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Inspiring Thakoon

Thakoon Panichgul in his New York studio.

By Julie Baumgardner

Thakoon Panichgul has made a name for himself many times over—not the least of which was when Michelle Obama wore one of his dresses. He's been championed by Anna Wintour and numerous other fashion industry heavyweights and his career has taken the trajectory one might expect with such supporters. Here, we talk to the designer about what inspired him each season.

What’s a go-to source for inspiration?
I love books—there are so many things to discover and be inspired by. I used to read and buy books a lot more than I do now, but the habit is still there. I've been collecting since I was 15 or 16, but when I moved to New York City, it accelerated. I rotate books between the apartment, the office and my house Upstate. I go through moments; right now, I just want paperback books and ‘zines, especially from Japan—they're so well done.

How does your office inspire your mood?
We moved offices a week before our fashion show in February, which was insane. But there's just a lot more space to create and to think. I never come in with a complete idea of what I want my office to look like. Because I work on so many projects, I don't have a strict ritual, so I need the office to be a bit of a blank canvas. I dream of a couch in here, but it's not conducive to how we work. Although, when we are prepping for the show, it would be nice to have a spot to lie on.

Describe how you get into the creative zone.
My new office has gotten me back into looking at magazines. There's a newsstand right downstairs from us now, which is really convenient. I love getting in the office early, picking up a magazine, having my coffee, listening to my music…That's a good way to get the day started!

Where do you find all of your objets d’art?
I get them from all over. eBay, vintage stores, hardware stores, nautical stores in Cape Cod, John Derian...the list goes on!

Is the color red of particular inspiration?
I really respond to it. It's such a strong, sensual, classic color that really goes with everything. Maybe it's the association with lipstick that I like.

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