Budding Talent

Romance blooms in Koi Suwannagate’s resort collection.

by Veronique Hyland


Somewhere in Japan, there’s a room filled with more than 150 of Nunthirat Suwannagate’s designs. The collector, who purchases the items through the department store Ginza Komatsu, seems determined to archive every piece from every season while for some reason staying anonymous to the designer.

Not many tiny design operations inspire such eccentric curatorial passions in complete strangers. But the clothes in question, sold under the label Koi Suwannagate (Koi is the designer’s nickname), are artistic to say the least. From her Los Angeles studio, Suwannagate and her seamstresses complete only two delicately decorated pieces a day, ethereal jewels that have found favor with Natalie Portman and Nicole Kidman—although the Thai native doesn’t send clothes to celebrities.

While Suwannagate revels in elaborate constructions, flower-strewn beauties sometimes more suited to reverie than reality, she recently got the urge to broaden her reach. Hence her inaugural resort collection of Art Deco–inspired dresses and tops, rendered with a bit more restraint and priced from $300 to $2,000. A top might feature daisies floating on sheer lilac silk or five yards of yellow chiffon gathered into a frothy bubble.

A finalist for the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund, Suwannagate collaborated with Phillip Lim on a dress for his spring 2007 collection and has been investigating the possibility of partnering with a larger company long-term. “But I’m not giving up my limited [-edition] collection,” she says. “It’s important to be true to who you are.” Her elusive archivist can breathe a sigh of relief.

Tops from Suwannagate’s first resort collection