The Thakoon Show That Almost Wasn't

Photo: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images.
When said out loud, "Fashion Week" has a double meaning — and for anyone who's ever been a part of all the action, feeling weak is not only par for the course, it's often the reason we love fashion to begin with. So, in honor of the moments of chaos, beauty, and excitement that made us feel weak, we present My Fashion Week-ness: a compilation of accounts from some of the industry's biggest players. They're spilling their most memorable stories from Fashion Weeks gone by, and the ones that keep them coming back for more.

The first time you saw designer Thakoon Panichgul was probably in The September Issue, as he sat in the back of a car and compared Anna Wintour to Madonna. He was chosen by Wintour to create a line for the Gap, and we watched as he worked tirelessly to ace the task. Since then, he's established himself as one of the great American designers of our time. He's designed a collection for Kohl's, dressed Michelle Obama, created a nail polish for Nars, and, most recently, completely revamped his eponymous label, including a direct-to-consumer business model.

Nearly a dozen seasons later, he's still at it, readying his company to open his first store in New York. We caught up with the designer at the launch, where he told us a story from the early days of his career that made us cringe and want to pat him on the back at the same time. It's kind of insane how effortless these guys make it all look, but behind the scenes, disaster's almost surely going to strike at the most inopportune moment. Here's his account of a happening that almost broke him.

"One season — it was very early on, I want to say it was three years into [my business] — we had to move offices during Fashion Week," he says. "We literally had to move our office space and we were prepping for our show at the same time. I was casting in a new space that didn't have any heat — and it was in the middle of construction. At that point, I was like, Why am I doing this? Why is someone torturing me right now, and what am I doing it for? Just because it was such an early period, and we were scraping money [together]. Then, having to move and having to deal with the pressure of getting the show right — that was a breaking point.

"I really had to go back to why I'm doing that," he adds. "Having to convince myself that there was going to be a rainbow at the end, and having to convince the team that what we were doing was legit and exciting. Just keeping the dream alive." Keep it alive? We're happy to see he's done way better than that.

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