You know Christmas is just around the corner.

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With Santa and others at St Regis Christmas tree lighting

Last week there was at least one Christmas tree lighting event every day. From Iconsiam and the Peninsula to the Sukhothai and the Swissotel Ratchada, they turned Bangkok into a city of festive decorations and sparkling lights. The only one at which I was able to squeeze in a quick stop was at the St Regis, which had carollers and a huge tree in the lobby as well as chestnuts roasted in coffee beans as well as other goodies. This is also the start of the thank-you party season and Lotus Arts de Vivre hosted a lovely event at their shop at Anantara Siam. Patriarch Rolf von Bueren and his sons Sri and Nicholas welcomed their friends and clients to feast on a buffet setup while they perused the jewellery and décor items in the shop.

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With Rolf von Bueren at the Lotus Art de Vivre thank-you party

For collectors of jewellery art pieces, the name Cindy Chao is no doubt familiar. In the past they would have had to travel to Taipei or Hong Kong or buy at Christie’s or Sotheby’s but last week, she came to them. Cindy Chao The Art Jewel and the lady behind it were in Bangkok for three days during which exclusive guests were invited to dine and view her collections at the Waldorf Astoria.

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Cindy Chao's peony brooch that won the Outstanding award at Masterpiece London

The first, the Black Label Masterpieces, are museum-category creations that have won awards and been exhibited internationally, while the White Label items are slightly less sophisticated. Chao works with titanium to make her pieces light and wearable, many of which have been spotted on international celebrities including Sarah Jessica Parker, Salma Hayek and Amy Adams. According to Chao, there has been great interest from Bangkok collectors 

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Cindy Chao's emerald feather brooches

Beauty and ugliness may seem to be two extremes, but are actually not that far removed from each other, as the paintings of Princess Marsi Paripatra demonstrate. The extremely talented princess, who passed away in 2013, lived for the most part of her life in Annot in the South of France where she created paintings in the surrealiste-fantastique style combining the beautiful and the ugly taken from literature, art history and mythology.

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Fashion and art at National Gallery

The Princess Marsi Foundation is holding an exhibition of her works at the National Gallery and in collaboration with Flynow III, organised a fashion show presided over by HRH Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana. Somchai Songwattana of Flynow created a collection of gowns with prints and embroidery based on Princess Marsi’s works which were presented in a performance art mode. Models moved among the guests through the four rooms of the gallery to the music of a live pianist. Proceeds from the sale of this collection as well as the ready-to-wear pieces will be donated to the foundation which is trying to find a permanent home for the paintings.

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Flynow III fashion show

Also of a historical nature was the 130th anniversary of HSBC, which was the first bank to operate in the country and introduced the first banknotes. The event was held in the form of a garden party in the grounds of the British embassy, hosted by CEO Kelvin Tan. Guests walked through an exhibition of early documents and equipment owned by the bank before enjoying a performance by the pop-opera group Fivera. COO Asdaporn Vanabriksha kindly escorted me around and introduced me to some of the other guests, most of whom I would normally not meet in my usual circles.

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With HSBC COO Asdaporn Vanabriksha in front of a backdrop depicting the bank's former office on Charoenkrung

I also went to the opening of Baan Vajra, a boutique hotel with 16 rooms in a 100-year-old house belonging to the Vajrabhaya family. Premmanat Vajrabhaya has renovated the house located in Silom in a classic, colonial style reinforced with steel and concrete for safety. It is furnished with furniture and antiques that date back to the colonial period. All rooms are air-conditioned, with modern private bathrooms.

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With Premmanat Vajrabhaya and his wife at Baan Vajra

Still absorbed in the past, I went to the Bangkok That Was photo exhibition at OP Garden organised by Serindia Gallery and the Italian and Belgian embassies. Fabrizio La Torre came to Bangkok in 1956 to work for Italthai and spent his free time photographing everyday life in the city at that time. His nephew Francois Bayle is the executor of his collection and hosts the exhibition which ran at Serindia Gallery last week and moves to the National Museum until January 4.

There were a few other fashion events last week. Jim Thompson has been extra busy during the last few weeks, hosting a drove of events. The latest was the unveiling of its spring/summer 2019 range designed by Massimiliano Maggiolo, personal goods design and development director at Jim Thompson House. Divided into three “chapters”, each one started with food and drinks that reflect the collection prior to the fashion set. The beautiful prints and colours enhance the wonder of Thai silk in the various outfits.

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Jim Thompson CEO Gerald Mazzalovo, communications director Chutima Dumsuwan and designer Massimiliano Maggiolo with models

Meanwhile, Rebecca Minkoff opened its new branch at Central World presenting the holiday collection of bags and accessories. Wikanda Patanabumrung and Porndet Chindawanich of distributor PAT Luxury Group launched the first Rebecca Minkoff store in 2016 and now have four branches in Bangkok. The duo also own Kate Spade in Thailand and later joined guests to present its new collection at the store just a few doors down.

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With Porndet and Wikanda at Rebecca Minkoff

Pellevah is a Thai brand that specialises in exotic leather handbags and has opened a new store at Anantara Siam. New collections including a collaboration with Ashi Studio, and the Vacanza and Nakrob ranges were on display for guests to browse.

OPPO, the Chinese smartphone company, continues to make its presence felt in the Thai market, this time hosting a rooftop event for the release of the R17 Pro designed especially for night-time photography. Held at the open-air A Bar of the Marquis Marriott, executive vice president Chanon Jirayukul introduced fashion designer Vatanika Patamasingha Na Ayudhya and photographer Surachai Sangsuwan to speak about their experiences.

I also went to Maya, the Indian restaurant at Holiday Inn Sukhumvit. New general manager Jagdeep Thakral is adjusting the concept so the restaurant still serves Indian cuisine, but in a modern style. Guests can order any number of entrees resrmbling tapas to be shared, before settling on a main course that is more like the traditional dishes. I must say I found this way of dining on Indian food very enjoyable and less heavy and filling than usual.

And finally, a visit to the Royal Project Gastronomy Festival at Siam Paragon, showcasing fresh superfoods. From organic rice to cereals, vegetables and herbs shoppers were able to learn more about their benefits and try menus prepared by leading restaurants. Following the opening of the market, guests proceeded to Another Hound to enjoy a healthy and creative menu using the Royal Project’s premium products.

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With Chadatip Chutrakul at Royal Project Gastronomy Festival

(Previously: Naphalai’s Diary: November 19-25)

Tags: Naphalai's Diary