All photos by Giancarlo Galavotti at @gc.galavotti
12 years ago, Bangkok’s fashion enthusiasts rejoiced at the much-awaited debut of Bangkok International Fashion Week — aka BIFW. Fast-forward to today, and what initially began as an initiative to promote local designers and introduce global names has become a key fixture in the local fashion calendar. Held at the end of last month, the 2019 edition of Bangkok International Fashion Week took a bold leap from offering just fashion shows alone, resulting in an all-things-fashion related phenomenon for all. Offering a platform for designers and fashion people to exchange ideas and inspiration, as well as a chance for people to appreciate the work of local talents, this year’s BIFW also provided a stage for young, aspiring designers to showcase their work — a key step in propelling the Thai fashion industry into the future.
The result was four days spent celebrating 15 incredible design talents, bringing together the latest collections from some of the biggest names in the Thai fashion scene. While BIFW 2019 has passed, we can’t help but miss the glitzy march of stilettos, the opulent swathes of silk and the frevent flashing of camera lights. For those of you who are feeling a wee bit nostalgic, we’ve put together the event’s key highlights, to make you feel like you’re there again. We will also be gradually releasing full galleries of several shows from the event over the span of the week, so stay tuned on our space.
When Vatanika and Self-Portrait put the ‘International’ in BIFW 2019
- When it comes to BIFW, many often overlook that it is in fact Bangkok International Fashion Week — meaning a showcase of both local and global designers alike. This year, Vatanika Patamasingh na Ayudhya and Han Chong (of UK-based Self-Portrait) made sure BIFW 2019’s global element was far from forgotten, kicking off the affair with their first-ever collaborative show ‘After the Lovers’.
- Formerly school friends at Central Saint Martins, today the two designers are making waves in the fashion scene — Vatanika with her eponymous Thai-based brand, and Han Chong with his globally-acclaimed brand Self-Portrait. In an exclusive interview with Prestige, the two had promised an impressive surprise for BIFW 2019, and impress they did — blending the fun femininity of Self-Portrait with Vatanika’s confident allure. The result was a close reflection of the two designers, both of whom have long been advocates of an understated dare-to-be-you. Let’s also not forget the set design, where the runway was split down the middle by a striking mirror, so that as the models walked down both sides they appeared to be walking alongside themselves.
When Issue Blew us Away with a Blend of Bold, Brave and Beautiful
There is something to be said about the way Issue masters the art of graphic prints — taking the flamboyant and the flashy, and showing that it is possible for extravagance and sophistication to go hand in hand. As with a lot of Issue’s collections, the designs have a flair for sophisticated panache — opulent without reaching the point of ostensible; flamboyant, but never coming with the crudeness one might expect.
- While the show walks a fine line between cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation, we can’t help but marvel at the daring use of colours, as well as the way classic — dare we say, bland — everyday pieces such as the common blazer are given new life through Issue’s adventurous and undaunted adaptations.
When Paprakas Reminded Us that Fashion can be Fun
While fun can mean different things in fashion — whether it’s playful prints or daring hues. Then we have the Paprakas kind of fun — eclectic, fantastical designs presented through an entertaining dance-like performance.
As the models started up their dance routine, throwing their arms in the air and moving effortlessly to the beat, it was difficult not to want to join in, and naturally a lot of smiles could be spotted amongst the audience. As designer Paprakas Angsusingha himself says, “a smile is the best make up any girl or boy can wear’. Yes, Paprakas, we totally agree.
When Nagara Gave us a Walking Exhibition of Japanese Art
Even before the show began, we were ready for performance that would blur the lines between fashion and the arts. Nagara Sambandaraksa of his eponymous brand has long been praised for his unique use of Thai silk and prints to bring together elements of East and West, old and new. For BIFW 2019, Nagara unveils ‘The Floating World’, once again drawing inspiration from Japanese masters of the past.
Through the collection, we were transported back to the worlds of Katsushika Hokusai and Kansai Yamamoto. The artists works were reinterpreted through the signature style of Nagara, accentuated with bold hand-painted patterns, detailed embroideries on long silk robes and even exquisite details of Brocade on fabric.
When Milin Front Row Won Us Over with Womenswear
Milin Front Row — Milin’s exclusive tailor-made line — has always gone all-out to make its female devotees feel special. Blending the brand’s signature styles with classic cuts and dramatic silhouettes, there is a sense of sophistication that emerges from the combinations of sequins, mesh and lace.
When Pichita Showed Us What it Means to Wear a Hat
Among the shows at Bangkok International Fashion Week 2019 that managed to go above and beyond expectations was Pichita’s ‘The Golden Hour’ — a reminder that perhaps the key to success does lie in the details. Taking its dessert theme seriously with a sand-strewn catwalk and safari-esque motifs, Pichita kept us glued through the little things — like sand trickling out of the handbags — and then proceeded to blow us away with the big.
Enter Pichita’s hats for the season. Loud, lavish and unabashedly unafraid, the large flowing designs are a statement in itself: if you’re going to wear a hat, you should wear a hat. By far our favourite was the final headpiece, an intricate structure that trailed water as model Matcha Mosimann sported it down the runway. Perhaps not the most practical of hats ever, but for impact at a fashion show? Definitely the best.
When Tube Gallery Gave us A Finale We Could Never Forget
When we saw that Vatanika and Self-Portrait were set to headline the opening show of BIFW 2019, many of us had our sights set solely on the beginning — little did we know that the finale too would end with a bang. As minimalist styles begin to reign supreme in the fashion scene, Tube Gallery has always begged to differ with their maximalist philosophy of “more is more” — their show for BIFW 2019 was no different.
Unveiling a line of new designs that celebrate the brand’s illustrious 20th anniversary, designers Phisit Jongnarangsin and Saksit Pisalsupongs gave us show-stopping outfits, complemented by what can only be described as majestic — and unflappably opulent — headpieces. We can still remember the moment Metinee Kingpayom walked out with the final look, and when all the final walk quickly morphed into a stunning dance show, featuring guest singer Gam Wichayanee as one of the models, and gradually escalating from there into a full-blown afterparty. Really, there couldn’t have been a better end.
To see more of Bangkok International Fashion Week 2019, visit siamparagon.co.th.