In what world could maharajas successfully mingle with cowboys? The campy breeding grounds of Bollywood? Maybe Broadway? As it turns out, it’s Thakoon Panichgul’s spring runway, where the two disparate worlds collided in a magical way. After fall’s Marie Antoinette-meets-Masai-warrior triumph, Panichgul has proved himself something of an ace when it comes to melding two hyper-specific oddball references with deep cultural roots. At his show held Sunday night at the Plaza Hotel, the ethnic cocktail included a multitude of variations on the classic Western shirt, as well as paisleys and spice-market colors, which were swirled into loud prints and choli looks from the East. “I liked the idea of doing it in a way that was sportif and more American,” said Panichgul during a preview. Mission accomplished.
The colors alone were a force to be reckoned with — from the models’ confectionary-toned hair to the fabrics saturated with turquoise and marigold. It came as a visual shock that Panichgul gracefully tempered with basic sportswear silhouettes — Bermuda shorts, short pleated skirts, blazers and peplumed shirts. Likewise, the rich, Indian-inspired details, such as paisley guipure overlay down the front of a simple shirtdress, and lavish embroideries that appeared in a heart shape or on the back of a vest around the shoulders of a fantastic trench. Panichgul’s controlled eye made the most traditional elements modern, including his new vision for the sari, done here as a cropped halter top, and full, peasant skirts piped in gold lamé.