compromise that appeals to them all.” Hence, Tu’s dresses are sexy and yet not skimpy, while his tailored suits manage to keep stuffiness at the door.
The Year Ahead
“Most of my clothes are inspired by artwork, and it’s going to be the same for my upcoming shows,” explains Tu of his new collection that sprung from a recent visit to the Musée de la Mode, in Paris. “They were focusing on the 1920s. My next collection, Speakeasy, is going to be full of prohibition-era elements such as patterns, geometry and even a touch of cabaret. In those days, all the fun was to be had in secret. I want to celebrate that sneaky feeling.” As for 2008, he also expects a return to color, but warns, “I never follow trends. I do what I love. I’m just gonna keep being myself.” What about us? “Bangkok is hot. I know people like to have just a t-shirt, shorts and flip flop ons, but you have to make an effort despite the climate. Dress up!”
Mark Maruwut Buranasilpin, a San Francisco Academy of Art University graduate, discovered fashion designs watching TV when he was 17. He’s since gone from being a trainee at Richard Tyler New York to owning his own line, Spooknic. “I get my inspiration from old classic movies—like those with Audrey Hepburn. Or even from people around me,” explains Mark. “I might not understand the language they speak, but I understand what they are wearing.” Mark is Thailand’s touch of classic nostalgia and simplicity.
Spooknic is the definition of uniqueness with its totally simple and individualistic look, like a simple long sleeved black dress with straightforward pleats for example. “Vintage is over for me, and mix and match is not my thing either, so to me it’s more about the reality look,” Mark says. “My clothes are simple with minimal details, but they’re made of expensive materials like silk, organza, or rare cloths.” Mark even expects a little effort from the women he dresses, “In order to wear these clothes, you have to understand them, know how to wear them and what to wear them with.”
The Year Ahead
This year Mark plans to open another line called “Asava.” On top of that there’s the launch of his 2008 collection that will be sporty yet sophisticated. “I want the American look with a Parisian twist,” he claims. You can expect to see detail-rich daily wear this coming season, but for the trends of 2008, just think prints, floral, and disco. “The seventies are back—bell bottom pants, floral prints, you name it.” Horrified? Don’t sweat it. “There are no rules in being fashionable really. Just have fun, wear what you like and express your personality,” advises Mark.
Want to be a designer?
“It might be clichéd but really just follow your heart. Doing fashion, you really have to devote yourself to it completely. If you think you’re not up for it, then maybe you aren’t. There’s no room for doubt. Inspiration can be found anywhere, it’s up to designers to see it.”
Jack & O
“Be patient when working in this industry. When it comes to working in fashion, you can easily get lost. We listen to other people’s opinions but only to a certain point. Stick to your own concept; after all, it’s your brand.”
“If you know you have passion for fashion, then go for it! What are you waiting for? Take a short fashion course to see if it’s truly your thing. Ask yourself, ‘Can I really do this?’ It’s not as easy as it looks. And share your ideas. Becoming a successful designer means knowing how to work with a team.”
“You have to take it step by step. It’s like drawing, you have to start with an outline. If you have money, sure, you can just open your own store, but you won’t have the necessary experience to survive. And for those starting small, if somebody slams a door shut in your face, just keep knocking until they open.”
“Do you want to be a fashion designer because of the title or because you actually want to create something for a person to wear? And it doesn’t just take creativity to create fashion. Knowing how to cut and sew a dress remains the essence of making clothes.”
Catch the featured designers’ latest fashion here
Bangkok International Gift Fair, The Challenger Hall 1-3, Impact Arena, Muang Thong-Thani, 02-512-0093/-104 ext 251. www.thaitradefair.com
For Jack and O’s flamboyant collection, it might not be in stores anytime soon, but you can catch them, and others, from Apr 21-22, at the very same trade fair that launched their career last year.
Tutti at Baking Soda
3/F Siam Center, Rama 1 Rd., 02-251-4995. BTS Siam
Tutti doesn’t have her own boutique yet, but you can still grab a piece of her girly vintage wear at the Tutti corner at Baking Soda.
Kunitar and 8E88
205/27 Thonglor (near Thonglor Soi 9), Sukhumvit Soi 55, 02-712-6258. BTS Thong Lo
For Kunitar’s princess dresses or 8E88’s staggering black and white numbers, you can go to their little homey boutique on Thonglor. Most of 8E88’s new pieces, however, can be found at 2/F Siam Center (near Fuji).
1/F Fashion Venue Zone, Siam Paragon (near Starbucks), Rama 1 Rd., 02-690-1000. BTS Siam
Mark’s silky dresses and elegant gowns can be found at the special fashion space in the middle of 1/F corridor, where you can also find other unique Thai designer collections.
3/F Siam Center, Rama 1 Rd., 02-658-1147. BTS Siam
Tipayaphong’s artistic take on fashion is currently on show at his boutique on the Thai designer floor of Siam Center.
bk asks: “What fashion trend do you not want to see again this year?”
Kornchawan Kongsri, 32, shop salesperson
“Over-exposed, too sexy, especially very short things.”
Chattra Puengcharoon, 22, call center operator and Sihem Bouras, 25, call center trainee
“Girly stuff like Hello Kitty, Mickey Mouse. Fake eyelashes.”
Santi Deephatthana, 23, junior assistant PR manager
“Skinny jeans for men.”
Thanyaporn Srisiricharoen, 22, student
“Red or pink hair. Come on, it’s so weird.”
Wanlop Liamkaew, 23, media planner
“No more leggings… Please.”
Nudjarin Mingkijcharoenchai, 25, pharmacist
“Super-high platform shoes.”
Plin Asavanaruenath, 22, student
“Oversized t-shirts and bell bottom jeans.”