Glamour galore at the Bangkok International Fashion Week 2017
The clicking of cameras, cocktails in every hand, live DJs and music and, of course, a glittery, polished, and designer brand-sporting crowd… welcome to the 2017 Bangkok International Fashion Week (BIFW), which this year ran from March 21st to 26th at Siam Paragon, Siam Center, and Siam Discovery simultaneously. It was a visual feast, celebrating the creativity of new and established Thai and international designers. Attendees—ranging from fashionistas, aspiring designers, fashion editors, sponsors, and more—gathered in a waiting area surrounded by brand boutiques from the likes of Chanel and Louis Vuitton, enjoying interviews with fashion heavyweights such as Chinese-born Guo Pei and Thailand’s Polpat Asavaprapha (Asava), snapping photos of themselves with industry celebrities at the press wall, and viewing the rotating fashion collections on display in search of inspiration.
Predictably, some of the runway shows held at Parc Paragon were fashionably late. It was not uncommon to wait for half-an-hour in long lineups where attendees stood decked out with statement handbags, colourful jumpsuits, and floral print blazers—choices that mirrored the pieces unveiled on the runway. This year, it was all about looking distinguished yet sophisticated, as Thai designers mixed classic pieces, like pantsuits and evening gowns, with bold textiles and tropical prints, drawing on design elements from Asian and European culture, and creating narratives influenced by the designers’ own travels and the ever-evolving Thai fashion landscape.
The capacity crowds were charged with anticipation for each new show, each new model trotting down the runway, and each new dimming of the lights or change of rhythm in the largely hip hop, electronic, and traditional-based runway soundtracks. The pieces modelled by Thai celebrities got the most reception, which speaks to the strong influence of celebrity culture in Thailand’s fashion scene. Here a photo or two of someone famous wearing a piece from a designer’s new collection can spark fashion trends overnight.
“They still dress more formally compared to Europe or North America,” remarked an international attendee from Russia. Perhaps this is due to the strong influence of Western design aesthetics, which translated into a lot of formalwear bases, which Thai designers have made unique through the use of Thai silk, symbols from Asian folklore, and traditional embroideries and design elements. But this is just one opinion. Other international attendees, such as the woman in a white, gold-buckled Asava dress, who came specifically to support her favourite designer. Asava’s “feminine design” and “quality materials” are closet staples that can be worn year-round, dressed up or down with accessories to stand out in a refined way—a welcome break from the fast fashion trends abroad.
The fashion industry in Thailand is thriving, and rising Thai designers were given the extra push at this year’s event. In Siam Center, young Thai designers displayed their work, which was described by attendees as “fresh” and “unique”, with some even preferring the designs of these up-and-comers to those of existing brands.
Bangkok International Fashion Week is only in its 10th year, but growth has been impressive, with more diversity amongst attendees, more innovations (BIFW 2017 could be viewed worldwide through 360° live broadcasts), and more progressive, dynamic designs that tell the stories of a traditional, modern, and future Thailand.
Words by Millie Ho Photos by Vincent Sung / lefluxasia.com