Vatanika, A Woman Ahead Of Her Time
A graduate of the London College of Fashion, Vatanika Patamasingh na Ayudhya has already made a name for herself since the 2011 launch of her eponymous fashion brand but more recently the spotlight of the Thai fashion industry and high society has been shining ever more brightly on her thanks to her reality show This Is Me Vatanika—the new season of which opened in July—and her exciting new collaboration with luxury Swiss watchmaker House of Franck Muller.
The definition of modern elegance in a crisp white shirt with a jacket stylishly draped over her shoulders, Vatanika is eloquent and enthusiastic as she talks about the design process and inspiration behind this special watch collection. “I worked with the brand in 2018 on the My Franck Muller campaign and on a visit to its Watchland estate in Genthod on Lake Geneva I had the opportunity to talk to the chief operatations officer. Out of that conversation came the suggestion that we collaborate on a special edition. Franck Muller is known as the master of complications because of the intricate details that go into the movement and aesthetics of the watches and I identify strongly with that because I have the same design ethos with my fashion label. I like details and appreciate high craftsmanship. So I immediately saw that there was a good fit between us,” she smiles.
That good fit has manifested itself in the Franck Muller x Vatanika Limited Edition, which encompasses four beautiful black and red timepieces fitting for the modern woman. The collection, which features just 54 watches uses the iconic Franck Muller silhouettes of its Cintrèe Curvex and the Master Square timepieces. “I tend to design clothes that are timeless and classic. Nevertheless, I always make sure that the designs have a playful element—a fun twist. So when we came to design the watches, I tried to enhance that—sophisticated timepieces with a classic look for the modern woman who knows what she wants—but watches that also have something whimsical about them, hence the black and red colour schemes. For instance, the Master Square Vatanika Rouge Diamond Limited Edition combines a red alligator strap and red lacquer dial to create a very modern yet classy timepiece. The black watches are meant to be very classic and can be used for everyday wear and as dress watches in the evening. Of course there are also diamond embellishments—but not that many because younger women tend to want something more subtle,” she explains.
Expanding on this theme Vatanika adds, “I like my ladies to feel good about themselves when they wear my clothes. I mean, they are already beautiful, but when they wear my clothes I want them to feel even more beautiful and confident. Confidence is really important—it comes from the inside. When you are confident you smile more, you talk more, you can be yourself without compromising. I think that is the case with Franck Muller, too. The brand has a very similar philosophy. Funnily enough, I don’t often wear a watch but the Franck Muller timepiece is the exception. You see, I love jewellery and I think these watches are like pieces of beautiful jewellery that you can wear every day. They are classic and timeless. So when I was approached to do the collection I thought, yes, this will definitely work. I like to think that whenever a lady puts on a Franck Muller watch she has the same feelings of confidence and satisfaction that she gets when she wears one of my dresses.”
So how did the design process differ from working on apparel? “Well, in the first place there is the difference in scale. With clothing you have a much bigger canvas on which to include details—elements such as zippers, buttons, sleeves, necklines and hems, the list goes on. However, with a watch you have this tiny, intricate space to work with. It’s very limiting and it requires you to be very creative because over and above the aesthetics of the watch you must always bear in mind that it has to serve a practical function. For this collection, there are four designs so it has been rather challenging. Great fun too though!” she laughs.
Vatanika’s design direction has grown stronger in identity as the years have passed, something she describes as a natural progression. “I feel more mature in terms of my designs now. When I was younger I tended to create pieces that I would like to wear myself. These days I focus more on creating outfits that will make the wearer look good. I want to use my designs to accentuate the beauty of my clientele. It helps me to focus more on the specific purposes of the clothes, to refine details,” she explains.
Haute couture and haute horology aside, Vatanika is gearing up for the second season of her This Is Me Vatanika show on Youtube. Musing on whether it has wrought any changes in her lifestyle, the 30-something designer says, “It means I have more to do but then I basically work seven days a week anyway. It’s fun. I am not going to say that it isn’t sometimes exhausting because it is, but the show has given me amazing experiences in fields beyond my career path—travel, food, art and culture, leisure activities and so on. It has also been a rewarding experience learning about the whole production process.” Is she concerned that the show might compromise aspects of her private life? She laughs the suggestion off. “Oh, my private life pretty much disappeared when I started my fashion brand. So in that sense nothing much has really changed.”
As fans of the show will know, in her free time Vatanika enjoys running away and getting lost with her girlfriends. “To a quiet Thai beach mostly,” she laughs. “These days when I travel overseas it is usually for work, a fashion event in Milan or to visit my showroom in Paris. So now, if I have time, I like to hide away somewhere quiet if I can. I love being able to clear my head with a stroll around a strange city and I enjoy visiting museums and art galleries. I’m a big admirer of the painters Degas and Klimt and Italian contemporary artist Francesco Clemente. I’m also quite happy to be alone—I get so little me time that occasionally I crave a bit of solitude. And when things get too much, if I’m feeling really down, I go to London. I adore the city and whenever I travel there it feels like I’m coming home.”
See also: Vatanika Patamasingha na Ayudhaya Talks Fashion, Personal Style, and Empowerment in Venice
- Photography Nat Prakobsantisuk
- Hair Santipong Khwanseng
- Make-Up Ekarine Wongaganit
- Location Shanghai Mansion