Category Archives: Uncategorized

What A Laugh!

555

They declared: “We are the clothing brand by 2 girls… June & Kade designed to make all the girls happy & shiny”. Wonky sentence construction aside, it is the tendency to go askew in the way they do things that, perhaps, is the appeal of the women behind Hahaha : the happy girls label/project.

Conceived by Sawitri “June” Rochanapruk and Jirada “Loukkade” Yohara, two spirited individuals whose day (and oftentimes night)  job is hosting events, this mirthful collaboration seems born of their need to have something to wear and show, if their Facebook posts are any indication. Like most Bangkok lasses, these two care less about photographic value than showing the world they’ve been there and done that, but unlike most, what they wear is also what they sell. Their digital diary, an ode to girly pursuits, shows pieces from their current collections and those that are to come. Cute they maybe to their fans (presently, they have close to 30,000 “likes”), but these designs are Burda for the Twitter tribe.

We’ve always known that anyone in Bangkok can be a fashion designer. Actresses, singers, models and those who need to express themselves through dress can become a fashion designer or collaborate with a label to become one. But how seriously can we consider you to be a professional when you state: “Mixing the top and skirt from june collection n loved this! So we are gonna make it in July! Stay tuned! { top from Kade skirt from june} (sic)”, referring to the photo (top left). Yes, we can see them beaming with sororal pride, but is this really the route from concept to consumer? It appears that both girls pick from each other’s existing wardrobe, select a fabric, have a seamstress sew them up and dispatch to whoever places the orders.

In another era, they call this cottage industry.

Photo: Hahaha : the happy girls

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Awards That Are Stylish?

Award ceremonies in Bangkok are often curious events. In the fashion industry, they are, as I see it, mutual admiration opportunities lapped up by the patron and the recipient, both desirous of leaning on the reputation of being stylish.  These awards are not hard to dream up and inexpensive to produce, and  they easily satisfy the pretensions of the giver and the vanity of the taker. Elegance or smartness in dress does not always come into play, popularity and photogenic qualities of the nominees do.

Honouring  stylish people is now regularly occurring, but does giving out any award to those deemed to have style make the the award “stylish”? I mean, when the police gives out medals for bravery to those regular folks who have, say, rescued unsuspecting citizens from violent harm, do they give out “brave” awards?

It was, therefore, utterly amusing to me when I came across the Zen Stylish Awards 2012 last night.  It  was not unreasonable to assume that the department store Zen combined two events of the pre-Red Shirts protest—Zen Stylish Woman Award and Zen Stylish Men Award—into one that honoured both sexes on the same day. A store’s budget constraints may necessitate the conflation of events, but the economy of words in event naming may lead to ambiguity or comedy, neither, perhaps only rarely, the sibling of style!

Maybe Zen did intend to hand out stylish awards. So, did they?  If you were expecting gold-plated medals or crystal bowls, you would have been disappointed. Each recipient received an acrylic-encased card on which the event’s logo was positioned on the top left-hand corner and his or her photo on the right.

To honour the stylish , you must first be an arbiter of style. Don’t you agree?

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Bangkok (Tourism) Blues

I rose and shone, bright and early. I had what to me was the best egg Benedict in Bangkok. As it is often hard to find what can be considered breakfast food in this city, a dish of eggs and bread topped with Hollandaise sauce was instantly comforting and beautifully filling. On a table in front of the cashier, the Bangkok Post Sunday, a paper so thin it  rarely beckons, sat waiting to be picked. I was lured to a headline piece: “Tourist Complaints Already Exceed Last Year’s Total”. Now, my attraction to this was not because I was surprised; I only wanted to ascertain what I already knew.

Even without the figures quoted in the papers, I had suspected as early as 2008 that Krungthep  (in particular) is losing its appeal as a tourist destination. Sure, for many Westerners, this city is still 3rd-world enough to offer the kind of vacation romance that allows you to talk about it after you get home, and it has nothing to do with the shopping you did. How the tuk tuk driver charged you 200 baht to go from Soi Langsuan to MBK, how impassable to human traffic the BTS trains and stations have become, how the famous Thai smile  is quickly disappearing into the widespread urban insolence… these (and more) are as irascible and off-putting as the 1,518 complaints (0f which 681 were to do with theft, committed, interestingly less by vice operators than tourism service providers!) received by the Tourist Police Division between January and May. Yes, the tourists are still coming, as evidenced by the constantly congested Suvarnabhumi Airport (that’s another story altogether!), but do they want to come back?

Increasingly, Bangkok offers very little reasons for a repeat visit. As a friend from Hong Kong told me recently that since his first holiday in Bangkok 20 years ago, the city has nothing new to offer except shopping malls. There are the same attractions with nothing yet-to-be-seen and nothing yet-to-be-enjoyed in them, and, as he asked, “How many times do you want to go to the Grand Palace?”

The Bangkok Post report offers statistics not only on thefts, but also on those cases that saw tourists tricked into buying expensive jewellery in shops as well as complaints against tailors. While these retail hoodlums are not to be tolerated, those offering inferior goods in reputable establishments should not be let off either.

A Chinese friend who visited early this year bought some T- and polo shirts at Paragon Department Store. He tried the two styles on for size, and, liking them, asked for several in different colours, all in the size that fitted him. When he got home, all except one actually fit. The rest were too small. When he piled the garments on top of each other, he saw that they came in varying sizes (and shirt lengths!) although they were all tagged the same size.

