With fake sunlight streaming through window slats and models in luscious silk prints moving languidly down the runway, the Thakoon spring 2015 runway show at New York Fashion Week seemed like a scene out of the Humphrey Bogart/Lauren Bacall classic Key Largo.
Actually, designer Thakoon Panichgul, whose eclectic clientele includes first lady Michelle Obama and Orange Is the New Black star Taylor Schilling (who admired the collection from a prime front-row seat), said he was referencing the 1959 Brazilian movie Black Orpheus, set in Rio during Carnaval. It won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film.
The collection, which marked his 10th anniversary at New York Fashion Week, has the exotic feeling of a film noir travelogue, with a loose robe dress, cropped pants and pajama-like trousers in a wine-colored tropical bloom pattern, and dresses and slacks in palm fronds prints on a turquoise background.
Known for his unique manipulation of fabrics, Panichgul embroiders slim skirts with raffia-woven stripes and pullover sweaters with feathery fringe yarn in contrasting shades — often worn with thick-heeled sandals that promise to be one of springs biggest trends.
Although many of the looks seem appropriate for a tropical getaway, the designer closed the collection with a series of black-and-white ensembles in graphic shapes that evoke a more urban attitude. A long-sleeve mini-dress in braided black and ivory seems ready made for New York or Dallas streets.
After the show, Schilling, in a black-and-white polka-dotted suit that mirrored the collection, posed for photos with Panichgul, who has called the star his fashion muse. At the 2013 Emmys, she wore an emerald green gown that he designed for her.