Tawn Chatchavalvong - fashion designer in Bangkok
The "Bangkok Couture Fashion Week" has fixed place in the calendar of each fashion designer in Asia. Three weeks ago, the "Siam Paragon Asian Couture Fashion Week 2012" ended with shows of six local designers from the South East Asian region and the internationally renowned couture designer Christophe Josse from Paris. He created the look for one of only 12 Haute Couture houses worldwide.
And last Sunday ended another highlight in Bangkok's fashion calendar, the "Elle Fashion Week 2012".
I take this occasion for writing about a whiz of the Bangkok's fashion scene. He is one of the most dedicated and talented "young designer" of Thailand with his label "TAWN C.".
Mr. Tawn Chatchavalvong so his full name, started last year with his well responsed TAWN C. brand. He was also designer for a well known label called "K and I". His collection with "K and I" received attention at the "Bangkok International Couture Fashion Week 2011" and was covered in various well known printed fashion magazines.
The 37 year young designer is not the youngest, but he is with his background an absolutely competitive and well experienced business man with a highly visible addiction on details.
I conducted the interview with Tawn a few weeks ago, during my long stay in Bangkok. I am sitting with Bangkok's newcomer in a coffee shop near Lumpini Park and we are talking about career, vocation and passion. We are discussing about the fashion scene in general, the Thai fashion scene in particular, his late converted passion into action and how he get inspiration for his collections. This story will give an insight into Thailand's fashion scene.
Tawn is sitting in opposite of me. He is wearing a pink shirt with white stripes, blue jeans and black, sparkling polished, shiny leather shoes. His upright position, the neat shiny black hair and a wrinkle-free fresh face did not remind at his stressfull working day.
The unremarkable watch with gray leather bracelet on his left wrist and a silver bracelet, and a silver ring on his right hand discreetly complement the casual, but very business-oriented outfit.
Tawn Chatchavalvong - Fashion Designer of TAWN C.
"If we meet on weekend, you could see me wearing only white clothes."
His eyes give an indication of the influence of his half-Chinese father, who is a Managing Director at a non profit organization. "My father is a passionated cook for our family to provide the physical well-being of the family as well."
Tawn's Thai look comes from his mothers side. "My mother cared primarily about my education and general well-being. She wasn't that much in the kitchen and if than only as an assistant" he continued.
Tawn graduated successfully in political science and worked initially with a governmental agency dealing with social and economic development. "At this stage of my career it is about finding what I want to do in the long run."
"....but my wish to travel and to see more of the world was calling so turned 180 degree to become a flight attendant with United Airlines."
"This job was great fun and I saw many nice places in the world. But inside me matured the decision to devote myself for further studies and a graduation in the United States. I opted for San Francisco where I obtained a further degree in political economics."
Immediately after graduating, he reaped the benefits of these graduation and so he worked for US-based Public Relation firm the next seven years. "I guided customers what to do in order to get good publicity" explained Tawn me.
As always, when something does not thrive on its own soil, it is difficult to harvest the fruits permanently and so it was with these customers.
"The current job didn't satisfy me." So he changed his mind and he looked on a passion that has always interested him, even at in earlier days, as he greedily devoured the "Vogue". Tawn got the last kick when he met a legendary Thai fashion designer. "At this time my slumbering passion awakened and I finally put it into action then."
While Tawn still worked part-time at the PR Company, he devoted himself to the study of fashion at an Italian fashion school base in Bangkok, trying to learn as much as possible in the shortest time.
So he grew very quickly into his new role as a "fashion consultant" and "fashion designer". "This new sense of gratitude from customers filled me with pride and vast motivation because these people gave me the feeling to create something nice."
But every start is difficult, and so it was for the "young" fashion designer.
If you are deeply engaged with a project and if you have no doubt about the correctness of your actions, then you can participate as often in life of special fortunate circumstances.
Tawn was involved to select some bride stuff for a marriage of a friend and so he went to the home of a fashion label owner called "KAI" (also the name of the fashion designer himself).
"Not knowing that the landlord may even open the door, I remembered the situation and took the opportunity and asked if the label "KAI" (with K and I as its sub brand) would have to offer a placement for me."
The next day Tawn received a call from the office of KAI. They ask Tawn to have a meeting with the brand owner Khun Kai. "Surprised and pleased with the unexpected call I agreed."
"Khun KAI asked me if I would be able to come up with ideas of a 48 looks overnight. I didn't hesitate and took the moment of opportunity and said yes."
