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Dressed by Doi Tung

lifestyle November 09, 2017 01:00

By KUPLUTHAI PUNGKANON
THE NATION

2,365 Viewed

Two events at Siam Paragon remember the dedication of Her Royal Highness Princess Srinagarindra, the Princess Mother



BHUBAWIT KRITPHOLNARA, creative director and owner of Thai fashion brand Issue, has very fond memories of Her Royal Highness Princess Srinagarindra, the mother of the late King Bhumibol Adulvadej, or the Princess Mother as she was formally known.

“I watched a video that showed the Princess Mother, then in her 80s and with completely white hair, stepping down from a helicopter on her way to help people in Thailand’s northernmost region. It made me realise what humans are capable of doing and inspired me to follow in her footsteps,” says Bhubawit, who along with seven other leading artists and designers is taking part in the second “Doi Tung and Friends 2017” project. The event, which runs until November 20 at Siam Paragon’s Fashion Hall, also features Sombatasara Teerasaroch, Kullawit Laosuksri, editor-in-chief of Vogue Thailand, Jirat Suppisankul, owner of Sanshaii brand, Mollika Ruangkritya and Nat Mangkang of Kloset brand, and actor Gunn Svasti na Auytthaya. 

“Doi Tung and Friends” is not the only celebration of the late Princess Srinagarindra’s life. The Mae Fah Luang Foundation under Royal Patronage, Siam Piwat and Thai Beverage are also preparing to launch “Remembering …The Late Princess Mother”, the 20th edition of this exhibition, which runs from Wednesday through November 19 in the shopping centre’s Lifestyle Hall on the theme “Cultivate Forest, Cultivate People, Sustainability Way”. Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn will formally open the exhibition on November 17 at 6pm. 

The Doi Tung and Friends project, which also falls under the Mae Fah Luang Foundation, was a great success last year, with shoppers flocking to admire and snap up the more than 50 handcrafted products from leading designers and tribal artisans from Doi Tung. Proceeds from sales revenue after deduction of expenses will be used to develop the potential of 

 people in the Doi Tung Development Project and support the other extension projects of the foundation.

Bhubawit, who specialises in embroidered and oriental style enhancements, says he was amazed by the richness of the crafts during his visit to Doi Tung. 

“Each piece is very detailed. But some villagers told me that without many members of the younger generation around, they won’t be able to pass down their know-how so they need our help to develop the product and to inspire younger people to take up these crafts so they are not lost in time. So I designed a shirt and a bag with a cross-stitched print motif inspired by the pastime of Princess Mother and presented a ceramic moulding in a pattern to reflect happiness, love, and nature. The stitching and embroidery on the fabric gives the items a contemporary look,” he adds. 

Sombatsara is also proud to help promote the talents of Doi Tung craftsmen to the urban crowd. “This year, we’ve designed a bag as part of the Original is Forever collection. It’s based on the handbags that are used for everyday life in the hills and comes in black and at an affordable price. 

Kullawit has continued his collaboration with the Untitled collection, 

 which produces handmade Doi Tung handbags. Decorated with leather for a more modern design, the totes can be used by both men and women. 

Jirat choose a linen-and-cotton blend in natural dye for his Kramm collection, which features women’s separates and accessories including a reversible jacket, a summer Peacoat, casual kaftan, trousers, hats, bags and shoes. 

Designers Mollika and Nat greatly 

 admire the support given by the Princess Mother to the Doi Tung villagers and want to continue her work.

“Our aim is help people develop, have a job, and mark-up their craft value. We’ve incorporated the elaborate details in our women's clothing collection called Wild Orchid, which focuses on cutting in a flutter shape similar to an orchid’s petals,” says Nat

For her part, Mollika has created a classic mulberry paper lamp. “I’ve always love the touch of paper with different textures. I’ve heard that the mulberry paper factory in Doi Tung might be closed because no one uses this paper anymore. So I tried to think what I could do. After doing some research, I found it was perfect for a lamp that has a ceramic base made within the project,” she says. 

Gunn wants to be the voice that communicates to the new generation Doi Tung’s natural values as well as its crafts and is conveying his message through a free-form ceramic collection that includes teacups, coffee sets, vases and home d้cor accessories.

The once barren hillsides of Doi Tung mountains are now covered with a lush canopy providing sustainable income to many people while serving as a university where those interested can learn, and it is this success the “Remembering …The Late Princess Mother” exhibition aims to celebrate.

“The exhibition is the presentation of the late Princess Mother’s work that emphasised people-centric development and the sustainable wellbeing of tribal communities. We hope that her loving-kindness towards the Thai people will be recognised and applied in our daily lives for our own good, particularly her ideas and practices in nature preservation,” explains Thanpuying Butree Veeravaitaya, Secretary-General of Mae Fah Luang Foundation under Royal Patronage.

The exhibition features several different sections. 

The “Royal Mother from the Sky” 

 zone narrates the story of the late Princess Mother who was affectionately called “Mae Fah Luang” by the hilltribes who would see her step down from a helicopter along with food, clothing, other essentials, medical personnel and supplies to help improve the lives of rural people. 

This section portrays her journey since the early 1960s when she visited remote mountainous areas that were only accessible by helicopter and learnt about their hardship. From then on, she devoted herself to improving the living conditions of rural Thais, particularly the ethnic minorities and underprivileged groups. Several foundations under Royal Patronage were set up over the years to systematically tackle the ethnic minorities’ poverty and lack of opportunity, among them the Princess Mother's Medical Volunteer Foundation (PMMV) and the Mae Fah Luang Foundation. 

The “Compassion” zone showcases the late Princess Mother’s support for education. Observing that people in the remote areas suffered from a severe shortage of teachers and schools, she fully supported the Border Patrol Police’s initiative in establishing schools, providing contributions from her personal funds, presiding at the inaugurations of those schools and inviting her acquaintances to support the building of more than 400 schools. 

To sustainably raise the living standard of the local hill tribe villagers, the late Princess Mother established the Hill Tribes Products Promotion Foundation. Later, with the aim of promoting and supporting the handiwork of the hilltribes, she decided to incorporate the foundation under her supervision and changed its name to the Mae Fah Luang Foundation. 

The “Cultivating People” section portrays the late Princess Mother’s belief in the importance of education. Realising that the hilltribes products were not selling due to a lack of marketing and problem-solving skills, she initiated a project to provide not only quality education but also skills training, social etiquette, and eco-consciousness.

The stories of former hilltribe students whose lives were transformed by the education and training provided in the Mae Fah Luang Garden are told in the “Growing Seedlings” zone while the “Cultivating Forests” section depicts her vision to reforest Doi Tung. In line with her pledge, "I shall plant forests on Doi Tung," she initiated the Doi Tung Development Project in 1987 with the objectives of recreating the watershed forests, promoting balanced use and protection of natural resources while upgrading the standard of living of local people. Over the years, the holistic problem-solving schemes of Doi Tong Development Project have successfully prevented the slash-and-burn system of cultivation and promoted agricultural development in a systematic manner.

  GREAT GIFTS, MARVELLOUS MEMENTOES

- Products are priced between Bt900 and Bt8,500.

- Find out more at Facebook.com/DoiTungClub.