Who is Bee?
When I first met Bee, a cute and irrepressible young designer at a fashion show, her infectious laughter had me dissolving in giggles alongside her; yet when we discussed design I realized there is a sharp and inspiring mind under that formidable beehive.
Almost newly minted (she graduates in February) as a fashion designer, and educated at Thailand’s prestigious Chulalongkorn University, Bee is fluent in three languages and has worked as a makeup artist for three years. I’ll let her tell you about herself, while I rush off to work on a few new projects. (Phew!)
Hold onto your hats: Bee’s witty and engaging take on the future of Thai Fashion, International Fashion, youth, womanhood and the whole shebang, is direct and downright sassy…
Bee Talks Fashion
Bee: A little about myself? My name is Bee, or Vasana Teeraumpornkul, and I graduated with a BA in Chulalongkorn University, just this past July, majoring in Language, Culture and Chinese, which I speak fluently as well, having attended International school since I was little.
I’ve been a freelance makeup artist since 2010. I do bridal, events and studios, but most of my clients are very word of mouth. Now I’m just continuing my studies in Fashion Design out of pure passion. I’ve been doing it for a year and a half now and I graduate in six months, with my Thesis Fashion Show in February. I’m also doing a Charity Fashion Show before it, which will be my first show ever!
My collection includes kids from the ages of 4-9, both girls and boys. The collection is called “Animorphs”, and most of the inspiration was derived from animals running day and night in the wild, reflecting how all kids, even the most innocent ones, have another side, before they get shaped and suppressed by society to become someone they’re really not.
Also, occasionally I do dresses for Plus Size women clients.
I’m continuing my studies in Fashion Design out of pure passion..
DV: Bee, what’s it like being a young designer in Thailand?
Personally I think being a designer in Thailand is already really hard, let alone a young designer. Thais have a culture of valuing brand names a lot. In other words, they only buy ‘international’ brands like Louis Vuitton, Zara, H&M, Diesel etc … So Thai brands so to say aren’t really as famous. To be honest I had never even heard of any Thai brands at all until I got into the fashion industry.
There is also a lot of copying going on, so if you make a design and put it out there in the market, people will steal, try to imitate the patterns as well as the fabric texture and sell them en mass in cheaper quality street markets. I’ve had a lot of friends who recently launched their own brands, and have been complaining to me how after each new collection, their designs and color palettes are already being copied everywhere.
So, yeah, I think it is hard to be a young designer. To get noticed and to be recognized by the masses you really have to have a niche for your own brand. Also to have an inner support system, so they can push you further, or else you don’t really grow at all.
DV: Are there any challenges you face that are unique to Southeast Asia?
Well the only major challenge to me is that Southeast Asian countries know how to play with colors, we’re born with it. If you compare South-East Asian designs to those by Europeans and the US, they tend to be more muted and plain, color-wise, but with Asia you see bursts of colors. So if we were to compete with other South-East Asian brands, Thai people would need to take it up a notch and use more inspiration from our art. That, I think, is what will make us different from designers from the other South-East Asian countries.
Southeast Asian countries know how to play with colors, we’re born with it.
DV: Thailand has an incredible legacy of culture and style stretching back centuries. How does this influence your thinking as a designer?
It does a lot actually. When you say culture and style stretching back centuries, I don’t think it applies to history and art only, right? To me, Thai culture is very delicate and detailed, so being raised in that culture, when I design, I think about everything in 360 degree angle not just plain 2D. I focus on trimmings, how zips effect the design, embroidery, top stitching, what finishing fits best for this garment, and so on. I think it’s an advantage really.
DV: Which designers inspire you? Internationally and from Thailand?
From Thailand I’ll have to say Kloset. I’m not a big fan of his silhouettes, because they’re too sweet for my taste: I love clothes that are classy but edgy. But what Kloset is known for are their prints. They have the most spectacular prints, very elaborate and very inspirational to me. Maybe also be because I sat in on an interview of his once, where he talked a lot about how he started from street-side and took so many years to get to where he is today, so it is very inspirational motivation-wise as well.
The most spectacular prints, very elaborate and very inspirational to me.
Iris Van Herpen’s pieces aren’t just a jaw-dropper from afar but when you take a close look at her garments, it looks like frame in frame, like the fabrics and details are detailed within detail. You should take a look. It’s very avant-garde and it influences me in so many ways. To try to think in shapes that extreme is quite hard, so she’s my muse. I also like Dolce and Gabanna: their menswear, something about their tailoring and cutting is so simple so seducing! Very inspiring to me.
DV: Thailand is world renowned for their beautiful fabrics and textiles, is this something you try to take advantage of in your work?
To be honest, I do acknowledge the fact that we’ve got great resources here in Thailand, but with the opportunities to view International design, I haven’t really had a chance to get in touch with that side of me just yet, maybe be because I was raised in Bangkok, so I didn’t have anythng to do with those traditional textiles at all. But I do think that it is an advantage, not only fabric-wise, but also the amazing hand-embroidery and silk-weaving technique, which make Thai silk unique in the rest of the world.
Internationally I’d say Iris Van Herpen. She’s been my idol since I started fashion design
DV: So are you more inclined to follow international trends, or is there a strong enough local Bangkok scene growing that international fashion has less influence?
Neither. I dont follow trends at all. I read very few magazines, but I do browse online on themes and details of fabrics or embroidery; whatever inspires me at the moment and I kind of go from there.
As I said, I’m very much more avantgarde, so I’m aware that if I take a look at a lot of trends, eventually it gets into my head and my designs will have a little inspiration from that without knowing, So I try not to. However, I do love going to fashion shows! I take a look at the styling and fashion on the runway and the people who attend it. I think that’s more refreshing and new, because each person has a different sense of style, and it’s very interesting to me how they mix it up.
DV: Favorite design of your own?
I did have one piece displayed in an exhibit and it got featured in our local newspaper called “Thairad”. We were to design a dress with prints by hand. So I got my inspiration from Twiggy and her lifestyle, being a girl who flirts and charms. I broke that down and applied it to today’s society and sorry if this is a li’l deep, but I kinda thought of a Twiggy 2013, and I thought how she’d love a one night stand once in a while, and that all girls do..
I got my inspiration from Twiggy and her lifestyle, being a girl who flirts and charms.
So I came up with this dress, “The Sperm Dress”. It uses up 11 metres of fabric 6″wide, and the whole dress was handmade and hand drawn by myself entirely. It took a few weeks to paint it all, then I finally cut the fabrics and sewed it. My proudest work so far!
* Photographs © Copyright:: Pitshaya Praigaew & Sutthiwat Meksakul – www.facebook.com/showhuay.photo