I was in Kuala Lumpur on Friday
—two days after the elections. There were no visible signs that an election had just been held. No posters, banners and the like. But you could feel the euphoria and optimism in the air. No one had expected the 92-year-old former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad dragged out of retirement to beat the corruption-stained incumbent, but this was what happened. The people finally decided they had had enough, and this was their way of showing they wanted a change. Those I spoke to talked about staying up till the early hours of Thursday to find out the results and the excitement they felt when it looked like the opposition was winning against the odds. What was most obvious was the pride they displayed because of what they had accomplished. I couldn’t help but feel serious envy and wondered if we Thais would also have the opportunity to show people power at its best.
Dinner With YTL
My trip to KL was to join in a dinner hosted by Dato Mark Yeoh of YTL Hotels to announce Monkey Island Estate, the group’s soon-to-open hotel in the historic village of Bray-on-Thames in Berkshire, England. British chef Will Hemming had been flown in from the property to demonstrate his culinary expertise at the Ritz-Carlton Kuala Lumpur, another YTL hotel. Before the opening of Monkey Island though, Dato Mark will be in Thailand to celebrate the launch of the Ritz-Carlton Koh Samui in early June.
Ralph Gibson Exhibition At Leica Gallery
Last week started with a meeting with a world-famous photographer, Ralph Gibson, who was in town for the opening of his exhibition "Nude and Muses" at the Leica Gallery at Gaysorn Village. Curated by Thai artist/photographer Piyatat Hemmatat, some of Gibson’s well-known shots are on display until June 25. The American photographer, who has been behind the lens for some 50 years, is also a musician and composer and showed off his talent at the opening party hosted by Danai and Disaya Sorakraikitikul, importer of Leica in Thailand.
The next day I had the opportunity to rub shoulders with those in the art world again, this time with Japanese artist Madsaki, a rising star in the contemporary art world. Central Embassy together with Kaikai Kiki Gallery Tokyo and Galerie Perrotin Seoul hosted his first-ever solo exhibition "Combination Platter" influenced by street cultures and cultural landmarks. Unveiled were never before seen pieces such as a five-metre totem sculpture and a 13-metre-wide painting. Limited edition Madsaki items have been created for sale at Siwilai until June 3.
When Beauty Gems puts on a show, they do it big.
The opening of "Diamonds in the Wonderland Secret Garden" was such an affair, turning the event hall of Central Chidlom into a fantasy setting inspired by Alice in Wonderland. On display until May 27, the highlight is the Cosmos Egg, crafted in white and yellow gold and platinum, which opens to reveal 12 gold flowers embellished with 12 lucky stones representing the zodiac signs. According to Suriyon Sriorathaikul, the masterpiece was created 29 years ago, and this is the first time it has been displayed to the public. Although it was an afternoon tea event, many of the long-time clients of the brand were dressed in evening gowns and showing off their brightest gemstone collections.
PP Group also goes big.
Prior to the Beauty Gems opening, I made a brief stop at the press conference of PP Group, distributor of Celine, Emilio Pucci, Givenchy, Loewe, Longchamp, MCM, Roger Vivier, Tod’s and Tory Burch, held at Central Embassy. To celebrate its 15th anniversary, founders Suvadee Phungbunphra and Orand Puiphanthavong announced plans for to see sales hitting 1.2 billion baht in 2018 and a bigger push into e-commerce with Longchamp and the addition of a new brand, Off-White.
Things Got Naughty
Another fashion event was Another Story’s launch of Get Naughty, a presentation of products that encourage women to wear what they want. The hip lifestyle concept store at EmQuartier invites ladies to create their own personal clothing styles without having to worry about what others will say. Joining the event was supermodel Cindy Bishop who started the #DontTellMeHowToDress in response to the Thai government’s clothing instructions for Songkran.
We're Only At Wednesday
Wednesday was a food day. For lunch, I had been invited by Annabelle Daokaew, PR consultant for Dusit Thani, to join a group of food critics to try the contemporary Thai cuisine at Benjarong. The feedback would be used to fine-tune the Thai food concept for the restaurant. Since three of us (me included) have birthdays this month, Annie kindly arranged for a birthday cake for us to blow out the candles.
That evening there was a dinner hosted by Longines to launch the Conquest VHP, a new achievement in quartz technology and the special edition Conquest 1/100th Roland Garros to celebrate its longstanding partnership with the French Open tennis tournament. Hosted by Tipanat Lenbury, managing director of the Swatch Group Trading, at Nimitr restaurant of 137 Pillars, the dinner featured video projection on the dinner tables so that tennis balls were flying around the plates and glasses as we ate. Making an appearance was heartthrob Naphat Siangsomboon, who sang two songs although he is better known for his acting than his singing.
(Previously: Naphalai's Diary: April 30-May 6)