Less, in Thai fashion, is rarely more. Give a designer an inch of lace, he’ll use a yard. Profusion does not, it seems, lead to confusion. If, according to Wilde, “nothing succeeds like excess”, then 27 Friday’s pile-it-on, deck-it-out collection was a success.
Designer Chanachai Jareeyathana loved details and he put them all out for you to see: the gathers, the flounces, the folds, the tucks, the knots. He was enamoured with trims too, and you could tell that he had a great time at the haberdasher’s, so much so that his finds inevitably made their way to necklines, hems and seams. He was not shy of mixing prints, often clashing them–pa khao ma gingham with mudmee–with total glee. As the collection was supposed to be inspired by the north-east, village ladies’ seua ken kood got updated and embellished (three-tiered, with long back, short front) while more urban outfits were accessorised with pa khao ma sashes and bedecked with the lei-like puang ma lai, giving the show a merry mood of a khao pansa religious festival, or even the songkran of yore.
In a catwalk presentation, it’s easy to be distracted by the styling and not see what the clothes really are. Working ethnic elements into a collection to underscore one’s cultural identity can work to arresting effect, but when there’s no synthesis of tradition and innovation, the effort falls on the side of the gimmicky. Remove the pa khao ma sashes, and you were bereft of the stylist’s bag of tricks.
In the end, it was more fashion carnival than show. For sure, it was all very sanook, and the audience lapped up the high energy even when the too-citified-to-be-aware models appeared bored by the look toong soundtrack, which, if played outside the show-tent would have been cheesy to many Bangkokians. Midway, however, when visual fatigue set in, you got this crapulous feeling that enough was enough.
The show was entitled, “She has been waiting”. For what, I wondered. At the end of it, no one was the wiser.