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Koi Suwannagate: Nature as Muse

Emily C. Gyben
September 14th, 2007 @ 6:36 PM - New York

Koi Suwannagate kept it natural at her Spring 2008 presentation on September 11. Held in the Fashionhaus showroom just across the street from the tents in Bryant Park, Suwannagate, a CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Award nominee, staged an intimate 15-look show for a small group, including Vogue editor Anna Wintour.

Soft Hawaiian music played as the models stepped out onto slices of tree trunks strewn with flowers. Her first look showed the inspiration from nature she’s known for: A silk-cashmere top with hand-stitched leaves and turtles, paired with a linen pencil skirt. Details like unfinished edges on the top and a beaded belt were in keeping with the theme.

There were cardigans with Polynesian-inspired tattoo embellishment, appliqués and floral details. Tops had silk chiffon “petals” or sculpted circle details. A few dresses were draped and a bit Grecian, but with Suwannagate’s trademark embellishments. Her colors were soft: yellow, teal, plum and lavender, rust, ivory – with hardly a harsh black or white in sight.

She tried to balance her artisan, natural collection with a few unnatural touches: high-waisted linen skirts had bold chevron stripes, and every model wore high, lucite platforms. But while the chevron patterns were a nice contrast, the lucite simply looked out of place.

Suwannagate’s look is anti-trendy: she uses natural colors, hand-crafted details, and there’s a one-of-a-kind, artisan touch to everything. While she’s had success in the form of press and celebrity fans, there might be a reason why she hasn’t broken out big on the fashion scene yet: it’s hard to mass-produce hand-crafted pieces.

The CFDA award tends to move a designer straight to the big times (Newbie Proenza Schouler won a few years ago – now they’re owned by the Valentino Fashion Group), but that kind of corporate ownership might not be right for Suwannagate just yet.

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