There’s a captivating charm to Nichapat Suphap that makes you want to get to know her. Whether it’s her dynamic personality, or the way she blends bubbly conviviality with a streak of bold determination, here’s what we know — barely five minutes into the interview, and she already had us hooked with a funny anecdote from the MET Gala. A regular at the likes of Paris Fashion Week and Cannes Film Festival, Nichapat is a familiar face in the global fashion scene, and is no stranger to star-studded red carpets or exclusive events.
A contributing editor at numerous globally-renowned publications and a luxury brand consultant, Nichapat is best known for being the MET Gala’s first ever Thai guest. Last year, she made headlines worldwide for her appearance on the MET Gala carpet — and in bespoke Peter Dundas, no less. The only way you could trump Nichapat is, really, by being the first Thai woman to attend the Met Gala twice — which, on May 6, 2019, was exactly what she did. Looking absolutely ‘Camp’ in a pastel candy floss-esque gown, Nichapat talked to us about partying with society’s finest, Met Gala dress fittings with Tomo Koizumi, and breaking boundaries to achieve her dreams. Here are a few things we learned about her.
Attending the Met Gala was her biggest dream.
“You know there are some girls who grow up wanting to have the most beautiful wedding. I was never one of those girls. I’m the girl who always dreamed of being at the MET,” Nichapat explains, with a lighthearted conviction that embodies much of her personality. A big one on her bucket list, she kept a vision board of all her life goals, and among them was attending the Met Gala.
“If you’re interested in fashion, this is it,” she tells us. “Anna Wintour, the editor-in-chief of Vogue US has to approve every single name that is invited — it’s a big deal, because she said no to a lot of people, even big models and celebrities.” Now her second time gracing the MET Gala carpet, Nichapat admits to being less excited than before, though still elated nonetheless. “I think it’s still a big deal, but my outlook just changed,” she explains, “last year was more about personal fulfillment. I didn’t care about the return of investment or anything like that, but that was also because I didn’t realise the aftermath would be so big.” Now aware of the influence she has garnered from her MET Gala appearance, Nichapat has her sights set on new goals.
“I got a lot of press out of it last year, both in Thailand and abroad. I was hoping to keep going every year — as long as I can afford it, of course,” she says with a laugh, noting that behind the bespoke gowns and flying back and forth was, as to be expected, a hefty bill she foots on her own.
“I would love to have my MET Gala dresses exhibited at a museum somewhere, because they’re all couture — completely one of a kind.” To her, the ultimate motive is to inspire. “I want my story to be out there to inspire at least one person. If we talk about fashion in Thailand, especially when I was growing up, things were very different. It wasn’t inclusive — you had to have a good last name, and be beautiful. If you were average, you didn’t get to be a part of this world – but now things have changed. I want to let people know that — it doesn’t matter if you’re just a kid from Nakhon Pathom with a big dream. Keep that big dream and one day it could really happen.”
She was the first person ever to wear custom Tomo Koizumi
Having worked her way to the A-list affair, Nichapat didn’t plan to hold back once the invite finally arrived. From extreme fitness regimes to what she wore, she went all out for everything, especially for the dress. “I could actually have borrowed an existing dress because I’m quite close to a lot of designers, but I didn’t want to borrow,” she says with a laugh. “I didn’t want to wear something that was off the rack. It meant so much to me, I wanted to wear something made for me — everything had to be perfect.”
When asked about how she came to choose designer Tomo Koizumi, she admits to initially being worried about the dress. “Last year, I worked with Peter Dundas, who’s my friend, and he was like my hero — whatever he did, I could do no wrong.” This year, she’d originally planned on making couture appointments during Paris Couture Week, but her final event confirmation arrived at the end of January, after the couture show. “I was starting to worry, thinking, ‘who could do my dress’, when suddenly this guy Tomo Koizumi just exploded out of nowhere,” she recalls, and it’s true. A breakout star from New York Fashion Week, Japanese designer Tomo Koizumi became a worldwide fashion sensation overnight — propelled to fame by a chance Instagram post of his work by Vogue Italia editor Sara Maino.
“People like Bella Hadid and Emily Ratajkowski walked his show, and he’s got the best PR agency in New York working for him. I saw his designs and was like, ‘wow, this is Camp’. So I emailed him with no expectations, and I was shocked because he responded right away. Before I knew it we scheduled to meet in New York for the first fitting.”
