Bangkok: Infinity and Beyond
I believe Carrie Bradshaw when she says, “I like my money where I can see it…hanging in my closet.” A four-day escapade to the land of ‘true copy’ and crazy bargains doesn’t call for serenity or de-stressing. But what went into the planning of this ‘holiday’ were ardent lists that involved brands unavailable in India, a meticulously curated wish-list, and a detailed instruction booklet of the exact malls to be covered in the meagre time span we had been allotted. An empty-travel-bag-housing-another-empty-duffel-bag later, Bangkok welcomed the effervescent shop-a-holic with some of the largest retail conglomerates the little city can handle.
Central Embassy holds true to its motto of Infinite Possibilities, with fluid architecture, an ocean of luxury brands, interesting eat-outs and of course, a dazzling rooftop bar – one Bangkok is famous for. The very first installation that catches your eye is an oxymoronic piece of art – an adorable yet Herculean bronze sculpture of a horse by artist Fernando Botero. Funnily enough, he is called Freddy. Freddy is surrounded by a small pool of water, since the Thai believe that a horse near water is a symbol of good luck. A selfie with the sculpture was absolutely called for.
The infinity-shaped, 37-floor building is the latest addition to Bangkok’s arsenal of retail stores – an artistic delight with a glaring combination of contemporary contours and a touch of Thai-ness. Inspired by Thai temples, the external skin of the building is a stunning composition of 300,000 pieces of aluminum shingles placed at variant angles. Even with my shades on, I couldn’t miss the fascinating play of light. The interesting section of this artistic masterpiece is the retail podium consisting of eight floors replete with international brands and world-known designers.
Seven iconic flagship stores rest on the ground floor. The classic monochromes of Chanel caught my attention along with a window display of twirled wire. On close inspection, I figured that the mere scrawling cast a shadow on the plain white background that read ‘To be irreplaceable you must be different’. Well, they clearly nailed it. Hermès, known for its chic comfort and clean lines, showcased a minimalist window display with origami-like birds taking flight and prancing rabbits amidst sleek bags, all in primary shades. The Louboutin store had little altars carved for each of their sacred stilettoes.
Moschino had mannequins in life-sized bird cages, while Kenzo took the road less travelled flirting with the newest concept of digital displays. The double-storied Ralph Lauren housed a matte black Ducati of which pictures were quickly Instagrammed and sent to people who I believed were into that kind of thing. An out-of-this-world display that took me on a clicking spree was that of Kurt Geiger. The shoe chandelier hanging in the middle of the store was everything a modern Cinderella would never leave behind.
One of the most notable stores was that of Matina Amanita – a local jewellery brand. Reminiscent of the mystic and magical world of Harry Potter, the walls are washed in royal blue with specks of stars on the ceiling. Old sepia-toned photographs layer the walls, and a miniature desk sits at a corner complete with a matching blue feathered pen. The final leg of Central Embassy had me fancy the Levi’s store. Quite ignored in our own city, Bangkok effectively surprises a jeans-lover. This boutique is the only one in Asia that displays vintage Levi’s including some of their earliest creations. If you are into old-world couture, you’ve hit gold.
As I made my way to the iconic Central Chidlom building, I felt that I was metaphorically moving from the future to the past. Chidlom is constructed of many kiosks housing a variety of brands. But what made the experience truly unique was the miniature haute couture – luxe baby clothes! Mini-boutiques comprised brands like Little Dior with their classic houndstooth pattern on little jackets and structured dresses. I couldn’t miss the miniature Gucci yellow diamante tote seated next to two gold teddy bears. Flashy Kenzo, a marshmallow purple display for Young Versace, Paul Smith Junior, Ralph Lauren and a graphic-oriented Little Marc Jacobs are some of the few things we approve of…that come in tiny packages.
The ultimate pit-stop had to be Central World, with its quirky art installations and promises of being the most exciting store in South-East Asia. Stop by American Rag Cie only to be flipped by pop art dotting the walls, a piano-inspired seater and strange postcards that read ‘I know in my heart that you lied’. 4x4Men showcased an entire curtain of the Pac-man installation in paper craft as a backdrop to their mannequins. Noir Footwork had mannequins with super-sized robotic heads, Soda – a Thai brand had a composed figure with a label that read ‘save me’, while Kate Spade took the Japanese route with a Hello Tokyo theme showcasing Harajuku flavours.
Sore feet and a plethora of shopping bags later, the last and most vivid memory I bring home is a Tokidoki larger-than-life statue of Karl Lagerfeld and his beloved cat, Choupette!
Centara Grand at CentralWorld
Centara Grand & Bangkok Convention Centre at CentralWorld is in the very heart of Bangkok’s shopping and business district. This five-star hotel is ideal for those shopping, sightseeing, or on business. The hotel offers a spectacular view from its guestrooms and restaurants, and provides a satisfying blend of interesting activities and plush living. A complete lifestyle complex on the 26th floor includes the SPA Cenvaree along with a fitness centre, tennis court and an outdoor pool. A must-visit is the Red Sky rooftop bistro on the 55th floor of the hotel.
Don’t miss our curation of the must-visit restaurants in Bangkok.