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Pri­jayanat Kalam­pa­sut peeks be­neath the pet­ti­coats of Maliwan Prayongphan's Body Se­cret lin­gerie busi­ness to dis­cover a unique wo­man be­hind the be­spoke ate­lier un­der­pin­ning the fash­ion flair of many dis­cern­ing ladies

Thailand Tatler - - CONTENTS -

Maliwan Prayongphan, founder of be­spoke lin­gerie brand Body Se­cret, is on a mis­sion to give women the per­fect sil­hou­ette. She talks to Pri­jayanat Kalam­pa­sut about busi­ness, life and her love of haute cou­ture

To feel con­fi­dent and at ease re­gard­less of one’s choice of at­tire and one’s body type is the de­sire of most women. But this sense of sar­to­rial self­as­sur­ance can be hard to achieve when choos­ing un­der­gar­ments in the right size can be an is­sue. And that’s where lo­cal lin­gerie brand Body Se­cret comes into its own. Es­tab­lished ap­prox­i­mately 15 years ago, the busi­ness is the brain­child of our cover lady Maliwan Prayongphan, also known as Kul.

Although orig­i­nally a south­erner from Hat Yai in Songkhla prov­ince, Kul re­lo­cated to Bangkok as a stu­dent when she en­rolled at Ramkhamhaeng Univer­sity. There she earned a bach­e­lor’s de­gree in busi­ness man­age­ment. Five years as a flight at­ten­dant for Sau­dia, the na­tional car­rier for Saudi Ara­bia, fol­lowed be­fore she re­turned to higher ed­u­ca­tion with a master’s de­gree in busi­ness at Bangkok Thon­buri Univer­sity.

It was dur­ing her days with the air­line that Kul no­ticed the strong in­ter­est in tai­lor-made un­der­gar­ments among Thais, lin­gerie that at the time was only re­ally avail­able in Ja­pan. “I used to fly there fre­quently to buy these gar­ments for my­self, for my boss and friends,” she says. “Even­tu­ally, I thought to my­self, why not cre­ate my own lin­gerie and sell it here.” In light of the po­ten­tial for her own busi­ness she be­gan re­search­ing the in­dus­try and learn­ing from what the Ja­panese were do­ing. She wasn’t afraid to ex­per­i­ment ei­ther and what be­gan as a se­ries of tri­als grad­u­ally evolved

into the op­er­a­tion she has to­day, a thriv­ing busi­ness with a loyal and ever-in­creas­ing high­end clien­tele. “Frankly, I am very proud of how far we have come, ba­si­cally through word of mouth,” she says.

Fol­low­ing the launch of Body Se­cret’s first out­let in Pin­klao, and greater de­mand from sat­is­fied clients, a se­cond branch at Cen­tral Chid­lom was es­tab­lished. To­day the com­pany has 10 bou­tiques across the coun­try, but the items they sell—given the ob­vi­ous high ex­pense of hand­made gar­ments—aren’t for every­one. “It is ex­pen­sive,” Kul ac­knowl­edges, “but in or­der to make it more ac­ces­si­ble, we of­fer the op­tion of pay­ment by in­stal­ments.”

Dis­tin­guish­ing it­self from reg­u­lar brands, Body Se­cret of­fers high-qual­ity, tai­lor-made pieces of un­der­wear metic­u­lously man­u­fac­tured by hand to meet the in­di­vid­ual needs and com­forts of cus­tomers. “At Body Se­cret we tai­lor each piece, which means our prod­ucts can­not be found on the racks in re­tail out­lets or listed in on­line stores like other brands,” Kul ex­plains. “Con­duct­ing de­tailed mea­sure­ments of each of our clients lies at the heart of our frame­work. We pro­vide a very per­son­alised ser­vice for the most per­sonal of gar­ments.” But in ad­di­tion to of­fer­ing madeto-mea­sure, ac­cord­ing to Kul, Body Se­cret boasts other ben­e­fits. “Our lin­gerie makes a wo­man feel con­fi­dent. Pieces are de­signed in­di­vid­u­ally for all shapes, sizes and re­quire­ments—to en­hance dé­col­letage and cleav­age, or to con­trol and hide ex­cess fat and pro­cure a slim­mer ap­pear­ance, all the while sup­port­ing the ab­domen and tight­en­ing the calves. Women love the sil­hou­ettes our un­der­gar­ments give them.”

