The Bag Page

Thai designer Saksit Pisalasupongs went from theatre to fashion

HIS BAG: Lanvin bag. It can pass as a business bag, and it is also soft and good for use on a casual day. The design is clean and simple, which is what I like in leather products. -- ST PHOTOS: SAMANTHA GOH
HIS BAG: Lanvin bag. It can pass as a business bag, and it is also soft and good for use on a casual day. The design is clean and simple, which is what I like in leather products. -- ST PHOTOS: SAMANTHA GOHST PHOTOS: SAMANTHA GOH

Although he had been interested in fashion from a young age, Saksit Pisalasupongs found himself torn between two passions.

"I had to choose between theatre studies and fashion, and both were equally appealing to me," says the 41-year-old Thai fashion and costume designer, who is single. He eventually made the choice to study theatre directing in London's Middlesex University in 1997.

Upon his return to Bangkok in 2000, however, he had difficulty carving out a career in theatre in Thailand. It was then that his now-partner in fashion and best friend, Mr Phisit Jongnarangsin, offered him a partnership in a fashion business.

Saksit recalls that he intended to use that opportunity to kick-start his theatre career but, 15 years later, fashion has become his main focus.

He made this switch because of the hectic schedules of the fashion business, where a new line has to be produced regularly. This leaves him very little time to devote to other projects.

Nevertheless, he is happy that his work in fashion has allowed him to get in touch once again with the world of theatre. Saksit's costume designs have been used in theatre performances, an advantage gained from his years studying theatre.

"I believe I can work better than other fashion designers in theatre, as I was well-trained in the work of a director and I can understand their expectations better," says Saksit. "It is a benefit to be able to identify what type of material is suitable for certain roles, and how to work with directors who have different expectations in a play."

His design label clearly displays his theatrical background as well, being dramatic, eye-catching and "anything but the minimum". Saksit describes it as clothing suited for people who "have confidence and love being seen".

Surprisingly, his personal taste in fashion is far more down-to-earth than his designs. He explains that clothing comes from the vision of the designers and does not represent something that everyone should wear.

"In Thai, there is a word 'kaladhesa' that refers to space and time, and that reflects my dress sense as well," says Saksit. "You have to know when something is appropriate or not for an event."

In his work as one of the two costume designers for the 28th SEA Games, for instance, the costumes are designed to have lots of details and colours, and to represent a happy sports event.

For the Games, he and his partner had to come up with 200 different costume designs, as well as oversee about 5,000 units of the costumes for the performers in the opening ceremony.

Apart from the Games, Saksit is also working on stage costumes for the musical December Rain by Toy Factory Productions and Wild Rice's production of The Emperor's New Clothes, as well as a new collection for his fashion label, the Tube Gallery.

"It's a lot to handle at the moment, especially considering the size of the SEA Games," he says with a laugh. "But we do it because we enjoy it. It's a sort of 'pain with pleasure' experience."

samgohwy@sph.com.sg


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7 THINGS IN HIS BAG

1. SKETCHES

This job requires a lot of spontaneous work and quick action. It's important to be able to make notes and pen ideas quickly. I also carry the clipboard to make the writing easier.


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2. SEA GAMES PASS

I carry this around all the time because I need it to move in and out of the stadium during my work. It also shows my pride at being involved in such a large-scale event.


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3. BURBERRY SHADES

I like using these when on the plane. It cuts down light when I need to sleep on a very early or late flight.


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4. APPLE IPAD MINI AND CASE

The case is also from my label, the Tube Gallery. The iPad functions as a lighter and smaller computer, which is very useful for me. The case design is a bit retro, and is a mix of different shades so it can go with clothes of different colours.


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5. WORK KIT

Work in the stadium is all about fitting. There is bound to be some human error when you design clothing, so the tape and safety pins are indispensable for taking measurements and fixing costumes.


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6. BENEFIT PORE MINIMISER

My job is very hectic, so I don't always have time to engage a make-up artist. These kinds of simple cosmetics come in handy for times when you need quick touch-ups.


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7. LEICA CAMERA

I use this to capture references during fittings and rehearsals. It also doubles as my journal as it records memories of my previous and present work.