I’ve reconnected within elsewhere.
As a part of a whole, it’s here in “NARAVANNA”,
where silence embraces me and restores beauty in such immensity.
But what is “Naravanna”? These mysterious lines of poetry, written by H.R.H. Princess Sirivannavari, are part of the otherworldly new collection from Her Highness’ eponymous label, which was presented on Thursday night at Royal Paragon Hall. It was a show that took us on a journey through space and time.
The collection, titled ‘Abode of Metamorphosis’, is set in Naravanna. This is a distant planet where the highest stage of Artificial Intelligence roams about, yet still mingles harmoniously with nature in all its diversity and rawness. A fusion of tribal and futuristic styles, the collection captures an uncanny sense of human evolution in a parallel planet.
Naravanna has no runway. Instead, there’s an intergalactic desert with silver metallic dunes eerily lit by shifting overhead strip lights. Our first sign of life emerges, wearing a silver hooded tail hem cocktail dress. This is followed by space-age peplum skirts in metallic quilt, alternating with zebra print tulle blouses and flowing burgundy silk fringe. In this future world, sci-fi and animalistic elegance have somehow collided and become one.
Evolutionary time periods are not the only things that are blended together in Her Highness’s monumental collection. The styles are also a fusion of geographical locations, cultures, and national traditions. We see exaggerated colonial-era sun hats, white corset dresses, African beaded fringe, and Thai wrap-around skirts and culottes all blended together to make a new breed of harmonious humanity.
An enthusiastic world-explorer, Her Highness has found inspiration from all corners of the world. From learning pleating techniques from Gerard Lognon in Paris to working with the Kazuri bead workshop in Kenya, she is one of the few with the right foundations for such an eclectic collection.
Details are key when it comes to making a fictional world believable. The Princess’s eye for intricacies made sure that the atmosphere of Naravanna can be sensed from even the subtlest pieces of jewellery. There’s a round gold wire necklace, for example, which strikes us as a blend of ancient craftsmanship at work and the solar system in orbit.
Becoming real citizens of Naravanna, the models themselves seem to have been mutated into mythical human-animal hybrids through subtle details like printed face art and feather eyelashes.
The menswear also plays a part in this defamiliarised world with hoodie trench coats, safari-coloured sleeveless suit jackets, and leather workwear. Meanwhile, gladiatorial swimsuits are topped with bead jewellery and elegant robes.
It’s rare to find an individual as richly gifted and multi-talented as Princess Sirivannavari. As well as designing the 67 looks for the collection, she also composed the incredible musical score that accompanied them for the show. As the Artistic Director and Patron of the Royal Bangkok Symphony Orchestra (RBSO), she composed an original five-act score that narrated a story of growth, journeys, and evolution. Combining the traditional African Marimba with electric guitars and synthesisers, the music became the perfect soundtrack for Naravanna. The Princess even invented a new instrument for this musical movement — the ‘Reform’ is inspired by gearwheels. The otherworldy experience was also enhanced through recitals of her original poetry and extraterrestrial sounds of drones and eerie intergalactic noise.
There was a particular moment when a single, stunningly draped figure wandered the empty desert alone while a voice sang hauntingly and the orchestra played with pure and simple beauty. Whether it was the loneliness of the gown isolated in the desert or the immersive power of the music, that special moment gave time for pause and reflection. It was a moment to fully grasp the significance of Princess Sirivannavari’s creations. An intensely moving experience, it proved completely Her Highness’ true artistic capacity.
We’re bursting with Thai pride to have such a multi-talented and — may we add — super cool Princess. Few people in the world can achieve so much in so many different fields. But, then again, Princess Sirivannavari is quite literally out of this world. She seems to possess a divine gift for creation, not least since she has here created an entirely new planet of her own. And we’ve been incredibly honoured and moved to be let in to her beautiful world.
SIRIVANNAVARI’s Spring/Summer collection 2019 is now available at their boutique on the 1st Floor, Siam Paragon, Rama I Road, Bangkok (10am-10pm).