Siam Costumes: A Voyage around The World

421406_395770317135162_962832615_nA Voyage around The World

Day 92

Although its has only been a quarter the way through 2015, it’s already turning out to be an incredible year, with Siam Costumes currently engaged in projects covering 5 out of the 7 continents of the world, from land to sea.

The Crew and I are very excited to venture further into new Territory , and due to how busy we have been I apologies for the lack of log entries.

So far on our journey we have stopped in the luxurious Ferrari World Abu Dhabi ,Royal Caribbean Cruise Line and Norwegian Cruise Line in Florida, Historical Emporium and Waterfall in California, The Originals in Georgia, Kunsthuis Opera Vlaanderen in Belgium, National Opera in Finland, Peter Pan in Luxembourg, Singing In The Rain; Moscow, Knights of The Roundtable, Sound of Music, Shrek World in England, Dr Who in Wales, Madame Tussaud’s Singapore, Aida Opera Australia, New Zealand and Of Kings and Prophets in South Africa.

Thankfully with so much in the works it seems our journey will not be ending anytime soon…


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Busy Bee’s

As usual Siam’s Little Helpers have been busy at work, with more than one production at once costumes have been flying out of the workshop, from WW1 uniforms,1900 mens frock coats and suits to traditional Siamese costumes.

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Here you can see Rampai one of our pattern cutters, cutting out some fabric for the WW2 uniforms.

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I’ve caught Sak by surprise as he’s constructing one of the men’s WW1 tunics, best leave him to it.

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Gorya and Nok supply the finishing touches to the traditional Siamese costumes.

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Patiently waiting, almost ready.

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Sebastian sorting out the financial accounts.

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Alexander working on the social networks and marketing.

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Not entirely sure what sing is trying to accomplish here, but that’s all for today.

2013: Theatre and Opera

Now 2013 has came and gone and 2014 is now amongst us, we have the time to reflect on what has been yet another great year. In this post we will purely be focusing on our stage work, that saw its premier this year and a sneak peek into whats to come next year. From finding love in  Nazi occupied Rome or deep in the jungle of the unknown, occupied by dinosaurs and other inscrutable beasts along with many more memorable stage moments of 2013.

1.King Kong-Live on stage

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Based on the 1930’s instant classic,King Kong live on stage tells the tale of how beauty killed the beast in an engaging musical form, It received a great reception, praised for being visually stunning with an all round very talented cast, winning many awards including “Outstanding Theatrical Achievement”, “Best Sound Design”and “Best Costume Design” which was awarded to Roger Kirk. Originally being booked from june to July however due to its well deserved success, it has  been rebooked for a third time taking the show all the way to february 2014.  The producer Carmen Pavlovic of Global Creatures told The Times that she anticipates launching a second production of King Kong in 2014, with a third to follow in 2015. Plans have been announced to bring the show to the United StatesEnglandSouth KoreaGermanyJapan and the Netherlands. So for any one who didn’t get the chance to witness King Kong on stage do not worry, the 8th wonder of the world may set sail for overseas.

2.The Force of Destiny: La Forza Del Destino-Opera Australia

The Force of Destiny, Opera Australia

La Forza Del Destino:The force of Destiny is an Italian opera by Giuseppe Verdi. The libretto was written by Francesco Maria Piave based on a Spanish drama, Don Álvaro o la fuerza del sino (1835), by Ángel de Saavedra, 3rd Duke of Rivas. Presenting Verdi’s most notorious prelude, as Leonora and Alvaro are destined to be with one and another despite her family’s disapproval. They are set to become a one even if it means running away, although they end up far from their desires as they are caught amongst the tide of war. You are invited into a journey of honour and passion merging with vendetta and death, in this historical classic. The Force of Destiny received reviews such as; “This thrilling new production uses the powerful iconography of Spain in richly detailed sets and costumes. An all-star international cast is led by Svetla Vassileva”.

