The new Sirivannavari clothing line is imaginative, innovative and utterly romantic
The soothing sound of waves lapping at a shore resonated in the air at Siam Paragon on Wednesday night. A vast, dramatic projected image of a full moon above the blue ocean provided the backdrop as the Royal Bangkok Symphony Orchestra and a full choir – 80 members in all – performed a suite of songs about a sea goddess and the mortal man she loves.
This was the setting for the unveiling of a marvellous line of spring-summer clothing and accessories designed by Her Royal Highness Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana.
His Majesty the King’s daughter conceived and helped make the stunning outfits and wrote both a poem and a minor symphony titled “Serenity”, about the doomed romance of the immortal goddess and her all-too-human paramour. All her efforts were amply rewarded in the magnificent presentation in the darkened Royal Paragon Hall.
When the spotlights broke through the dreamy dimness of an ocean-cruise night, the parade of models began – a cascade of 48 different looks for women and six more for men.
The womenswear the Princess created for her Sirivannavari label evoked the goddess she’d imagined in poetry and song, while her S’Homme men’s line was meant to bring to life the mortal male who became the goddess’ warm and sensitive lover.
“Serenity” was performed in four parts – “Prelude”, “The Sound of His Voice”, “Her Desire” and “The End” – its themes of desire, romance, anticipation and the passage of time echoing those of the spring-summer collection.
The tale concerns a memorable journey by sea and romance blossoming, only to end in tragedy beneath the moon and stars. Princess Sirivannavari explained that, last year, she’d written the poem from which all this additional creativity “unexpectedly” stemmed.
“I found it quite astonishing to translate this poem into a fashion collection,” she said. “The details in the collection explain the whole story – the fluid and feminine silhouettes, the tailoring technique escalating the ultra-feminine touch and the exquisite embroidery.
“My intent was to keep this collection simple, since simplicity is tastefully elegant. One can always find something interesting and sophisticated in simplicity, as can be seen from the asymmetrical draped Greek Goddess dress in silk jersey and the Japanese woodcut-printing technique I spent months creating.”
The all-white Greek Goddess halter dress was indeed the evening’s showstopper. Asymmetrical draping and impeccably embroidered tulle fabric made other outfits stand out as well. Also amazing were a flared “flamingo” skirt and a biker jacket paired with a delicate tulle top and distressed biker jeans.
The wonderful embroidery work included crystal beads on a biker coat, a poem on the tulle top and the label’s gold-thread-embellished peacock crest on another jacket.
Graphic prints made other pieces shine, the patterns including waves, the moon and stars, marine life and the signs of the zodiac. The Princess spent months applying Japanese woodcut-style motifs, her favoured peacock among them.
The embroidery did indeed stand out. The classic French style merged with a contemporary rendition of the traditional Thai beadwork as seen on khon costumes. In this she had the help of renowned jeweller Prayuth Sirikul.
Prayuth learned the art of costume embroidery from National Artist Chakrabhand Poshayakrit and the French style from Tokyo’s Lemmikko: Artisan de la Broderie d’Art.
Following the example of her grandmother, Her Majesty the Queen, in fostering Thai craftsman- ship through the introduction of modern design, the Princess opened the Sirivannavari School to help develop artisans’ skills and preserve traditional practices and knowledge.
“I’d like Thai craftsmen to learn all the various processes used, along with innovative techniques and creative design,” she told Vogue magazine’s Thai edition.
With the summer season, the collection is enlivened with sky blue, navy blue, cream and pastel pink, along with classic black and white.
Her Bijoux collection carries on the same theme, with star necklaces and ear cuffs, an enamelled ring bearing an “S” logo and earrings with lapis crescents. A tiara is adorned with mother-of-pearl, a star choker with a veritable chandelier of gold chain, and a pearl body chain with coral.
The women’s beachwear the Princess created is quite sexy with its revealing cut-outs and at the same time elegant with custom-made Swarovski crystals. A printed bathrobe for both men and women catches the eye with piping.
The leather goods include a city bag embellished with a peacock, freshwater pearls and gold tassels, a red clutch in lizard or alligator leather with coral-gold metal and pearls, and a cotton unisex pochette with nautical stripes.
For the shoes, the focus is on sandals, both wedges and flats of woven straw. Leather gladiator boots are designed to go with the Greek Goddess evening dress.
The S’Homme line for men comprises luxe looks such as a three-piece mourning suit in wool with the gold embroidery that looks great over tapered trousers. The embroidered peacock adorns slip-ons. Double-breasted jackets with zippers in the front panels were seen, along with a striped trench coat also in wool, sailor-stripe slip-ons and a clutch made of cotton canvas.
Of her inspiring poem and the musical suite “Serenity” that derived from it, the Princess explained that the romance she imagined between a mortal and a goddess was natural enough in its origins, but at the same time “went against nature”.
“That’s why the poem has a tragic ending,” she said. “The gentleman dies of old age, whereas the goddess is immortal – and yet she is devastated by the loss and will suffer a broken heart eternally.”
The song suite concludes “In silence, in the moment of fulfilment, where love lasts forever and shall prevail eternally in peacefully silence.”
Wednesday’s 34-minute show ended with a single model in a bride’s lace wedding gown. As she finished her solitary walk up and down the catwalk, she turned again to lead the entire troupe of models wearing all 54 looks in the collection.
The spotlights were briefly extinguished, and then the Princess appeared, clad in another outfit of her own design – elegant, embroidered biker blue jeans and a see-through blouse over a silk corset. She gave a wai and placed her hand over her heart before bowing deeply.
The applause was thrilling, and grew even louder when the Princess turned and endearingly gestured to the orchestra, keen to share the glory of a memorable evening.