I’m on a mission to visit every fashion museum in the world with my latest stop being the Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles in Bangkok, Thailand. Located on the stunning grounds of The Grand Palace, the queen’s impressive collection is housed in the Ratsadakorn-bhibhathana building. Fit For A Queen: Her Majesty’s Queen Sirikit’s Creations By Balmain was on view and I was eager to see Her Majesty’s clothes.
In 1960, the King and Queen of Thailand would begin a world tour of state visits to 15 nations. Wanting to present herself and country well to the West, she engaged legendary couturier Pierre Balmain to create ensembles that would be appropriate for European dress codes and climate. Along with original creations, Balmain would combine some pieces from existing collections and marry them with Thai silk and Lesage embroidery to create something unique and modern, but still a reflection of her land.
By employing Balmain, Queen Sirikit was able to harness the power of fashion to elevate her international status and promote the Thai silk industry, thus helping to strengthen her country’s economy. Her Majesty and Balmain’s collaboration would last for 22 years until his death in 1982.
Monsieur Balmain created day wear for Her Majesty as well, but this exhibit was all about the gowns. Heavily beaded and embroidered, these pieces could only be worn to some regal event. Dresses covered in flowers, pearls, and lace floated just beyond the glass. Balmain’s couture can be appreciated in photos, but to truly grasp its artistry, it must be seen in up close and in person.
The exhibition included photos of Queen Sirikit wearing the garments as well as rolling footage from several state affairs. There are also a handful of Louis Vuitton trunks commissioned by Balmain to carry the extensive wardrobe and accessories. Trunks were numbered so that outfits could be quickly located.
To take a piece of the couture home, I purchased a museum journal from the bookstore that gives a behind the scenes look at the tremendous effort that goes into creating a show like this.
Disclaimer : These are not my photos. I was prohibited from taking any under pain of a rather large monetary fine.