Tell us about yourself ?
I am a Thai national, born in Bangkok, of Vietnamese and Filipino heritage. Professionally, I am an accredited gemologist, with an intimate knowledge of precious stones. In my factory in Bangkok, I produce handbags and accessories of my own design and, striving for the highest quality, I pay close attention to every aspect of production by my small team of Thai artisans. Each collection is unique, incorporating interesting and often unusual colour combinations and with carefully matched beading and tassels to offset the designs.
What inspires your designs?
I am inspired by the women I meet, of many different nationalities and walks of life, but who each have a particular character trait or quirk that appeals to me. I translate these personalities into handbags, perhaps one that I imagine they would like to carry. That is why each of my designs has a woman’s name.
How would you describe your style ?
I would say that my style is ‘deceptively simple’ and ‘versatile’, but with attention to every detail and quality workmanship. It is important to me that my bags are practical as well as beautiful, and I use a first sample of each design for several days myself before I go to production. Using different colour combinations and accessories, each design can take on a whole new character and attraction.
Other talents you would like to have?
Having been mesmerised by a performance of Cirque du Soleil, and delighted by the whimsical and colourful dancers and acrobats, I would love to try my hand at being a costume designer for their company.
Invitees to your dream dinner ?
I imagine a small dinner party of six, small enough to allow a single discussion around the table, or to have two or three separate conversations going on from time to time. I would like to invite people who I admire or am fascinated by, from the past as well as the present. My five guests are:
– Empress Nam Phuong, wife of the last Emperor of Vietnam for her style and elegance and in representing my heritage.
– Sting, musician, for his ability to capture ideas and philosophy into his songs and his concern for the environment.
– Morgan Freeman, actor, for his empathy and talent in the choice of characters he portrays.
– Christian Lacroix, designer, for his skill in bringing colour and modern themes into his designs.
– Joanna MacLean, friend and business partner, for her sense of humour, her concern for humanity and her interest in everything.
I’m good at…
I love to speak and understand different languages and can pick up the basics quite quickly. I am fluent in English and Thai, speak quite presentable French and can get by in Vietnamese and Cantonese. My quick ‘ear’ also makes me a bit of a mimic and I can switch into many accents in a trice, especially colloquial English as it is spoken across Asia.
I’m good at getting both practical day-to-day and rather more complicated problems sorted out, often by knowing and being able to contact the right people at the right time, and getting the results I want.
But I’m very bad at..
Even though I am half Vietnamese, I cannot ride a bicycle. And although I am half Filipina, I am not much of a singer.
And to finish, if your brand was – a colour, a season, a country?
I consider my brand to be not a single colour, but rather a rainbow of colours, each hue touching and influencing the mood of the others.
Likewise I imagine my brand not as a single season, but rather the full spectrum of seasons, not only spring, summer, autumn and winter but also the monsoon and dry seasons of the tropics. Each of my designs can translate into each season by a complete or subtle change of colours.
I know my brand is not a reflection of just one country, but an amalgam of the history and the future of South East Asia, with its heritage of rich colours, textures and designs, as well as with its rapidly emerging, bright ultra-modern lifestyle.