It’s rare for a print to be so instantly recognised, so widely known. This is particularly true in fashion, where perhaps only the iconic designs of Cath Kidston, Marimekko, and — of course — Orla Kiely spring immediately to mind. But there’s something especially charming about the latter and her brightly coloured graphic florals. They seem to lift the spirits of anything they’re applied to and have a way of simply bringing joy. And joy they have brought indeed — all the way from London to Bangkok.
If, like us, you were distraught when Orla Kiely closed up shops last year, then you’ll be delighted by Jaspal x Orla Kiely — the Irish-born designer’s first ever collaboration with a Thai brand. At the collection’s official launch earlier this Wednesday, we were introduced to all the pieces by Orla Kiely herself. While we chatted, the sweet, warm, and jolly designer shared with us her inspirations, her love for collaborations, and her personal favourite piece from the Jaspal x Orla Kiely collection.
[Images courtesy of Jaspal]
Happiness, Colour, and Fun
‘Happy prints that make you smile’ is the catchphrase for the Jaspal x Orla Kiely collection. Both Jaspal and Orla Kiely are known for their joyful and playful styles. It’s no surprise then that their joint collection is such a delightful combination of swinging sixties style and the bright, vivid colours of Thailand. “I absolutely love the 60s and 70s; my designs are very much influenced by these decades. It’s particularly the 60s Hollywood era that gives me so much inspiration, with all its fun, free, and colourful aesthetics”, says Kiely.
The London-based designer also found Thailand itself to be a colourful muse for this collection. “You know what? There’s just something about the light here that just brings out the brightness and vividness of the colours on everything. I mean, you go outside and the daylight just makes everything pop!” The Jaspal x Orla Kiely collection indeed features many ‘pops’ of bright and vivid colours as a tribute to this feature of Thailand.
“I can’t remember why I started drawing flowers and plants for prints. I think it was just such a natural thing to do for me that I never noticed doing it. When you grow up in such a green place as Ireland, where you’re surrounded by miles of countryside, it’s hard for all of that to not affect you on a deep level”, says Kiely. But it wasn’t just nature that became a source of artistic inspiration, Kiely has also always loved the fun and vibrancy of people. “I adore the work of the photographer Slim Aarons, who does lovely pictures of fashionable people having fun on sunny holidays around California. It’s that kind of happy spirit that stuck with me and that I want to incorporate in my work.”
Since closing her shops in London, Orla Kiely has been busier than ever producing and collaborating with other brands. From Uniqlo to Citroën cars, her iconic prints have spread far and wide across industries and across the world. “It was really fun to work with Citroën actually. Fashion brands don’t usually collaborate with cars — and that’s the problem with cars. If you look at the interiors of cars they’re always so machine-like and a bit boring. We helped design some bright and colourful prints for the upholstery inside the cars to liven them up a bit.” It seems like Orla Kiely can make friends everywhere. “We just love working with products we love — it’s as simple as that”.
On working with Jaspal
“It’s been amazing. They are such a good team — so kind and professional. This is my first ever collaboration with a Thai brand and it’s really been inspiring to me. I think working with Jaspal has given me some more ideas about incorporating more of Thailand into my designs in a few seasons to come!” Orla Kiely is not one for setting rules about her fashions. Part of why she collaborates often with other brands is to give a more fun sense of “mixing and matching”. Mixing her prints with Jaspal’s designs is all part of her playful spirit.
Orla Kiely’s favourite piece
When we asked Orla Kiely to name her favourite piece in the collection, her bright eyes widened. She first headed towards a chic rose pink shirt dress with light green leaf prints and a waist tie. It looks like the perfect garment for a designer at work, being both professional and artsy. Then she picked up an adorable jumpsuit in the same print, with a wide leg and shoulder straps for a cute girl-next-door look. And then after that, Kiely then hurried to pick up this small tote bag, featuring the one and only Lola.
“Have you met Lola?”, the designer asks us. We have, of course, met Lola. The iconic girl character with the over-sized sunglasses is one of Orla Kiely’s most popular prints. She now stars on the small handbags from the Jaspal x Orla Kiely collection, making this leather tote bag the favourite of the designer herself. Kiely never really settled on one item to call her favourite, but, in all honestly, we’d find it pretty impossible to choose too.
Shop the Jaspal x Orla Kiely collection now online and at all Jaspal Stores. Locations: 1/F Siam Paragon, Rama I Road, Bangkok 10330 (10am-9pm). 1/F, Siam Center, Rama I Road, Bangkok, 10330 (10am-9pm). 2/F Central World, Rama I Road, Bangkok, 10330 (10am-9pm). 1/F Emquatier, Sukhumvit Road, Bangkok 10110 (10am-9pm). G/F Terminal 21, Sukhumvit 19, Bangkok 10110 (10am-9pm).