Her dress was truly custom-made, and she was very involved in the design
“At first I was nervous because I’m not tall enough for Tomo’s dresses,” Nichapat tells us with a frankness that makes her all the more authentic and charming. “I’m not tall or skinny, and his dresses aren’t made for an average woman’s body — If I wore a runway piece instead of something custom made, I would look puffy.”
“With the way his dresses are, I knew it would be tricky to pull off, so I worked very very closely with Tomo — it’s totally custom.” In fact, Nichapat initially wanted to play it much safer, and wasn’t planning for more than two to three colours on her dress. “I didn’t want to become a meme, so I said I preferred three colours maximum, and that’s what he did at the beginning.” But then she changed her mind. “I decided, let’s go rainbow because its Camp. We worked on everything — even the shades,” she explains, “he did the original colours at first and I would say, ‘let’s move this colour there and change this shade’, and so on.”
Despite Tomo Koizumi’s rapid rise to fame, Nichapat describes the rising talent as kind and incredibly humble. “He was so supportive throughout the process, and continued to be patient with me until the very end — and we really made changes until the very last minute,” she laughs as she recalls getting ready for the gala. “By that point, I loved the dress, but my makeup artist said, ‘oh, you can’t really see your waistline’. So what I did was, I took the belt Dundas made for me last year and used it with Tomo’s dress, because it was such a last minute decision. Then we even did some cuts to the dress before I made my way to the event.”
Her walks down the MET carpet are always eventful
“It seems like I got lucky this year because the carpet was in pastel pink, and it went really well with my dress,” she says happily, but then adds, “but you know, I got unlucky as well.” It seems Nichapat just can’t seem to avoid MET carpet happenings. “Last year, I was in line when suddenly Donatella Versace, who was one of the hosts, showed up from nowhere during my turn on the carpet. So this year, I went early and thought, okay I’m going to be fine — no one is here. Then, suddenly Harry Styles appeared and they cut the line in front of me, so it was another MET carpet moment where I just had to wing it.”
Though her carpet walk once again didn’t go exactly as planned, she was nowhere near as nervous as she was last year. “I’m not a freshman in school anymore,” she jokes, “I’m a sophomore now.” While entering the MET Gala for the first time was daunting, this year she felt more in control of the situation. “The PR on-site had to keep the carpet moving,” she explains, “so I couldn’t stall the carpet that much, but I think I did quite well. Last year I was really nervous, but this year I managed to go alone. I knew how things were going to go, and what was going to happen. I was definitely more prepared.”
She never wanted to be famous – she just wanted to have an eclectic group of friends.
“I didn’t set my sights on becoming influential, I just liked going to events.” Nichapat explains, and it is perhaps this lack of intention that propelled her to fame in the first place — cliché as it sounds, few things work as well as doing what you love and just being yourself. She likens the events to partying at an exclusive club, “The exclusivity of the whole thing was what really sold it for me. It’s like when you go to parties, you want to get into that special club, the one that’s kind of hard to enter. And once you’ve entered, you don’t want to go anywhere else anymore, because you know there are better nights out there.” She adds semi-jokingly, “now I get really addicted to attending all these events. When I don’t go, I get FOMO from seeing the photos on Instagram.”
To her, making headlines and appearing on various best-dressed columns was just an added perk, not the goal itself. All she wanted was a cool crowd to hang out with. “It sounds kind of contradictory to how things are now, but my goal was never to become famous. I wasn’t in it for the money, or power or any of that — from the start, my goal was just to be surrounded by a cool crowd and have an eclectic group of friends.”
Of course, it’s one thing to want to be friends with society’s finest — it’s a whole other thing to actually be accepted into the crowd. When asked how she so easily manages to befriend everyone, from top designers to key faces of Hollywood, Nichapat responds with a lighthearted laugh. “Actually I really don’t know!” She muses that it could be a personality thing. “I think I’m just fun to be around, and I try to help people when I can. Growing up, I liked to talk to people and I’ve always been one to help when I can, without expecting anything in return. But I’m actually very honest and straightforward as well, and this is a double-edged sword. Some people really value this and others don’t.”
But still, she believes friendship must be earned
When asked if she experienced any fangirl moments during the MET Gala, Nichapat was quick to say no. “It’s kind of sad, but these days I don’t get excited or anything because it’s just like, oh, they’re there. Part of the reason is because I’ve been going around to Fashion Week, to Cannes, and I’ve seen these people everywhere anyway so it becomes quite normal, you know.”
