As part of Singapore Fashion Week, which ended on May 17, several fashion talks were held at Lasalle College of the Arts. Here are some things we learnt from a session with Thai-American designer Thakoon Panichgul.
1. Panichgul was a runner-up at the 2006 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Awards. Among the things he won were a car and a mentorship with Mark Lee, then the CEO of Gucci (he is now with Barneys). He describes the process - stepping into a room with 10 judges, including Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) president Diane von Furstenberg, Vogue editor Anna Wintour and CFDA chief executive Steven Kolb - as "really the most terrifying moment for any designer".
2. He has a brother who is 13 months older. Panichgul says he was always coordinating their outfits when they were little - the start of his styling ways.
3. Vogue editor Sally Singer was one of his early supporters. He met her and got her opinion on a few pieces he created when he was contemplating launching his label, even though he was working as a writer at Harper's Bazaar at the time. His first few stockists were Chicago boutique Ikram, New York shop Kirna Zabete and e-tailer Net-A-Porter.
4. One of the pitfalls for new designers is being thrust into the limelight and not knowing what to do, he says. He has had business partner Maria Borromeo since the start to help handle the business end of things.
5. Panichgul is not a big sketcher. He describes his drawings as chicken scratch. Rather, he selects fabrics and is more garment- and construction-focused during his fashion design process. For instance, he will take a sleeve and try matching it with different tops.
6. His advice to young designers is to ask themselves: "Do I want to be a designer or do I want to be famous?" In this selfie age, everyone seems to be after fame. "It's so boring!" he says. "Don't you want to have a talent, too?"
This article was first published on May 29, 2015.
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