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Heights of fashion

Words: David Leck
Feb 10, 2019

Heights of fashion

Words: David Leck
Feb 10, 2019 · 26 Views

Style-conscious eyes are on the UK capital this month as London Fashion Week rolls into town. As an international centre of creativity, the city has also been integral to the careers of some of Thailand’s most significant design talents.
 

Think of colourful cities in February and London might not spring instantly to mind. For a few days though, amidst daylight-starved days and a confection of falling temperatures, drizzling rain and possibly a dusting of snow, the British capital takes centre-stage in the international fashion world.

As one of the industry’s four annual set-pieces (the others being Paris, Milan and New York), London Fashion Week (LFW) first strutted down the catwalk in 1983. The biannual event now showcases the work of around 150 British and international designers to a global audience of influential media and retailers.

Attended by more than 5,000 fashion buyers and press, it’s estimated LFW can generate orders upwards of GBP100 million and, although primarily an industry-facing event, it ends with the London Fashion Week Festival that is open to the general public.

“London used to be fourth in line to the title of fashion capital of the world – after Milan, Paris and New York – but it can now claim to be the most fashionable city,” says Kath Brown, a highly respected UK magazine editor who has helmed a number of titles, currently Woman & Home.

“While the world's best art colleges attract the most innovative fashion students, the incredible creative diversity – from street style to tailoring, couture to big brands – makes LFW the most important event on the global fashion calendar. Although what you see on the catwalk and, even more so on the street outside the shows, may be at the extreme end of design, the ideas inspire what we all wear. Retailers are very much influenced by what they see at LFW.”

The pull of London on a global scale is undeniable and the international element of the showrooms that make up LFW demonstrates the doors to the city are truly open to the international community. This month, designers from Australia, China, Dubai, Europe and South Korea will all showcase their latest creations.

Hywel Davies is programme director of fashion at Central Saint Martins (CSM), one of the most respected art colleges in the world. Its alumni include Stella McCartney, Dior Menswear’s Kim Jones, and Burberry’s Riccardo Tisci.

“Around 40 per cent of our students are international and 50 per cent of designers who show at London Fashion Week attended CSM,” explains Davies.

“We are fortunate many of our alumni work internationally. This creates a global network of professionals who return to us when recruiting new talent, thereby creating a circular support network. London has a fine tradition of celebrating diversity. Our philosophy of recognising and supporting the individual is integral to our success in producing brilliant graduates.”
 

Bangkok-born Mook Vinyaratn graduated from CSM with a Bachelor of Arts in woven textiles. She has since notched up a series of awards and prominent commissions including work at the Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles in the Thai capital’s Grand Palace.

“CSM was – and still is – the UK’s top art and design school and it was very difficult to get a place. I went to boarding school in England where I developed an interest in fashion design and CSM was the only college I wanted to attend so I worked really hard to secure a place,” says Vinyaratn, currently design director of Beyond Living (beyond-living.com)

How would she describe her work and why does she feel London maintains an enduring place at the forefront of fashion?

“My work has multiple layers and dimensions, very colourful and highly textured. People often ask what kind of materials I favour but I like to make unexpected choices and every piece I create has its own story to tell. London is a wonderful source of inspiration because everywhere you look you see the influences of so many different cultures. You see it in how people dress, the colours, street life, in the parks, and especially at all the museums and galleries. If I could, I would go all the time to Tate Modern, the Victoria & Albert Museum, the Saatchi Gallery and Barbican Centre,” adds Vinyaratn.

London Fashion Week takes place from 15 – 19 February. It’s followed by the two-day London Fashion Week Festival (londonfashionweekfestival.com) that is open to the general public.

 

Patcharavipa

Patcharavipa (Pat) began crafting jewellery at the age of 13 before going on to study at Central Saint Martins (CSM) and launching her Bangkok and London-based business.

“CSM is one of the leading art schools in the world and was the only one I had my sights set on,” says Pat who prides herself on the unexpected nature of her creations that change with the season – and her mood – and in which she invests a lot of thought into how the technical considerations of jewellery sit on the body.

“London is dynamic and open to so many cultures. I love splitting my time between the UK and Bangkok. I’m truly inspired by the two different places, whether that’s from skin tone and hair colour to how I see people talk to each other in airports. Jewellery doesn’t have limits – its unisex and because it’s so interlinked with art and the use of materials and techniques, it’s always evolving.”

patcharavipa.com 
 

O Thongthai

O Thongthai started making jewellery in her teens and is now a high-profile name in Thailand having seen her work featured in advertising campaigns for several major brands.


“Most people come to me for bespoke rings”, says O who is known for her distinctive approach to contemporary work blending masculine and feminine influences.

“My work is pretty edgy, contemporary and quite personalised but I’m also really lucky to be able to source the best quality gems and raw materials from Thailand. I’m constantly inspired by how the kingdom’s temples and all they represent remains such an integral part of Thai design and culture.”


Like Patcharavipa, O studied in London and spends as much time in the city as her schedule allows. “London is like a home-from-home,” she says. “It’s easy to get around, so I love visiting the Victoria & Albert Museum, eating at La Petite Maison in Bond Street, exploring the designer section and food hall in Selfridges and browsing through Sunbury Antiques Market.”

othongthai.com

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