3.The Wizard Of Oz -North American Tour

Wizard of Oz, Mirvish Productions Toronto

The Wizard of Oz is a musical based on the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz, with a book adapted by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Jeremy Sams. The musical uses the Harold Arlen and E. Y. Harburg songs from the film and includes a variety of new likeable songs and additional music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and additional lyrics by Tim Rice. Starring Danielle Wade as Dorothy, who was chosen by the Canadian public through the very popular CBC TV‘s reality show “Over The Rainbow”, the national tour features the same award-winning creative team from London and Toronto so we can expect another implausible instalment.

4. Tosca-Opera Australia

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Opera Australia’s Tosca, Puccini’s riveting drama of a stimulating  combination of love, jealousy and sacrifice.Director John Bell, joins forces with award-winning set designer Michael Scott-Mitchell and costume designer Teresa Negroponte in this pure, unforgettable show. The setting of Tosca as we originally knew was the French invasion of Rome in 1800, director John Bell smoothly adapted it to a Nazi controlled Rome, a very bold move that proved to be an admirable call; “His deeply felt updating of the action to 1943 Nazi occupied Rome is both appropriate and striking, bringing what can seem a schlock costume drama into sharp focus and reminding us of how Puccini’s issues of freedom, love, jealousy and tyranny still resonate today.”

5. Carmen-Opera Australia 

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Carmen is an opera in four acts by the French composer Georges Bizet. The libretto was written by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy, based on a novella of the same title by Prosper Mérimée. You take the director Gale Edwards alongside costume designer Julie Lynch then you have the perfect combination to revisit the exciting world of Carmen. In this breathtaking production from Opera Australia, following the downfall of Don José, just another soldier who was seduced by the seductive, attractive, fierce Gypsy, Carmen. Jose without a second thought abandons his childhood love and his regiment, blinded by what he believes to be love, although Carmens fallen for a captivating toreador Escamillo, Jose is pumping with rage and is looking to take revenge for his broken heart.

Upcoming Next year

Wether metropolitan Opera premiers (February 2014)

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Werther is an opera (‘Drame lyrique’) in four acts by Jules Massenet to a French libretto by Édouard BlauPaul Milliet and Georges Hartmann, based on the Germanepistolary novel The Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, based partly on fact and Goethe’s own early life. Jonas Kaufmann stars in the title role of Massenet’s sublime adaptation of Goethe’s revolutionary and tragic romance, opposite Sophie Koch as Charlotte. The new production is directed and designed by Richard Eyre and Rob Howell, the same team that created the Met’s recent hit staging of Carmen. Rising young maestro Alain Altinoglu conducts. Set to make its debut on February next year.

 

King and I (September 2014)

The_King_&_I_Photo_courtesy_of_Opera_AustraliaThe King and I is a musical, the fifth by the team of composer Richard Rodgers and dramatist Oscar Hammerstein II. It is based on the 1944 novel Anna and the King of Siam by Margaret Landon, which derives from the memoirs of Anna Leonowensgoverness to the children of King Mongkut of Siam in the early 1860s. The musical’s plot relates the experiences of Anna, a British schoolteacher hired as part of the King’s drive to modernize his country.This now legendary production of The King and I won the triple crown of awards: The Tony, the Drama Desk and the Outer Critics Circle for Best Musical Revival. Further Tony and Drama Desk awards included Best Scenic Design and Best Costume Design, and a Laurence Olivier Award nomination. Much-loved Australian actress and four-time Gold Logie winner Lisa McCune plays English governess Anna Leonowens, while internationally acclaimed opera singer Teddy Tahu Rhodes takes on his second musical theatre role as the King of Siam. Set to open at a Gala performance on 10th of September.

Company Cribs: Siam Costumes Part 2

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Your back already!? This time we shall venture into the second building and have a look at the workshop , a collection of rare authentic fabrics along with other hidden gems.

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As you can see our workshop is split into two sides, as most of the time we will be working on several productions at once. This way it makes it a lot easier to oversee our work.

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If you look closely you may notice the black and white striped fabric. Any ideas ,apart from prisoners and robbers who can be seen in a black and white striped clothes? No luck, how about that quirky fella Beetlejuice.

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So that’s the ground floor where all the magic happens, let’s make our way upstairs and see what we can find.

