This Chinese New Year, the Thailand Tatler office received several beautiful red envelopes from various brands as practical gifts to give away (with money) to our own friends and relatives. As we appreciated the thoughtfulness, we also noted the uniqueness of each brand's ang pao design and inevitably, via human nature, comparison ensued. Though everyone had different favourites—made clear by who snatched up which set of envelopes—here is, more or less, a definitive ranking of the ang paos we received from six kind brands. Thank you all for sending them to us. We are truly grateful.
Choosing to go with an unusual dark red (with metallic sheen) rather than the typical bright red even the most luxurious brands go for, was a bold move that paid off for Disaya in this purely leisure competition. On top of that, the Thai fashion label decided to up the ante with expected gold embellishments by presenting them in a Western-styled harlequin pattern on the front of the envelope. What ultimately seals Disaya's spot at the top of this list, however, is a detail we only noticed after a second or even third inspection. Integrated into the sinewy golden criss-crosses are what looks to be German Shepherds or—for simplicity sake—dogs! A full-grown doggo and a puppy! Now that's a clear win.
Bottega Veneta's horizontal red envelope design demonstrates its grasp of current design trends. First of all, points need to be awarded for featuring a canine—as the envelope's flap for that matter! A geometrical Frenchie (French Bulldog) is fashioned out of just some clever "blocking" with the gold emboss and a little bit of paper bevelling. Bottega also opts for a simple and modern "2018" in san serif and just the brand name on the other side, yielding a very cool and relevant ang pao, perfect for millenials.
Chopard takes a close third to Bottega with an undeniably elegant design. The paper texture of the envelope itself feels very expensive. Chopard chooses a lightweight card that has an almost velvet-like finish—reminiscent of the inside of jewellery boxes! The shade of red is a classic as well, and rather than load up on gold, Chopard definitely got the memo about less being more. With just a few sparkly speckles and the fortune of Chopard's cursive logo looking fabulous in the emboss, this is one red envelope you'll want to save to give to your most respected pu yais.
Though a favourite of some (or this author's rather), Gucci's avant garde approach to even ang paos earns it fourth place on this just-for-fun list because this ang pao design would only appeal to a niche artsy bunch over the other options. Landscape-orientated like Bottega Veneta's, it features a cute illustration but of a questionable dog, framed in a pink circle floating atop a beautiful and iconic, gold-embossed "GUCCI".
Similar to Chopard, competitor Bulgari also goes for classic with a modern twist in the design of their red envelopes this year, following the traditional, well-loved vertical format with the iconic bright red, but in a matte finish to constrast nicely with the gold emboss. Although the meticulous firework design was a unique choice for front imagery, we felt that Gucci's novelty and Chopard's charming simplicity were more in-tuned with the times and therefore deserving of higher rankings.
Most traditional of all is Citibank's red envelope, and we have to adore them for that. Not only have they got the shade and sheen of the red envelope down to Chinatown, the lightweight feel of the paper is so familiar, it takes us back to our youth: simpler times when fancy card-weight ang paos didn't exist. If you want something truly old school and nostalgic, Citibank's ang pao's the one.
(Related: #CNY: 5 Luxury Gifts For Chinese New Year)