Conversation With: Thakoon Panichgul
Juxtaposing 18th Century French court silhouettes with African-inspired prints and vivid Nouveau Realist color resulted in one of the most covetable collections this Fall. Think modern colorblocking combinations – Yves Klein blue and crimson red. Sporty details. Yet always appropriate for a lady, even a First Lady, as Michelle Obama has demonstrated over the years.
Seven years after conceiving his ready-to-wear collection, designer Thakoon Panichgul has a cult following and three separate collections – Thakoon, Addition and Carbon Copy. Known for his modern reinventions, bold colorful prints and ethnic references, which seems only natural for someone who was born in Thailand, raised in Omaha and now New York-based. I caught up with Panchigul just before he debuted his Spring 2012 collection in New York.
NM: Where does the design process start for you?
TP: Ideas of specific silhouettes usually set the tone for the season. I like to play around with the combination of shapes with different fabrics and prints.
NM: You were an early adopter of mismatched prints. How do you continue to move forward in this realm?
TP: I like to think of a lot of my prints as non-prints. When you look at it you don’t see the print; it becomes a part of the garment.
NM: When you were growing up in Thailand and Omaha, did your mother enjoy fashion or encourage you in that way?
TP: She did in the fact that she had a young energy and sense of style, but my love of fashion was more born from boredom and an obsession with fashion magazines.
NM: You have a way of making ethnic associations connect to American woman in a sporty, beautiful way. Do you think like this when you are designing clothes?
TP: It’s really an unintentional approach, and it comes about more naturally than anything else. I also like the vibrant colors, which are often so prevalent in ethnic prints.
NM: What do you think about street style today and the influence of fashion bloggers?
TP: I’ve always had an interest in street style, and I think bloggers have just gave it a bigger stage. If you’re from a small town today it’s much easier to see what people are wearing on the streets of New York/Paris/London. There’s more global awareness.
TP: Not at all. It was really an organic growth that stemmed from a desire to offer a more casual approach to the Thakoon aesthetic. The three lines act as a complement to each other.
NM: What is one of your most proud moments in fashion?
TP: Seeing Mrs. Obama in my dress at the Democratic National Convention is definitely on that list. It was a historical moment that signified so much change, and her commitment to supporting new emerging designers was incredible.
NM: Describe, in detail, a space where you feel most comfortable to create.
TP: My work studio is pretty cozy — it’s like my second home!
Thakoon Panichgul will appear at Neiman Marcus Beverly Hills on November 18.
Shop Thakoon on neimanmarcus.com and select Neiman Marcus stores.