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I can see Michael in our second pattern cutting room , let’s go and have a look and see what he’s up to.

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We finally found Sebastian, call off the search and rescue team and Michael Sloan who I mentioned in a previous blog, I won’t hesitate to describe him as one of the best pattern cutters in America. Young grasshopper Sebastian is lucky to be able to have michael teach him few tips about pattern cutting. I best leave them to it.

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This room is very popular among costume designers, in fact any one who works within the costume industry. It would be rude not to step inside.

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We call this, the room of natural beauty, I’m joking its referred to as the northern room. This authentic library of fabric has been stocking up for over the past 10-15 years from northern Thailand, Laos, Burma and Cambodia.

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I once had the pleasure of going up to a small town in northern Thailand as Darryl was visiting some factories to buy some cotton, whilst he was looking through the mountains of fabric he told me when he goes to these factories he feels like a little kid in a sweet store, he also said that his wife hates him going up here as he can’t help but buy “too much” fabric although when he sees an unusual fabric he is already thinking of which type of film or stage production it could be used on.

Thats enough of that, up to the last floor of this building.

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At the top of the stairs, you are greeted by draws and draws of files, here is an example of some. We don’t just store everything on the computers as its not practical at times when we need to refer back to styles, patterns etc. See if you can notice any previous productions.

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Not one of the most popular rooms of the building, but never the less one of the most important. Here is another library this time of previous patterns from many different productions, this is useful as sometimes costumes will repeat itself especially suits, shirts, etc so it saves a lot of time rather than having to construct a new pattern each time.

And once again we have come to an end, for now. Next time we will be showing you around the 3rd and final building, where you will get to see our notorious stock room, our fabric sample room and others you will just have to wait and see, until next time.

Company Cribs: Siam Costumes Part 1

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Today I shall be giving you a tour around our office/ workshop, which is located deep in the heart of Bangkok. Whether its the thousands upon thousands yards of fabric, the highly skilled Siam little helper’s or the memorable costumes from Inglorious Basterds to   The Wolverine, we will be taking you behind the closed curtains.
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This is the first of three buildings, shall we go and have a look?
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At the ground floor is one room among several where we stock thousands of yards of fabric, from Shirting, Suiting, Linen, Lining, Satin and Interfacing. Who knows when you may see them again perhaps on the big screen, on stage, in a hotel, in a theme park or on a cruise ship, the possibilities are endless.
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Its no wonder why on a special occasion where we get some garments made for us we take a long time picking our choice of fabric as we are truly spoilt for choice. Thats enough of this floor lets make our way up the stairs.
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As we enter the 2nd floor, we can see one of our two pattern cutting rooms. Lets have a little sneak peak then see what they’re up to.
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Arif one of our key pattern cutters seems to be in deep thought whilst he constructs a pattern. At the moment he’s working on the latest order from Universal Studios Singapore.
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Rampai who has been taken under the wing of Arif for over a year now. Very happy to see us as usual whilst also promoting world peace. Shall we make our way to the top floor.
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Hang on first of all we have to try to make it past the bosses private security guard Basil, good to see though he’s doing his job and guarding the fort.
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Here is Alex one of our young Admin/Sales advisors, he must of heard us scuffling up the stairs past the big bad dog. Looks like were missing Sebastian , perhaps we will find him lurking around one of the other buildings.
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We finally arrive at the kings chambers, Darryl is busy working plus he’s already given us an interview not so long ago so I won’t interrupt him. If you look closely you may notice some fabric samples on his desk, which is for the next production in the pipeline which I will keep you posted on. The tour for the first building has drawn to an end, next time I shall be showing you around the workshop where you can be introduced to Siam’s little helpers, more of extensive fabric collection as well as memorable costumes.

The Long way round

Yesterday morning I caught up with the founder and owner of Siam Costumes: Darryl Kent-Morris, I wanted to find out where it all began, Why he chose this sector of the industry and how he got to where he is now.

