The Story of Pierre Balmain and the Queen Mother of Thailand, Queen Sirikit
Calling all Curious Fashionistas! Ever wondered how Pierre Balmain became a sought after Global Fashion Designer? Using Balmain’s 20 year long design relationship with the Queen Mother of Thailand, here are 5 simple ways to help us think like a Global Fashion Designer!
There are many fashion terms to know and fashion designers to follow but what exactly is a Global Fashion Designer?!
Well, it’s a designer who takes designs and styles typical of their home country, mixes them with designs, styles and fabrics from another country or countries, while attributing credit to the country or countries they originally sought inspiration from. So the end result is a completely unique hybrid style made from an equal collaboration!
Pierre Balmain is a Western-wear French Designer who made clothes for movies and royal families in the late 1940’s onward. Although he was born into his family’s fashion boutique and drapery business, he had an itch to study architecture. So he tried his hand at architecture but later decided to become a fashion designer.
To give us an understanding of Pierre’s environment at the time, we’re adding a little history into the mix. Between the end of WWI and WWII there was political and social change happening in and around France. As a result, Balmain spent time in the French Army and after his army experience, he went full force into developing his fashion career. He began working for prominent French designer Lucien Lelong.
Okay, all of this information gives us insight into Pierre’s breath of experiences that led up to his design relationship with the Queen Mother of Thailand. Now using Balmain’s 20 year design relationship with Queen Sirikit as an example, here are 5 ways to help us think like a Global Fashion Designer.
#1 - Travel and Build Relationships
We could find inspiration in a lot of things. From a paper clip to the way a blue jay flaps its feathers in the wind. But as a global fashion designer, we’ll probably want to travel to a place unlike our own. Pierre Balmain had a breath of experiences that took him around the world. Through the relationships he built in various countries he peaked the interest of Thailand’s Queen Sirikit.
#2 - Brainstorm Together
We could create our own vision board/ mood board on our wall with pieces we love. But if we want to think as a global designer would, we’d probably want to incorporate pieces of ourselves, our experiences; and talk with various people within the country we sought inspiration from, to create something new.
Queen Sirikit knew the image she wanted to portray. She wanted to include her Thai heritage as well as incorporate western-style dress elements in her outfits. So Balmain and Queen Sirikit’s advisors went to work on brainstorming the perfect collection!
# 3 - Design, Sketch and Communicate
Now it’s time to take our brainstormed ideas and put them on paper! Because the beauty is in the process, who knows how many designs we’ll come up with. We could create over one hundred sketches and only pick 10 from the bunch. Balmain and Queen Sirikit’s advisors went back and forth to come up with the perfect design!
# 4 - Practice, Revise and Communicate
So we went through and picked the top 10 sketches. Now we’re at a pivotal point. After our constant communication to get our collection just right, we’ve made it to the mannequin phase!Because our first draft on the mannequin won’t be perfect, we practice our designs with muslin fabric before creating our final dress with our expensive silk fabric. It’ll take more revisions as we go along but it’s a really good start. Queen Sirikit and Balmain went through many revisions to find the perfect fit and style!
# 5 - The Final Dress
We’ve made it to the finish line! Yes, there’s always more we could do; like adding more buttons here or taking off a few ribbons there but time’s up. As long as the client’s
happy, our 80% is 100% complete!
Voilé! Balmain and Queen Sirikit’s collaboration contributed to Balmain’s 1960 spring collection and Queen Sirikit’s image. Queen Sirikit portrayed her traditional Thai heritage through her fashion styles as she toured Western countries promoting Thailand’s rich history