Cover Story: Fashion Designer Thipvipa Kitakkaranon And Her Fabric of Dreams
Among Thailand’s rising batch of young and talented fashion entrepreneurs is Thipvipa Kitakkaranon who last year officially launched L’Astelle, a brand specialising in meticulously hand-stitched bridal and evening gowns. Making a notable debut, the brand was unveiled to the world at a fashion show at the InterContinental Le Grand hotel in Paris. “It really was a dream come true,” smiles Thipvipa. “I mean, aside from being one of my favourite cities in the world, Paris is the city of love— the perfect match for my debut Love Sonnet collection.”
It is not uncommon for young girls to fall in love with fashion. For Thipvipa though it was always more than just flipping through magazines and playing dress-up. She had always felt a strong connection to the creative side of life. “My family owns a mass production denim factory,” she says. “Having often travelled with my mother to meet customers and suppliers overseas and admired her work throughout the years, I think my appreciation for fashion was natural.”
Set on the world of couture and pursuing her childhood dreams of becoming a designer, Thipvipa earned a bachelor’s degree from the London College of Fashion. It was there that the now 27-year-old was able to truly hone her ideas and learn to execute them in the most efficient manner. “I loved it because the school really championed individuality, allowing each student to carve out their own path,” she says.
While she learned a great deal from the family business and college, not least the intricacies of the fabrication process, Thipvipa followed that individual path to strike out on her own in the glamorous world of fashion, the only one of five siblings to do so. “It’s because I wanted to work in haute couture,” she says. “It requires scrupulous attention to detail and precision, which I believe are among my biggest strengths.”
Hence a normal day in the life of the young designer entails hours spent mulling over the creation of one-of-a-kind pieces. “L’Astelle is rooted in embroidery,” she explains. “Each piece takes months of preparation. Like any art, it requires time and patience.” Her love of European architecture, particularly gothic churches, opera houses and castles such as the Augustenberg Palace in Germany and Opéra Garnier in Paris, often inspires her work. “I try to emulate the same sophisticated beauty and level of craftsmanship that went into building those magnificent edifices,” she says.
Aspiring to become a leading house for haute couture, L’Astelle already gets some of its embroidery work done at the historically acclaimed Maison Lesage and Thipvipa’s designs have already caught the attention of Princess Maria-Olympia of Greece and British aristocrat Lady Kitty Eleanor Spencer. Another fan of the brand is her friend and muse Wendy Yu, Chinese heiress, fashion investor and founder of Yu Holdings. Thipvipa tells us with pride that it is her goal to tailor for royalty across the globe one day. “Ultimately we want to become a global brand with a second atelier in Europe. These are challenging times but persevering in the face of hardship is key to overcoming difficulties.”
Having only embarked on the L’Astelle journey in early 2020, the nascent fashion label’s second collection is set to be launched this month and there is much yet to be accomplished but Thipvipa is a firm believer in the power of organic growth and word-of-mouth. “I think organic growth is the best way to go. In fact, in a way it helps to preserve exclusivity,” she says. “And word of mouth is very powerful because our gowns speak for themselves. Hopefully in the next few years we will have expanded our clientele significantly and opened a base somewhere in Europe. Given the circumstances, we have so far had to subcontract specialists around the world to help with fittings and tailoring in order to accommodate our clients abroad.”
Establishing a brand—a personal dream—is an all-consuming thing, particularly when you are doing it in a time of long periods of enforced seclusion in which to be introspective, so Thivipa is aware that occasionally she needs to step back and press the pause button. How does she do it? “I bake and do some gardening,” she laughs. “When you are starting your own venture, with so much invested in it—not just financially but emotionally—it is sometimes hard to concentrate on anything else. But I do try to find time for myself and stay away from my emails and phone.” Yearly family trips are also a must. “I spend the entire year looking forward to them,” she smiles. “While I love Paris and several other European locations, I also like discovering the hidden gems of Thailand. We have so much to offer here.”
See also: Cracking Suvadee Phungbunphra's Fashion 'Pin' Code
- Photography Wasan Puengprasert, Lin Photo (China)
- Styling Araya Indra, Jill Zhang
- Make-Up Ekarine Wongaganit, Luo Pan
- Hair Weerapop Damthongsuk, Luo Pan
- Location Capella Bangkok, St Regis Shanghai
- Jewellery Bulgari