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Chavanon Caisiri set out to revive the tradition in French dressmaking in which his mother was always so deeply involved by giving it a touch of “modern glamour”. The result is Poem, the renowned Thai fashion house that marries style to refinement.
Poem is like the contemporary face of the boutique that his mother Orasri has run for decades on Surawongse Road. Orasri came out of Bangkok’s most famous French dressmaking school, Pornsri, about 40 years ago to open the boutique. The business flourished. Chavanon grew up as witness to a world of sartorial elegance, even if he was too young then to appreciate the subtle craftsmanship that made it all possible.
He appreciates it now. The Pornsri school, he says, gave Thailand “haute couture and the hourglass form”.
The realization came while he was pursuing a degree in architecture at Chulalongkorn University. He needed dressmakers to do the costumes for a faculty stage play, and his mom proved to be the best around.
Chavanon set up Poem in 2006 as a monument to her talent – and to bring glamour back to the Thai fashion scene. He believes it vanished amid the minimalism of the 1990s, when austerity chased off the audacity of the decade that came before. All the color and edginess faded in favor of a dreary plainness recycled from earlier times.