Thai jewellery designer Ek Thongprasert makes bold statements
The pieces are big and bold, and very different to the quielty spoken man who designs them.
Thai-born, Belgium-trained jeweller Ek Thongprasert was at Joyce in Hong Kong in March to launch his latest collection, and the designer was modest considering the name he has made for himself in the fashion world. The avant-garde and classic shapes in his eponymous clothes collections are worthy of column inches, but today it’s his statement jewellery that is making some loud pings on the fashion world’s radar.
A photo shoot by Mario Testino in Vogue Germany last year got the industry in a flap (his pieces have also featured in Cosmopolitan, Elle and Harper’s Bazaar).
“After I graduated from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp in 2008, I started showing my work in Paris - mostly my graduate collection of clothes and jewellery. But what I saw then was that the jewellery market was less competitive and in need of some variety, so I followed through on that instinct.”
Today his vintage-inspired pieces are winning the hearts of modern women. The pieces, rich in historical, social and spiritual meaning, challenge perceptions of jewellery designs that had been long forgotten or considered too antique or too classic, and out of date.
While Ek says he had a certain type of woman in mind when he designed the pieces, he has since evolved his thinking along with the brand.
“At the beginning I was looking to only one type of woman – a very feminine and glam-in-a-fun-way type of woman. And my brand actually builds on that market segment. But season after season I found the market is much bigger and more interesting than that. I slowly built it up to include other women that I also admired: the more active, strong and confident woman.”
And he values the Hong Kong market. “Hong Kong is one of the strongest markets, not because it’s a shopping destination for many tourist both from Asia and outside but it as a great connection point to the China market. … This city gathers various styles of fashion – not only from big brands but small and independent brands that make such a interesting mix," he says. "Society’s norm, humans' perception toward things around them and many 'normal' things in other people's idea are actually my source of inspiration."
Ek says his latest collection is inspired by a "great moment in my life" - the death last year from cancer of his mother.
"It’s a normal thing that happens to every single living thing, but the important fact is that I think everybody wants to stop [at] that moment and live with the one they love forever. The symbolic freezing of a moment and memory is the key to this collection. What I do is that I freeze that beautiful moment of jewellery onto the wearer. The result is a simple necklace known to everybody but the way to wear it had been changed, the way that it interacted with body had been changed."
Ek places no boundaries on his creatitivy. “I’m not limiting myself as a jewellery designer but see myself as a lifestyle designer. My brand has expanded to include bags and a RTW [ready-to-wear fashion] line. The brand’s philosophy of 'innovative luxury' will slowly grow into others market, maybe even home interior products.”