Interviewing Thai fashion designers and photographing models backstage during the 2011 Bangkok International Fashion Week was the last thing we expected to be doing when we went to Bangkok to work on a first edition Hedonist’s Guide to the city.

While it’s not unusual to find us in restaurant kitchens interviewing chefs or out and about researching destination features, we don’t normally cover fashion shows. I do, however, write about shopping – everything from vintage clothes to contemporary design – and I was in the process of compiling shopping entries for the book when a magazine editor we do a lot of work for emailed to ask if I knew much about Thai fashion…

A week later, Terence and I found ourselves backstage at Siam Paragon among the long-legged models, ‘flamboyant’ make-up artists and hairdressers, eccentrically-dressed stylists, and some seriously suave fashion designers, all of whom were busy preparing for a mini-fashion show scheduled to follow the 2011 Bangkok International Fashion Week press conference.

And the following week, during the shows themselves, Terence found himself backstage once again, getting additional shots, while I found myself in the front row, soaking up the atmosphere, for a cover story on Thai fashion designers. But more on that in the next post.

So what was it like? It was great fun actually. While there were few surprises – perhaps because we’ve been privy to so many backstage fashion show scenes in so many Hollywood movies – it was still fascinating.

The pace of preparations was slower than I expected, the atmosphere was more relaxed, and the models were all very friendly and professional. I guess I expected a hyper vibe, harried atmosphere, a few divas, and a tantrum or two.

While my expectations were met on most levels, I was pleased that a couple of myths were busted. Namely that not all fashion people are shallow and superficial. The depth of thinking and creativity that goes into creating collections is astonishing, and I’ll share more on that in an upcoming series on my favourite Thai designers. And models do eat. Some even eat a lot. They really do! We saw them!

It occurred to me that attending a fashion show is a fabulous way for a travelling fashionista to get beneath the skin of a place they’re visiting, and while most people wouldn’t get a chance to get a peak behind the scenes, there’s always a chance of scoring tickets to a show. In Bangkok, a certain number of tickets (along with no-show seats) are given to fashion students. Contact the information office at Siam Paragon, the event hosts, for more details.

Bangkok International Fashion Week
Siam Paragon

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