The love between Sretsis co-founder Pimdao Sukhahuta and Pierre-Alexandre Darbois is a fairy tale come to life. We meet the couple at Sretsis’ latest project, the Sretsis Parlour—a vintage tearoom and café that reflects the ethereal DNA of the brand. In a subtle glow reminiscent of Victorian gaslight, the dapper duo was positively effusive as they recounted the history of their romance.
They say that a successful couple often shares similar traits and Pimdao and Darbois’ individual back-stories before they met are those of wanderers. Pimdao left Thailand to pursue her further education at Royal Holloway, University of London, but on discovering a passion for fashion she moved to New York to study at the Parsons School of Design. It was during her junior year there that the Sretsis brand was formed. Darbois, on the other hand, is a true citizen of the world and in his childhood he found himself living variously in South Africa, Damascus in Syria and Berlin, Germany. As an adult he went to Switzerland to study for a bachelor’s degree in business management before returning to Paris to undertake a master’s in entrepreneurial management. On completing his studies he moved Milan to pursue a second master’s in luxury and fashion management. In between he also managed to complete a short programme in design management at the renowned Creative Academy of the Richemont Group.
Life has a funny way of unfolding. After his studies, Darbois worked for international brands including Cartier and Hermès in Paris, as well as for Tod’s in Milan. He then moved to Chiang Mai and worked as the international sales and marketing manager for one of the brands of Club 21 and that was when his and Pimdao’s paths converged. “We hosted a joint party between Sretsis and my company at the time,” he says. Pimdao then recounts her first impressions of her future husband. “We were introduced in a professional situation and I thought that he looked very proper in his suit and white shirt—very neat. It was after perhaps a few glasses of champagne that we met again at the bar—because, of course, I was always asking for champagne,” she laughs. “He, on the other hand, was asking for pineapple juice. I found that strangely amusing and it caught my attention so we started talking. I mean, you would assume that he’d be a whisky or a traditional liquor drinker because of how smart he looks. So there was something very charming about the contradiction. We were instantly drawn to each other because we were such complete opposites in terms of character. We wanted to show each other around and share our worlds.”
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That night was also special for Darbois. “The first picture that we took together was with her sisters and colleagues, but if you look at the picture carefully you’ll see that even though we barely knew each other, there was a certain chemistry between us—perhaps not love at first sight but there was definitely an attraction. So much so that we haven’t really been apart since the moment we met. Even when I was living in Chiang Mai, I would fly down to Bangkok after work almost every day of the week and then catch the first flight back to Chiang Mai early the next morning. That was when we both felt that I should move to Bangkok.” When asked what attracted him to Pimdao in the first place, a light smile plays over his lips. “I love her kindness and how she is a family person—which is paramount for me. Also, she has a very special sense of humour and cracks me up all the time. Oh, and physically she’s very beautiful,” he adds with touching sincerity.
Following a seven-month courtship, Darbois—ever the gentleman that he is—decided to approach Pimdao’s family. “He actually asked me when would be an appropriate time to talk to them, i.e. was it too soon for my family? I told him that six months would be acceptable and so after securing their permission, he formally asked for my hand in front of my parents. Even though my whole family welcomed him from the start, he’s a gentleman and wanted to do it the right way.” she says. “I felt it would be rude if I proposed to her before asking her mum and dad,” Darbois adds. “So I asked her how to go about it properly and we were officially engaged within a year.”
As for the proposal itself, did everything go as planned? “Actually, it was very interesting. She really had no idea that it was coming,” he says. Pimdao laughs. “Yeah, he told me to pack a bag and bring my hiking shoes and sports gear. He said we were going to go camping for the weekend. He didn’t tell me the destination, so I didn’t know where we were going until I got to the airport and checked in, at which point I realised we were heading to Chiang Mai. When we got there we took a bus to the Four Seasons Resort, where he proposed. Up until that moment I really thought that we were still going camping. Even when we got to the hotel I thought, ‘oh, so it’s a glamping trip then?’ It was a real surprise.”
The moment. “We checked in and had dinner in our room—there was a terrace overlooking a rice field, so it was like we were surrounded by nothing but nature,” Darbois recalls. Pimdao takes up the story. “It was like a scene from the movies. We dined by candlelight and then we danced to some old French music. It was while we were dancing that he got on his knees and asked me whether I would do him the honour of being his wife. At that moment I started crying and suddenly it started to rain. It was really beautiful.” The love-struck couple was married on August 17, 2017, in a Thai ceremony held in the grounds of her mother’s residence by the river in Pathum Thani, for which the bride arrived on a white horse. The wedding party was held at The Siam Hotel on August 18, followed by a French wedding reception in Dordogne, France, which was attended by the groom’s family and friends.
Since their nuptials, Darbois has moved to work with Sretsis. Overlooking international sales and business development, one of his recent projects was the realisation of Sretsis Parlour’s collaboration with the well-established House of Hackney from the UK. And in spite of their busy schedules, the two manage to make time for each other. “We have different routines. I usually wake up at 5 am and do some exercise before returning around 7 am. Then Pim and I often do some yoga and meditate together. We try to do this every morning. We also play tennis on the weekends. Quality time also means a vacation now and then, usually to Hua Hin,” he says. “And no phones in bed,” Pimdao adds. “We usually chat or watch a series. The thing is, I’m very fortunate that my husband is also into the practice of meditation because lately that’s what I’ve been into. I think it’s the best thing that a couple can do together. Quality time is not just about having fun and relaxing. Like Pierre-Alexandre says, we meditate together and I’ll often swim after that. I’m very curious about spirituality and one’s purpose in life, and it’s even better when you have a partner to grow and share that journey with.”
And if the world were to end tomorrow? He says, “I would tell her that I love her and that I will find her in the next life.” She says, “They say it’s very important that at the end you pass with a peaceful heart. I believe in reincarnation—being reborn into each cycle until you reach Nirvana. Whether we meet again or not, I just want to say to him that I love him and that he should be free of any fear or worry.”
Watch the behind-the-scenes video of Pimdao & Pierre's shoot for our February cover: