KARLA MARTINEZ de SALAS & THAKOON PANICHGUL

KARLA MARTINEZ de SALAS & THAKOON PANICHGUL

FADE IN:

INT. THAKOON HQ, HUDSON SQUARE, NEW YORK CITY — AFTERNOON

Studio lights illuminate a cavernous showroom inside THAKOON PANICHGUL’s downtown Manhattan headquarters. Samples hang on rolling racks against a far wall, adjacent to large boards pinned with photos of models walking a runway. KARLA MARTINEZ DE SALAS enters. The click-click of her heels echoes throughout the space as she makes her way towards the clothes. THAKOON appears from around a corner, and walks into the showroom. He and KARLA exchange warm hellos.

CUT TO:

An employee enters, carrying two cups of tea. She sets them on a table. KARLA and THAKOON pull-up two nearby chairs, and sit down on either side.

KARLA
I was telling someone about my childhood the other day: my parents are from Mexico, and they moved to the United States when my dad, who was a doctor, got accepted into a program in Florida. My sister and I were born there, and didn’t speak English until kindergarten. From Florida, we moved to New York and then Memphis, Tennessee, where my sister and I were the only Mexican girls in our school. We had Southern accents, and weren’t allowed to speak English at home. I always felt that we were different, but special.

THAKOON
I felt like my brother and I were special, too — but not in a good way [BOTH laugh]. I was born and raised in Bangkok, until my mom remarried a guy who was in the military. We moved to Omaha, Nebraska, when I was 11, and it was like: what the fuck?!

KARLA
My family moved again, to El Paso, Texas, when I was going into the third grade. It was traumatic at the time, but, looking back, I feel it shaped my life. I think it’s nice to live in a place that doesn’t have everything.

THAKOON
I feel the same way. I remember visiting Marfa, Texas, and thinking how nice it is that people are making an effort to be creative elsewhere. New York City is so expensive now —

KARLA
It’s hard.

THAKOON
Collectively, it would make sense if the whole industry relocated to the middle of nowhere [KARLA laughs]! I find it exciting when people have the balls to say, “You know what, fuck it.”

KARLA
I’m such a fan of yours because you do your own thing. There’s so much of the same out there now. I’m drawn to what’s special and not just a derivative.

THAKOON
I make pieces I want to put my name on. It’s like when you’re taking a test: you don’t look at the answers of the person next to you, you focus on your own. I always wanted to be a designer, but I never studied fashion. I took a leap of faith to pursue my passion, and I’m not doing it to become famous or to copy someone else’s vision.

KARLA
Don’t you feel like so many people have gotten into the business now just to be famous? Or, it’s the opposite: when a celebrity wants to do clothing, shoes, or what have you. It’s just kind of like… [pauses] Wow.

THAKOON
I think about the designers I look up to: Helmut Lang, Ann Demeulemeester, and people who are artists. To me, that’s the epitome of a good designer, but today, the realm of what that means —

KARLA
Has changed —

THAKOON
Completely. And I don’t necessarily agree with that change.

KARLA
I guess you could say the same about going to fashion shows now — people are on their phones, or doing something so they’re not completely focused. There was a time when you really had to pay attention. That’s why you’ll still see Grace Coddington or Edward Enninful sketching.

THAKOON
When I assisted Kate Betts at Harper’s Bazaar, I had to develop slides of each image and put the photos on inspiration boards. You couldn’t just go online and pick out the looks that you wanted.

KARLA
I interned there when you were an assistant. I was super young and so excited. The content back then was great, and is totally relevant, even today.

THAKOON
When Kate was there it felt like a new magazine. There was a ton of talent. I remember when everything was transitioning to digital, and people refused to use sites like Style.com. They just wouldn’t do it.

KARLA
When I was at The New York Times, we had this digital editor who was like: You have to post on Flickr! Remember Flickr? At the time, I was like: What are you talking about? Now, the first place you’ll see a magazine cover is on Instagram.

THAKOON
Exactly. Today, you can’t ignore social media.

KARLA
It’s all about making people talk. You don’t see it so much in Europe, but, in America, it’s as if controversial subjects are chosen on purpose — whether or not people actually like them.

THAKOON
Absolutely.

KARLA
I’ve never asked this to a designer before, but I’ve always wanted to: do you read reviews?

THAKOON
I do, and I think sometimes fashion critics are tougher on —

KARLA
Industry people?

THAKOON
I feel some of their pieces can be filtered through a more critical eye. It’s uncomfortable, but I can’t escape it.

KARLA
Right. I have several friends who work at magazines, and they’ll always say, “That story looks like shit.” I’m like: Would it kill you just to say, “That’s great!” People will be negative no matter what you do.

THAKOON
I used to be more sensitive, but now I’m relaxed. Reviews are entertainment, they’re a part of the whole circus. It’s become so commercial in New York City, I almost wish the entire fashion community would just —

KARLA
Go somewhere else, somewhere easy.

CREDITS

Photography byBramble Trionfo
Molly Hodson

Conversation moderated byAnthony Rotunno

Karla Martinez de Salas is the Editor in Chief of Vogue Mexico and a co-founder of Piamita.
Thakoon Panichgul is the designer of Thakoon. The current collection is available in-store and online at select retailers.

Did you see? Designer Timo Weiland takes The Thick Questionnaire, editor and ballerina, Amy Astley & Misty Copeland, talk pursuing one’s passion and finding strength in adversity.

THE END