9th Celebration of Silk: Thai Silk Road to the World 2019

by Kathleen Pokrud
Thai Silk

2nd International Thai Silk Fashion Week 18 – 22 November 2019
Grand Fashion Extravaganza: 23 November 2019

Her Majesty Queen Sirikit, the Queen Mother, well known as the “Queen of Silk” has spent the last sixty years tirelessly promoting silk farming and production and the revitalisation of traditional silk designs throughout the Kingdom of Thailand. 

For the last eight years, a project celebrating Thai silk has been organised in honour of the Queen Mother called “Celebration of Silk – Thai Silk Road to the World”. 2019 will showcase the 9th annual celebration to commemorate Her Majesty’s 87th birthday. Since 2010, the Thai Tourist Assistance Foundation, in collaboration with members of the foreign diplomatic corps in Bangkok, has organised the Celebration of Silk project to exhibit traditional and modern Thai silk and design.  Not limited to Thailand, the Queen Mother’s tremendous impact has been promoted throughout Asia and around the world. Through education and investment projects, Her Majesty has made a significant contribution with the boosting of the silk industry to the lives and livelihoods of many Thai people. In honour of Her Majesty Queen Sirikit, the Queen Mother, the project runs for an entire week with design seminars, university lectures, commercial displays and an extraordinary nationally televised fashion show each year.

History of the Project
Thai Silk

The first event was held at the Suvarnabhumi International Airport in 2009 under the government of former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva. This was the Creative Economy project under the former Deputy Minister of Commerce, Mr. Alongkorn Ponleboot to start the creative project for New Age music and Thai Silk event.  The timing was right after the infamous dispersal of yellow shirt protestors from the airport. The event provided the opportunity to give confidence to both tourists and investors to return to Thailand. The exhibition received strong support from the members of SHOM (Spouses of Heads of Missions) chaired by Madame Aurora Sagaz, then President of SHOM and wife of Spanish Ambassador H.E. Mr. Ignacio Sagaz. With the participation of 10 ladies from SHOM, the celebration was an overwhelming success with both local and international media coverage. Since then, this event has become an annual signature event for Thai Silk in collaboration with the diplomatic community.

Highlights from 8th Celebration of Silk in 2018

In 2018, a total of 48 countries participated in the project. International fashion designers from 39 countries came to Thailand, and 9 top Thai fashion designers also took part in the celebration. Last year marked the biggest Thai Silk Fashion event ever held in Thailand. Designers from different countries created Royal Thai Silk costumes for their respective Ambassador, Spouse of Ambassador or Embassy representative. The Grand Opening Fashion Show was a wonderful affair which was officiated by Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha in front of an audience of over 2,500 media personalities, designers, celebrities, government officials, diplomats, buyers, business and industry leaders. Last year observed the participation of 20 Ambassadors, 23 spouses of Ambassadors, and 20 Embassy representatives. With the 2018 project, the 1st International Thai Silk Fashion week was launched and successfully showcased 15 full fashion shows by 32 fashion designers. An impressive amount of over 3,500 metres of Royal Thai Silk were delivered around the world to be tailored for these shows.

Thai SilkThai SilkThai SilkOne of the highlights of the grand opening show was the presentation to Her Majesty Queen Sirikit’s private secretary by internationally renowned fashion designer, Professor Datuk Jimmy Choo, who designed and custom made a pair of Royal Thai Silk shoes in honour of the occasion. In 2018, another significant climax was the appearance of the winner of Miss Universe 2015 Miss Pia Alonzo Wutzback from The Philippines. She modelled for famous Filipino American designer Oliver Tolentino at the grand opening and Fashion Week. More than 35 beauty queens from around the world participated in last year’s fashion show wearing Thai Silk dresses designed by either designer from their own countries or Thai designers. Their appearance helped to promote the use of Thai Silk and Thai culture through their fan clubs and social medial followers to around the world.

Grand expectations for 2019

For the upcoming 9th Celebration of Thai Silk, I sat down with Mr. Edward Kiti, President and Founder of the Tourist Assistance Foundation, who has been working incessantly on the project. My first few questions to the project manager were to truly understand the goals of the project. “Our prime aim is to promote cross-cultural exchange between Thailand and participating countries through Silk diplomacy,” Edward explained. He further added, “To show appreciation with the enormous gift that the Queen Mother has bestowed to the Thai Silk industry, we have continued to encourage the diplomatic corps participation in honour of Her Majesty. This year marks Her Majesty’s 87th birthday.” “We are very pleased to announce that Professor Datuk Jimmy Choo has agreed to contribute as an advisor. His renowned knowledge and experience will help to elevate our project to an even higher international standard.”

Thai SilkEdward further added, “The Silk project provides us the unique opportunity to encourage closeness of Thai culture with participating country’s culture through Thai silk fashion. By introducing international designers and unique designs, we in Thailand can learn and expose to other country’s exclusive accomplishment. During the week long interaction, we gain new knowledge of the participating country’s tourism attractions.” To date, more than 60 countries have committed to participate, this year will render the biggest ever world-class Thai Silk fashion event to be held in Thailand. The design concept this year is “The Land of Smiles”. Edward spelt out, “Thailand is known as the Land of Smiles, Thai people smile a lot. It is in the Thai culture to be kindhearted, friendly and helpful. A Thai smile can mean happiness, amusement, embarrassment and apologies. This unique culture makes Thailand welcoming to the world.”

ThaiSilk2nd International Thai Silk Fashion Week

The 1st International Thai Silk Fashion Week was launched last year, with the participation of 39 international fashion designers and 9 top Thai designers.  During the weeklong event, each designer showcased a collection up to 12 pieces of Thai Silk costumes and also their own latest collections. All Thai Silk fabric used in last year’s project was entirely from The Foundation for the Promotion of Supplementary Occupations and Related Technique of Her Majesty Queen Sirikit of Thailand. All Thai silk fabrics from the foundation were handwoven with limited quantity for each pattern and texture. The Thai silk fabrics to be used this year are to be sent to international fashion designers all around the world via courier service.

The 2nd International Thai Silk Fashion Week will be the biggest fashion event to be held in Bangkok, starting from 18-22 November, a total of five days, five shows per day with more than 30 international and top Thai designers. More designers are expected to participate, as registration is still underway. Edward explained about the rationale behind the Fashion Week, “This experience provides a designer the chance to represent their nation in a unique and special way. The experience will include important commercial and media exposure for each designer as well as the incredible opportunity to visit Thailand and experience the beauty of our nation, our people and our silk.”

Miss universe group
A total of 48 countries participated in last year’s grand event; the organiser is expecting another record-breaking participation of more than 60 countries in 2019. Foreign designers are invited to celebrate the 9th edition of “Celebration of Silk”. The goal this year is to expand to include the creation of more unique designs in Thai silk by each designer. The continuing highlight of the show is a custom design for each participating nation’s Ambassador or spouse. Every designer is provided with an excellent fashion show opportunity during the celebration to showcase his or her own collections. The 9th Celebration of Silk: Thai Silk Road to the World Exhibition and the 2nd Thai Silk International Fashion Week are scheduled from 18 – 22 November, 2019 at CentralWorld, with the Grand Fashion Extravaganza planned for November 23 to be held at the newly renovated Royal Thai Navy Convention Hall.

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