If Paragon Department Store brands are allowed to get away with this, what’s there to stop the rest of them outside the Ratchaprasong shopping belt? Are devils quickly overtaking the City of Angels?

I shudder to think so.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Where Is Whisky?

Yes, it’s Whisky without the ‘e’.

But that’s not what struck me after reading Bangkok Post‘s profile on Wachirapanee Markdee. It is the lack of real insight into the interviewee that stood out. Writer Samila Wenin attempts to have us believe that Whisky stays off the radar despite a high profile job. In his professional description for Portfolios.Net, he lists himself as creative director as well as fashion stylist. Despite work that is hardly hidden from the industry, we’re told that we “don’t see him at fashion outings or press presentation, except for the one or two brands where he takes a liking to the PR officer”. Oh, Ms Wenin, where have you been? Or have you not taken a liking to certain PR officers?

The stylist for Praew and such is no recluse of the Bangkok fashion scene. Khun Whisky’s name is mentioned as often as he is spotted. Even Ms Wenin later admits that “you can’t really say you’re in the fashion circuit if you don’t know Whisky”. But let’s believe her; let’s say her subject is characterised by “regular absences from fashion gatherings”, and that we’re not in the fashion circuit. That would mean Khun Whisky is unexposed, and possibly an enigma to us. If so, why are we no better at knowing this individual after this Interview piece ?

What we got, instead, are mentions—sympathy and admiration—of others: fellow stylist Joy Ananda, designers Platt Srilalittsoi, Taned Boonprasarn, T-ra Chantasawsdi, Jirat Subpisankul, Chai Jeamamornrat, and Chatree Thengha of the misleading label Shaka London. Khun Whisky goes on to describe the pitiable state of these fashion designers’ professional life: “they grew from doing contest collections to commissioned work before setting up their own brands. We’re not born rich and we have been struggling all our lives. Some of us are just kids from provincial towns”. This could also describe much of Bangkok fashion practitioners: makeup artists, hair stylists, and also fashion stylists.

In the end, while we know almost nothing of Whisky, we’re given a picture of working in fashion in this city. Creativity knows no provincial boundaries nor does it only acknowledge economic might. If creativity is to be seeded in Bangkok, the soil welcomes the disadvantaged. And if you persevere, just as Whisky (and his cohorts) did and still do, you too could be “Thai fashion’s conceptual experimentalist”.

Whatever that is, will the real Whisky please stand up?

Photo: Bangkok Post

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Crooning That Screams

Image

Kloset is hardly a label that sings softly, yet it’s new shoe line, designed by Bloom Tripwattana, is called Croon. The first glimpse of this all-the-rage monochromatic pair suggests Fred Astaire, although I am more inclined to think of Gene Kelly (who croons!). Don’t let this product shot mislead you into thinking that the shoes are so humbly hued. The debut collection is not shy of colour despite the glitter. Those minus the kiltie look suspiciously like bowling shoes. But given their tri-colour combination, it would be hard to say, “strike”!

Photo: Croon

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Not Another Denim Shirt

It’s hard to resist denim shirts, just as it is difficult to ignore denim jeans. But since jeans have too strong a presence in the average male wardrobe, the shirt in denim—less omnipresent—can be a more refreshing obsession. After the recent dominance of the chambray shirt, it is, in fact, good to see the emergence of the unwashed denim shirt, such as this particular one at Adidas SLVR. Designed by Dirk Schönberger, it is a modern take on the Western shirt that is more appealing, given its unusual additional seam placement. It is slim-fitted too, thus reminding me of very early Dior Homme. I am not sure it will find many fans in Bangkok since the shirt is a little too structured (yes, stiff), but, given the form, it does make a good outer. You can save it for the cooler months on Khao Yai.

Available at Adidas SLVR, level 1, Siam Center

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Bank On Her?

When one of your tracks opened the Mugler men’s wear show in January, chances are, Nicola Formichetti will be on to you. And when that happens, Lady Gaga will take notice. When you’re invited to perform at the launch of Karl Lagerfeld’s new line (one more time) Karl, chances are, the folks at V mag will be on to you. And when that happens, you will appear in the pages of the publication. If that’s not enough, how about this: Terry Richardson has shot her for New York Time‘s T mag!

Azealia Banks’s route to fashion stratosphere is via Youtube, a platform so watched that going viral has completely no negative connotation it once had. And if you must know, it’s been viewed more than 4 million times as I write this. Her self-released track Bambi that first soundtracked the Mugler catwalk may evoke Disney cuteness but the lyrics are far from sweet or anything a 20-year-old may wish to sing. Her debut single 212, I have to admit, is an infectious dance number, but every line that she raps and sings is expletive-ridden (from the b-word to the f-word to a lot more others!). I sense anger in her words, but she mouths them as if auditioning for entry into music school. Her performance on video is almost too cute (that smile!), and the cut-off denims and vintage Mickey Mouse pullover she wears are as teeny as the clothes preferred by so many high-school-going girls. And they are disarming. If you’re lyric-deaf, you’ll not catch the gutter mouth.

The music industry took notice of her before the fashion world drop their drafting chalks to listen. BBC nominated her for Sound of 2012 (she came in third), and before that she sat at the apex of NME‘s ‘Cool List’ of last year.

Many people consider her lyrics crass. But so is a lot of fashion out there.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized