Published on November 10, 2007
Kusuma Chaiyaporn, editor-in-chief of Harper’s Bazaar Thailand.
The Thai edition of America's first fashion magazine, Harper's Bazaar celebrated the publication's 140th anniversary on Thursday in an aptly glamorous style with an extravagant fashion show featuring 14 leading Thai designers and more than 40 models.
Kusuma Chaiyaporn, editor-in-chief of Harper's Bazaar Thailand edition, took time out from her busy schedule to talk about the magazine's role in promoting Thailand's fashion industry as well as the future of Harper's Bazaar.
What were the criteria for selecting the 14 designers?
First of all, we chose 14 to represent 140 years of Bazaar's success. All our featured designers are very talented and well known in the Kingdom. They agreed to design special collections for our celebration and to allow one dress from each of their collections to go into our auction, the proceeds from which will go to the Bangsai Arts and Crafts Centre, founded by Her Majesty Queen Sirikit.
What is the show's theme?
Since the theme of Bangkok International Fashion Week (BIFW) is party, the dresses in the show represent fun and excitement. Thailand doesn't have clear season changes and at this time of the year, people are looking forward to the year-end celebrations. So we're presenting beautiful dresses that are ideal for parties.
Are there any guidelines from Harper's Bazaar US regarding the celebration?
We're very fortunate to have a very supportive team from Hearst Magazine International and we've known since the beginning of the year about the celebrations. All 20 of Harper's Bazaar worldwide editions are doing something to mark the anniversary. For example, this month Bazaar's US edition is a collector's edition, featuring the stories of the people behind the success of the magazine over the past 140 years along with personalised greeting designs from the world's leading designers.
What is Harper's Bazaar Thailand doing to mark the occasion?
Besides the fashion show, our magazine will feature some special articles, including a range of designers' greetings in the December issue. In fact the October, November and December issues will all be collectors' editions.
How do you feel about being selected as the opening show of the BIFW? And how will BIFW help the Thai fashion industry?
We are very grateful to the organisers for the opportunity to open the event. We see the fashion week as another international-standard runway for designers, both the established names and the rising stars. The event is good news, as it allows the world to learn more about Thailand's dynamic fashion industry.
What is Harper's Bazaar planning to do to help boost the local fashion industry?
I have talked to several media partners and we think that we will place greater emphasis in the coming years on showcasing the work of textile designers. The fashion world is not just about models and designers but is a more comprehensive cycle. Thailand boasts quality silk and cotton. We want the younger generation to understand more about textiles and fabrics, not just design, and so be able to play and produce with these materials.
We also feel that the people behind the scenes are as important as the designers. That's why this year, we are giving recognition awards to the photographers, make-up artists, hair stylists and writer. We will continue recognising them in the future too.
We also plan to provide a venue for young photographers to enter the industry. This year, we are cooperating with Canon in organising a workshop to find the most talented photographer. We have 10 finalists and we'll select one winner. He or she will receive a cash prize, plus a professional camera and a chance to work with us. We also plan to continue this project.
As one of the leading magazines in the fashion industry, what do you see as the challenges for Thai designers?
Thai designers are very talented but they do not have opportunities. Our aim is to create more channels for them, especially the younger generation. We have organised workshops, inviting renowned international designers to act as facilitators. Language is not the only problem; there is also a fairly large gap in knowledge. We need to groom the next generations and prepare them to be part of the international fashion industry.
What are the underlying secrets of Harper's Bazaar's success in continuously being a fashion leader for 140 years?
Much of it is recognising the importance of teamwork. To be the best magazine, you need the best photographers, best make-up artists, hair-stylists, writers, art directors and so on. So we look for the best people and we recognise them. And it is these people who help us to continuously be successful.
What's the next step for Harper's Bazaar in Thailand?
To continue working hard, giving the best to readers. Harper's Bazaar is a magazine for women who are smart and stylish. Our aim is to help them make themselves more beautiful and develop their personalities but not just by using brand name products. We also want to continue being number one in the industry, as we believe we are second to none both in outlook and content.
Also, we will continue our projects in promoting the rising stars in the entire fashion industry, from the designers to the make-up artists and photographers. As a magazine, we have many more opportunities than other industries and it's our duty to help.