"A sleepless night, uncountable cups of coffee and countless developments later I presented next morning my creations to Khun Kai."
The result of this collaboration called "Catherine on a journey" inspired by a French movie "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg" featuring Catherine Deneuve.
TAWN C. Collection
"Catherine Deneuve is for me one of the greatest actresses, and even in older age a beautiful woman. I saw her a few years ago at a film festival in Bangkok."
This Collection should be presented at the "Couture Fashion Show" in Bangkok a month later.
Tawn's focus after his career debut with K and I was to create a brand under his own name: TAWN C.
TAWN C. label
TAWN C. Collection
I know no other city that pushes so many creative people, especially in the fashion scene, like Bangkok. Of course, Couture-fashion is only a small part of the extensive fashion scene. But it is also a steadily growing market due to rising income and increasing prosperity of the new well-earning middle class. They orientate themselve at the European, Korean and Japanese fashion.
Tawn is one of the lucky people who were able to grow up in an international environment, and so he was able to get a different view about the world. Therefore he is affected by the western world, different than many other designers of Thailand.
Certainly the support of his father has played a pivotal role. "My father sees my education as his duty."
"Coco Chanel is one of my idols and I am influenced by Jean Paul Gaultier as well. I love classic colors, mixed with pastel colors and clean lines."
We notice the same moment a scene from the movie "Coco before Chanel" where Coco presented herself with a truncated tie and causes a stir.
timeless elegance - classic style
"I try to look from the perspective of a man at the clothes weared by women. I want to be the women best friend."
"I love the manner how Carrie Bradshaw (from the TV series "Sex and the City") looks and describes fashion. I try to look from the same point of view. I put myself at her place and like to listen how she would describe the view. She is a kind of muse for me."
Despite his degree in Fashion Tawn collaborated since the beginning with almost identical and experienced team of photographer, make-up artists and tailors.
Recently Tawn completed the new TAWN C. Autumn/Winter 2012 Collection. It will also be inspired by the Pan Am style of the sixties. The collection reflects a timeless elegance in the outfits. They are perfectly tailored and contain many fine details.
"I try to create three so called "mood-groups "with different coloring. For the timeless classical elegance the black and white outfit. A gold and silver one for special events and a dark one. I am thinking during the whole creative progress how it will look on a rack."
"Where do you get your inspiration?" I asked Tawn. "Everywhere, when I am sitting at breakfast table I start sketching new designs and if I am sitting on a terrace I get inspired by vine growing on a garden wall as well."
In the meanwhile Tawn recently opened the first TAWN C. boutique at one of the most prestige mall in Bangkok called Central Chidlom where he provide advice. "Sometimes they ask me to come to their place and I present a selection of clothes at their home."
TAWN C. boutique at Central Chidlom
"In addition, I offers specific personal advice for VIP's, better known as a full service."
"I am more like the ladies best friend and personal consultant and stylist in one person. For example, recently I got a call from one of my customers, a TV-Star. She asked for a dress with feathers for one event. I designed an extraordinary dress with feathers of an ostrich."
TAWN C. boutique at Central Chidlom
"How long does it take to create a new collection?"
"Actually it is a work from three to four month with changes all the time, till the last minute before the presentation. I am not just designing what I like. It has to be wearable in a good way. If the woman feels uncomfortable , then I change details. That's why I am listening to my customers."
"For my current collection called "Mercury Voyager" it is a day to night wear. I am using black and white as the fundamental colors with silver and gold add ons."
Right now he nearly completed the current Holiday Collection, which he will present shortly in his boutique in Central Chidlom.
"How many collections do you create a year?"
"I create a spring / summer collection, a smaller holiday collection and a collection autumn / winter collection."
"Do you have any limits about creating new styles Tawn?"
"There is no limit, everything is allowed as long as I like it. I try something and decide afterwards if I can accept this and if I like to present this. There are no limits during the creative progress. I follow my instinct when it comes to designing outfits."
...and the result.
"What are you doing for recharging your battery, to get new inspirations?"
"I try to have a balance in my life. Doing different kind of sports, participating at social life and baking cakes is another passion."
"What are your plans for the future? Do you want to move to New York because of the fashion scene there?"
"New York would be great but that is very expensive. It would need a lot of money to afford a similar life there. That means only I do not think about moving to New York for now," he added with a smile.
And if you are interested to see more of TAWN C. fashion, visit his website
or his site in Facebook:
And if you like to meet him in person make an appointment with him at his boutique in Central Chidlom.