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T Suggests: Thai Fine Jewellery, Performance Clothes of the Future and an Ode to a Majestic Beast

By T: The New York Times Style Magazine Singapore

Most of Bangkok-based fine jewellery label Patchavaripa’s pieces are made of 18-karat Siam gold handcrafted by local goldsmiths.
 
Courtesy of Patchavaripa
Most of Bangkok-based fine jewellery label Patchavaripa’s pieces are made of 18-karat Siam gold handcrafted by local goldsmiths.

Fine Jewellery, Made in and Inspired by Thailand

The business of creating jewellery is very much about the tangible as it is the intangible. When Patchavaripa Bodiratnangkura was 13, she made her first jewellery: pink-wired earrings that recalled of a particular summer when her family had a cotton candy machine maker. The young Bangkok-born designer, who established her own eponymous fine jewellery label in 2014 right after she graduated from London’s Central Saint Martins, now still draws inspiration for her contemporary adornments from distant historical narratives of her family. And Bodiratnangkura’s great-grandfather, Nai Lert, is central to it all. As Thailand’s pioneering developer and retailer in the turn of the 20th century, he was a well-known figure among the country’s upper crust. Today, the grand house he lived in (“He had a leopard as his pet,” says Bodiratnangkura) is preserved as a heritage home, as well as the headquarters of Bodiratnangkura’s jewellery business.

Shuttling between London and Bangkok, Bodiratnangkura works with Thai gemmologists and goldsmiths, designing her pieces using the most unique materials, from old-world Siam gold to rare coconut shells that can only be sourced in Amphawa, the district where her grandparents supposedly met while selling fabrics from their longboats and fell in love. Her signature staples include gold rings and hoop earrings of which exterior boasts imperfect linear patterns, directly hand-stamped with a ginkgo leaf. These are part of her aptly named collection, ‘Ginkgo Metrics’. Her latest one, titled ‘Clues’, explores the link between precious objects and the body. Its sculptured pieces feature clusters of chains in different thickness; some paired with dangling odd-shaped gemstones. 

Patchavaripa’s jewellery takes lessons from the past, implementing traditional forms and techniques, and transforms them into modern heirlooms. The pieces feel at once ancient yet strikingly modern. “Like how no nails were used in [my great-grandfather’s] teak house — it was very wabisabi how it was built — that’s also how I design my jewellery. To me, imperfection is perfect,” says Bodiratnangkura. — Bianca Husodo

Patchavaripa jewellery is available at Dover Street Market Singapore.
Florent TanetPieces from the Louis Vuitton 2054 collection, from left: a nylon shirt packed into pillow form; a puffer scarf with a rainbow monogram print; the sleeping-bag portion of a leather carryall (shown without duffel).
Pieces from the Louis Vuitton 2054 collection, from left: a nylon shirt packed into pillow form; a puffer scarf with a rainbow monogram print; the sleeping-bag portion of a leather carryall (shown without duffel).

Virgil Abloh, the artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s men’s wear, is nothing if not intellectually nimble. He trained as an architect and has worked as a D.J., artist, musician and Kanye West whisperer. When it comes to fashion, his references are equally wide-ranging, and he’s proved as likely to send trench coats and pleated pants down the runway as mesh tees and floral harnesses. With his latest capsule collection, he’s baked versatility into individual pieces. Included in the 14-item line, called Louis Vuitton 2054 (the year the brand will turn 200), is a shirt that turns into a pillow, a weekend bag that morphs into a sleeping bag and a coat that doubles as a backpack. It was, according to Abloh, an exercise in rethinking the nature of apparel and what the future of fashion will be. He arrived at his answer — technical and transformable — after looking at collapsible camping equipment. “I was very much inspired by the materials and folding ingenuity that exists in that world of products,” Abloh said, in comments emailed by the brand. Indeed, folding is an integral component in experiencing these multifunctional items: The shirt, papery nylon with removable arms and plexiglass zipper pulls, can be tucked into its own back pocket, and the sleeping bag rolls out of the side compartment of an oversize lambskin duffel.

These days, of course, imagining the future can be a grim undertaking, and technical ware feels imbued with a sharper survivalist edge. But Abloh seems optimistic. What first appears as a sombre, no-nonsense palette reveals splashes of rainbow-coloured camouflage — a glossy nylon puffer scarf, for instance, is black on one side and tie-dye-like on the other. The designer also retains faith in the relationship between man and nature. The muse for the collection was someone who “actively engages with the outdoors,” he said. That’s not the sort of client apt to shut themselves away, and why should it be, given Louis Vuitton’s origins as a luggage company? Though here Abloh has foregone stacks of trunks to send a different message: For maximum agility, and for the sake of our planet, it’s best to travel light. — Kate Guadagnino

The Louis Vuitton 2054 collection is now available in stores.

On the Back of Your Phone, an Ode to a Majestic Beast

LoeweFrom icy pink to gunmetal, Loewe’s now-signature elephant is rendered into leather iPhone cases.
From icy pink to gunmetal, Loewe’s now-signature elephant is rendered into leather iPhone cases.

Across much of Loewe’s archival offerings, the elephant is fast-becoming a statement feature in the house’s design DNA. Back in 2018, the Spanish label collaborated with social media campaign Knot On My Planet and launched the limited edition, multi-coloured Elephant mini bags, which were well-received, to raise funds for the Elephant Crisis Fund. And in 2019, Loewe took inspiration from Disney’s Dumbo the Elephant and rendered its graphics onto the iconic Goya backpack and T pouch. At the turn of the new decade, melding form and functionality together, the elephant motif returns to decorate the traditional iPhone case. Crafted in classic calf and pearlised calf leather, the phone cases arrive across a spectrum of vibrant colours — icy pink, candy, yellow, light blue, and gunmetal — to become an accessory that pays homage to the majestic beast as well as a practical phone stand. — Sng Ler Jun

The Loewe Elephant phone cover will be available from 9 January. 
Read last month’s T Suggests here.