1. Who would you say are your main customers?

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“Well you see our client base, it falls into two main areas that being corporate, and entertainment. However more often than not, they crossover to one another, but we try to differentiate between the two. On the corporate side it is The Cameron Macintosh Theatre Group and  Merlin Entertainment. Most people wouldnt know who they both are but Cameron Macintosh is most probably one of the world’s biggest musical producers , owning the rights for hit musicals such as Cats, Les Miserables, and Phantom of the Opera, which just happens to be 3 of the longest running musical stage productions ever. Merlin owns Seaworld, Legoland and Madam Tussaud’s plus a whole  host of other theme park type venues, and it is recognised as the second largest entertainment company after Disney . On the entertainment side Andrew Llyod Webber’s Really Useful Group has to be up there along with HBO and BBC“.

2. When did you first realise that you had a passion for clothes?

“Ever since I was young child I’ve always had a love for history, most people don’t realise that one of the key element of our pasts was what people wore, and unlike now it was usually for practical reasons such as riding a horse and what fabric and dyes were available. Therefore getting involved in costumes was a natural progression”.

3. What inspired you to start your own business in the manufacturing sector rather than work your way up in an established company?

“I never really wanted to work for someone and I have done everything possible to avoid it. One of my first businesses I ever had was a landscape gardening company, which I still love above all else. I do enjoy the freedom and flexibility I have working for myself, and resting something from nothing but like everything it also has its disadvantages”.

4. Have you always shown an interest to costumes within the entertainment industry?

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“Yes one of the first films I saw and took as much interest in the costumes as the plot, was Sergio Leone‘s “Once upon a time in America”  and the costume designer was Gabriella Pescucci and who is still one of my favourite costume designers”.

5. What was the greatest moment so far for Siam Costumes?

“When I took the big step of manufacturing internally rather than externally. So being able to produce all of our work in-house, and for the first time we were able to oversee our work entirely from start to finish, plus gives the added bonus  of continuously improving our employees skills”.

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6. What made you take the leap from tailoring for members of the public to manufacturing for the entertainment industry?

“The Commercial reason is that the rewards are greater, primarily as I said being based in Bangkok I am unable to visit clients personally. The general public also don’t know what they require, so therefore need our involvement a lot of the time. Unlike designers, but being based where we are it is impossible for us to visit every client each and every time they want a new garment. Not to mention that the public obviously don’t require historical garment’s to be made, which for me is one of the most important factors of why I’ve chosen to do what I am doing”.

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7. Where would you like to see Siam Costumes within the next 10 years?

“I would like to see my two sons taking over the day to day running of the business, plus at least one more workshop opening in South-East Asia, which could happen soon so watch this space”.

8. Having worked within the Industry for as long as you have, Is there anything that still surprises you?

“Thats a good question, I could say the time someone who I won’t name threatened to have me “whacked” by a combination of the Russian Mafia, half a dozen of his East-European henchmen and an ex C.I.A agent for good measure,but we don’t need to go into that. I would say the ability of individuals that have worked for us to exceed my expectations. When ever I look back of what we have produced in the past 30 years I am always surprised and elated on how far we have progressed and achieved”.

9. What are the advantages of working in Thailand?

“Because of the history of the tourist trade there is a ready pool of skilled labour, who if given time and careful instruction can learn  to meet the perfection that Broadway and Hollywood demand. Lest we forget the climate, that beats hands down the English weather, the fantastic cuisine, the general ambiance of the place Thailand for all intents and purposes is safe. Last but not least South-East Asia is part of the world’s eppi centre for fabric and ancillary items which enables us make our clientele’s  work far more interesting”.

10.  Which production that you have worked on, have you found the most interesting from a costume perspective and why?

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“Most probably Winters Tale last year, because it took the required competence of our staff to a whole new level and from a personal interest the beginning of the 20th century is still my favourite period of men’s clothing”.

11. If you had to do it all over again is there anything that you would do differently from a business persecutive?

“Yes I would like to have completed a men’s tailoring course. I truly believe my weakest point is that I am not a tailor and like anything in life its important to lead by example, although there again the last 30 years have been extremely interesting, and lets be honest does the Chairman of General Motors know how to ensemble an engine? most probably not but does he really need to”