The fashionistas at Poem have introduced their fall/winter 2023 collection “Oriental Ethereal' with a catwalk in Shanghai, the Thai label’s first solo show on foreign soil. The brand was established nearly two decades ago and has garnered loyal followers for its classic tailoring and innovative focus on an hour-glass figure.
During the pandemic, while most businesses were at a standstill, designer and founder Chavanon “Sean” Caisiri, had the opportunity to expose the brand to Chinese consumers and establish a flagship store in Shanghai.
“It was a more challenging experience, having to manage all aspects carefully, dealing with organizers, directors, and flying out around 60 Thai guests, celebrities, and customers,” Sean tells BK.
Tapping into the Chinese market, Sean pulled inspiration from his upbringing as a third generation Thai-Chinese immigrant, lending a unique cross-cultural perspective in his work. The title of the collection “Oriental Ethereal” combines Asian references with the western ethereal/angelic style theory coined by John Kitchener back in the 1980s.
As to inspirations, Chinese speakers will be familiar with the works of author Jin Yong, a titan in Chinese wuxia novels who put female characters to the fore. In one of Yong’s pieces, the lead Xiaolongnu is an elegant celestial being who appears out of a mystical haze. The visual reference to this character is clear in Sean’s use of nude-illusion fabrics and light-weight textiles such as organzas.
The inspiration behind Sean’s finalé Serpent-Line dress—worn by Thai actress and model Davika “Mai” Horne—originates from Chinese folktale “The Legend of the White Snake” in Hangzhou. Growing up in Yaowarat (Bangkok’s Chinatown), the designer was drawn to the tale’s enthralling “White Maiden” after his mother took him to see a Chinese opera adaptation with an all female cast.
With these legendary female characters in Chinese folklore, the collection exhibits the designer’s deep fascination with femininity and a rounded exploration of the designer’s multicultural vision.