Thai-American fashion designer Thakoon Panichgul is regarded as one of the up-and-coming and fashionable womenswear designers in the USA, who is famous for his innovative combination of American style and his own Asian heritage.
Thakoon Panichgul was born in 1974 in Nakhon Phanom province in Thailand and lived most of his young years in Bangkok. When he was at the age of 11, his family moved to Omaha, Nebraska in the USA. Firstly, it was great cultural shock for Thakoon as he did not speak a word in English. Besides, he had never seen snow and corn before. Anyway, after finishing Bellevue West High School, he got a scholarship in Boston University and graduated with a degree in business in 1997. Since 1997 he has permanently been living in New York (Trebay 20).
After moving to New York City, Thakoon Panichgul started working as a fashion editor for Harper’s Bazaar. Actually, he started his career as an assistant in the fashion features department and also in the writing department, even though he has never felt secure about writing in English, which was his second language after Thai. At that time he got a deep interest in fashion design and decided to pursue his studies at the Parsons Design School from 2001 till 2003.
It must be said that it was his self-confidence and persistence that helped him gain recognition. When after graduation from School of Design he did not receive a job with any designer because of the lack of professional experience, he decided to launch his own collection of the finished ready-to-wear clothes. A 10-look collection, presented in the fall of 2004, turned out to be very successful and was recognized by leading fashion press, magazine editors and famous stylists. One of the representatives of Vogue noted Thakoon Panichgul as a very promising designer and advised to show his collection to Anna Wintour. It was lucky chance for him as Anna was regarded as one of the kingmakers in the fashion world. In 2006 he became a recipient of CDFA/ Vogue Fashion Fund Award and was nominated by CDFA for The Swarovski Award for Best Emerging Womenswear Designer (Smith 2009).
Thakoon Panichgul has launched his own New York-based fashion house under the “Thakoon” label. After his first collection, presented in 2004, numerous collections were produced, including the first Thakoon runway show in September 2005 and the first Resort collection in June 2007. It should be noted that beside his main collections Thakoon presented also the lower-priced lines named “Thakoon Addition” and “Carbon Copy”. They maintained general concept and original design prints from previous collections but were made with the less expensive materials, making Thakoon-branded clothes more available for the regular customer. In September 2010 Thakoon Panichgul launched his first handbag collection.
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Apart from presenting his own collections, Thakoon Panichgul cooperated with other famous American brands. In 2007 he was collaborating with The Gap and then presented fashion line of white shirts and shirtdresses. The collection was then featured by Vogue magazine on its May cover. In December 2008 Panichgul launched a limited-edition fashion line, produced for Target. As always, he received many positive reviews for his work. Later he collaborated with Hogan and Lancome’s Gucci Westman. Since November 2009 Thakoon is entitled as the Creative director of Tasaki Jewelry.
Among his clients are found such famous American celebrities as Sarah Jessica Parker, America Ferrera, Demi Moore and Natalie Portman. Another well-known person that helped to raise Thakoon’s profile tremendously is the first lady of the USA Michelle Obama who chose a floral dress by Panichgul for the evening of Barack Obama’s acceptance of the Democratic Party’s nomination for the post of president in 2008.
Speaking about the key features of fashion from Thakoon Panichgul, his collections are remarked by dynamism and great sense of details that are blended with various influences including his own Asian heritage. Clothes produced under Thakoon label are always fresh and original as they are modern and innovative, but also sensual and romantic at the same time. Fashion critics often describe his collections as “timelessly feminine”. One of the other Panichgul’s fashion approaches that make him one of the most up-and-coming designers in the industry of fashion is his ability to combine this “timeless femininity” and comfort while creating his clothes.
Being a Thai-born immigrant, Thakoon Panichgul had to overcome many obstacles like language barrier or culture shock in order to reach his aim. Nevertheless, he managed to become famous and get recognition in the USA. Unlike other immigrants who usually opt for more traditional career prospects, Thakoon launched successful business in the fashion industry and presented his own design concept of combining American culture and Asian heritage.
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With no doubts, Thakoon Panichgul has become one of the most fashionable and innovative designers of our time. With each fashion season coming, the whole fashion world is looking forward to see what Thakoon Panichgul has prepared to surprise the audience this time.