While she is definitely not one to squeal over a celebrity sighting, she is willing to take great lengths for those — celebrity status or otherwise — who have become her friends. She recognises that relationships — like most other things — require effort. “It’s not about connecting just to connect. You really have to build these relationships. Let’s say you and I both have 100 of the same phone numbers on our contact list, and we call them one by one. They won’t necessarily react to both of us the same way. It all depends on the influence you have on people, and the relationship you share. It’s one thing to know them, but how far are you willing to go for each other? How much can you rely on them, and can they rely on you?”
She used to be quite insecure — self-earned success made her confident.
I know it’s hard to believe because of the way I act and talk, but I’m actually a very shy person,” she admits. “Growing up in Thailand really beats up your confidence sometimes, because people can be kind of mean. If you’re fat, they call you out on it. Or if you have darker skin they call you black. They use words like “tua dum”, or “ouan”, and they make fun of you. It’s a very judgemental society, but we grew up in such an environment so we think it’s normal and we just accept it.”
Body-shaming in Thailand isn’t new news, and Nichapat openly discusses her issues with self-image as a child. “Everybody is beautiful in their own way, and even if someone doesn’t fit your definition of good looking or weighs a certain number, you shouldn’t ever call someone out on it. That’s mean. But in Thailand, it’s normal. It’s so instilled in your head, so that’s kind of the notion I had in my head all along — like, oh, I’m not pretty, all this. It’s really, really hard to remove that from your head.”
The way she managed to get rid of those negative, toxic thoughts was through hard work, and the success that she managed to earn because of it. She talks about moving to the States for grad school, and going from Macy’s to Bloomingdales to where she is now. “Going from someone so unknown to someone big is a really big achievement in my life. It’s because this is all self-made — it’s not like I grew up with a privileged family, it’s all me. And nobody else has achieved what I have achieved before, so this success is a key source of my confidence.”
She doesn’t believe in conforming to expectations.
“Growing up, I never fit into any stereotypes,” Nichapat says simply, and in the competitive society we live in today, her story is one a lot of us can relate to. “I wasn’t beautiful, I couldn’t play sports, dance or sing. I never got to be a cheerleader, I wasn’t selected to perform in any shows — or for anything. And growing up, I always wondered why I was such a talentless person.”
“The only thing I did well was school, so I focused on it because that was the easiest thing for me. I think because of that, it made me hustle more,” she explains. “Then one day, I realised that the talent I have is an incomparable skill that very few people have.” She recalls the time she first moved to the States, and the conversation takes on a serious undertone as she brings up the tougher days. “It was had for me because to survive and get a job, I had to at least start from zero, but I wasn’t even that — when I first arrived I was a minus. I didn’t go to school in the States, and I couldn’t speak English. Kids in Thailand also weren’t taught to take the initiative, or to be creative, so when I arrived everyone around me had really different mindsets and different thoughts.”
The moral of this story? Just keep going. “My point is,” she says, “don’t get discouraged if you don’t know who you are yet. It’s a process and it takes time, and one day, as you learn more about yourself, you will develop a talent and a skill that’s yours.” To Nichapat, freedom is breaking free from these societal expectations that often hold you back. “Don’t try to fit into a stereotype — you don’t need to have lighter skin, or be a lawyer or an engineer. Don’t do that if you don’t like it.” She offers a piece of advice close to heart. “Just do what you love. Don’t think about the money — when you get really good at what you love, one day the money will come on its own. I know growing up in Thailand, there are certain expectations, but the world has changed. You can just sit at home and make a lot of money because of social media — find your own path.”
At a time when everyone has their own message to share, she wants hers to inspire.
“I’m the type of person where, if one door doesn’t open for me, I’ll climb through the window. I don’t take no for an answer.” Nichapat hopes that her success can be an inspiration to young girls, and show that you can achieve anything as long as you put your mind to it. “I’m not a celebrity,” she says matter-of-factly, “I’m not stunningly pretty, I’m not any of those things. I’m just a normal girl on the street, who just wanted to go to the MET Gala and made it. I feel like if you are really determined, there’s no such thing as impossible — you can always be the first person who paves the way for everybody else to follow.”
Now an online sensation with a huge Instagram following, Nichapat is well aware of the influence she has, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of social media. “Most people just want to show other people how fabulous their lives are, how rich they are, how pretty they are and how great their lives are going. But what good do those kind of messages really do for society? The message I want to put out there is to believe in yourself and never give up — not on yourself, and definitely not on your dreams.”