First and foremost, I’m so sorry about the silence on my end since I got to Bangkok (destination revealed!). It has been an absolute whirlwind to say the least, and for all its chaos and unconditional hospitality, I think I am a little in love with this city – torrential night time rain in 40 degree heat has its own romance about it (why yes, it lends itself just as well to evening gowns and wet hair as Sri Panwa did…).
On Day 1 of filming, I finally met my favourite Thai designer, KEM Issara. As the story always goes, we have been happy Instagram friends since I was introduced to her work on my first trip to Thailand last November, so the déjà vu of walking into Kem’s Ekamai 22 store and café was infinitely more friendly and exciting than the usual sensation – and probably not to be termed déjà vu at all. Kem herself is an effervescent ball of sweetheart, sporting enviably precise liner and brows, and that eye for detail. I would go so far as to say that her space is one of the most beautifully concepted retail boutiques I’ve ever come across. Though present, it was never about clean lines and raw floors – rather a lifestyle built around the KEM Isarra girl who doesn’t take herself too seriously, happily stomps around in gowns and boots during the day, looks for the less obvious in volume or colour, and craves quality and all the freedom that comes with it. I find it so hard to believe that Kem is only three seasons into her design career (her technical background is in textiles). For designers of this calibre, something closer to three years would produce collections far shy of this level of innovation, directional clarity, well-branded signature, and market understanding. When Kem does double floral, there is no Met Gala Kim Kardashian in sight. There’s a world’s worth more finesse and playfulness.
That, and she’s the only designer I know, aside from Viktor & Rolf, who fully understands the potential and magic in fine pleating.
The adjacent café she manages with a friend this is, too, demonstrative of this ingenious lifestyle-driven phenomenon of attaching a blooming fashion industry to Thailand’s deep-seated food obsession (you never saw so many #foodstagrams… ever). Between FEAST and the boutique, this little corner of Bangkok retail reflects every element of her target consumer to the T. Or the tea. And the cute desserts. And the traveling trinkets. And the fresh muted blooms. And every piece of furniture in the place. Granted, I spent quite some time between takes roaming the place in this get-up, feeling very much at home and split skirt ready.
KEMissara Top and Skirt – Nikon D600 from Digidirect