February 12, 2011
Rococo Masai. When Thakoon Panichgul was doing research for his new Fall collection, he observed similarities between the costumes of Versailles and the clothes worn by the Kenyan tribe. Sound like a stretch? The designer made the connection in the first look out: a puffer jacket with detachable panniers à la Marie Antoinette, but cut from a red and blue plaid ripped from a photo of African warriors. Panichgul kept the juxtapositions going from beginning to end: A short-in-front, long-in-back ball skirt came whipped up from a yellow floral batik, and a bustled vest in that buffalo plaid was worn over a pair of cropped pants in an African paisley print. (Thakoon, it must be said, was an early adopter of mismatched prints.)
The irony is that clothes with such high, far-flung associations could end up looking so connected to the street, so sporty. Pointing out before the show how the pink taffeta he used for a down vest and a drawstring-hem skirt resembles the nylon from a windbreaker or a tracksuit, Panichgul described the collection as "fanciful, but pavement." The fact that that came across in the gilded environs of the Plaza hotel only goes to prove that this was his freshest, most alive collection in a while.