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Not so loud in 2012

Jan 09. 2012
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Can fashion be subtler and still pack power? Consider the Iron Lady of British politics

In terms of fashion trends to watch this year, watch Margaret Thatcher. No doubt thanks to Meryl Streep’s portrayal of the former British PM in “The Iron Lady”, Baroness Thatcher’s clothing habits will provide the “style icon” for 2012, according to Adisak Rojsiriphan, the designer at Bangkok togs house Zenithorial.

 “The ’80s lady look of Thatcher will be strong for fashion this year, with dresses more conservative but not old-fashioned,” Adisak says. “Many renowned designers have infused their collections with this silhouette in modern interpretations.”

Power suits, perhaps, but the same presumably does not apply to the Maggie Thatcher puffed-up hairdo. However, we’ll wait and see.

As to other hot items for the coming year, Adisak forecasts less bright colours, more of the “tribal look” and greater prominence for floral and arty prints. His predictions are sound, given what Marc Jacobs, DKNY, Diane Von Furstenberg and Thakoon have already put on the runway for the coming spring and summer.

Jacobs added to his image as the world’s most influential designer with his recent New York and Paris Fashion Show outfits for Marc by Marc Jacobs and Louis Vuitton.

Why does every items of apparel have prints all over it these days? The success, Adisak says, is in large part due to the technological advances in computer graphics and the printing itself. Clothes can now display far more detail and more expressive colours.

But psychedelic hues will be put back in the closet this year in favour of subtler shades, according to Adisak. The colours will be natural yet still cheerful, like tangerine orange and pistachio green.

Thailand’s clothing horses will not be disappointed, he says. “Thai fashion labels are certainly influenced by the international trends,” he notes. “At the very least they have to import the fabric. Making a difference will rely on each designer’s print inspirations.”

Thai-American Thakoon Panichgul, who’s based in New York, kept the tribal-theme bandwagon rolling at Fashion Week there last September with an acclaimed East-meets-West collection. From the East came Indian paisley (in place of the Thai ikad prints he’d used earlier), and from the West, cowboy hats and shirts, all a-dazzle with beautiful embroidery.

Designer Bhubawit “Roj” Kritpholnara at Thailand’s most culture-oriented label, Issue, has planned a summer festival of clothes laden with lovely prints. “Fashion this year will be lots of fun and lively,” he foretells. “The silhouette is light, loose and comfortable. The key colours are green and blue.”

Issue continues to reinterpret traditional Thai items like our flowers and the garlands we make from them, and Roj is currently also interested in the time-honoured weave of libhao baskets.

Little is new for the guys this year, but while they’re waiting for their old laundry to come back, the ladies who don’t go for pretty or sexy can go for masculine with military looks, says Disaya Sorakraikitikul of the Disaya and Boudoir labels.

“Cute details like bow ties and cufflinks will be fabulous finishes,” she predicts, and Hermes, Celine and Sophie Albou showed how it’s done in Paris last year with chic trousers and awesome military jackets.

Thanks very much, but Prapakas Angsusin at Hook’s is sticking to glamorous dresses and evening gowns. He says that, while the classic look is unchanged, designers are likely to play with the silhouette, making it more fetching and contemporary.

“The interesting point is the mixing and matching, how vintage looks are given modern definition,” Prapakas says. “Women nowadays pay attention to their personal character. They’re smart and enjoy mix-and-matches. Dresses should be classic, but wearable anytime and still looking great.”

Vatit Virashpanth and Itthi Metanee of the Vatit Itthi ready-to-wear line glean their inspirations from any time period, but insist that the outfits remain “relevant” to the present. For their part, they’re adding elaborate embroidery this year.

“Sometimes designers tend to push fashion forward too much and it gets too futuristic,” Vatit says.

“We prefer music as our inspiration,” Itthi reveals, “because it doesn’t limit us with any specific image, and yet it helps create a mood or a feeling. Classical music is timeless, and likewise classic dresses will always be loved.”

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