Now aged 56, Kul is not yet ready to let go of the Body Se­cret reigns and re­mains as busy as ever with reg­u­lar client ap­point­ments. How­ever, she is also a mother of three sons—27-year-old Wacharayos and 24-year-old twins Wachara­pol and Wachara­pong—and wife to po­lice gen­eral Dr Wit­taya Prayongphan, whom she mar­ried over 30 years ago. “I have to ad­mit I haven’t al­ways been great at bal­anc­ing time be­tween fam­ily

“Our lin­gerie makes a wo­man feel con­fi­dent...they love the sil­hou­ettes our un­der­gar­ments give them.”

“If, in the fu­ture, I am in the po­si­tion to help ease the suf­fer­ing of the sickly and the dy­ing, I think it is in­cum­bent on me to do just that.”

and work, par­tic­u­larly when the chil­dren were young and Body Se­cret was be­gin­ning to grow sub­stan­tially,” she says. “How­ever, I am very lucky to have such a sup­port­ive hus­band who helped to take care of the kids when­ever I had my plate full. These days though we make sure to spend fam­ily time to­gether ev­ery Sun­day. We usu­ally meet up at one of Bangkok’s up­mar­ket malls, which may sound dull but it suits us be­cause there is the shop­ping, which is great for me, and movie the­atres for my sons and lots of great restau­rants to try to­gether—some­thing my hus­band likes to do.”

In­deed, Kul is a keen shop­per with a fond­ness for haute cou­ture and her vast col­lec­tion of count­less glam­orous fash­ion items shows it. She has a se­ri­ous col­lec­tion of dresses, watches, jew­ellery, bags, shoes…you name it. “I guess you can call it a hobby,” she laughs. “If I’m hon­est, I don’t have much time to ex­er­cise or go to the gym so an hour or two of shop­ping en­ables me to take a long walk. It also keeps me up­dated on what’s new and what’s in trend and helps me draw in­spi­ra­tion for Body Se­cret, where we like to stay cur­rent, creative and in­no­va­tive.”

A jet-set­ter at heart, Kul also en­joys trav­el­ling and takes reg­u­lar trips to Europe with her hus­band. “This year alone we have vis­ited Ger­many five times,” she says. A beauty treat­ment en­thu­si­ast, when she is over­seas her trips usu­ally in­clude vis­its to a beauty clinic where both she and her hus­band have been re­ceiv­ing stem cell ther­apy in an ef­fort to re­main young and re­ju­ve­nated.

Look­ing ahead, it is un­likely her sons, who each have their own am­bi­tions and nascent ca­reers, will be car­ry­ing on the Body Se­cret legacy. As for her­self, Kul plans to re­tire within the next five to six years. “The idea now is to train peo­ple in my team or in­ter­ested friends so they can take on the busi­ness and for the com­pany to be able to con­tinue with­out me,” she says. So far, Body Se­cret is in a league of its own. Be­ing the sole provider of such ser­vices and prod­ucts here also means no com­peti­tors. “The fact that the brand has grown to where it is to­day is al­ready a big ac­com­plish­ment for me,” she says.

For all her busi­ness drive Kul also has a spir­i­tual side and in re­tire­ment she says she will ded­i­cate much of her time to med­i­ta­tion and live life ac­cord­ing to the teach­ings of Bud­dha. “In this way en­light­en­ment and true hap­pi­ness can be found, par­tic­u­larly per­tain­ing to no­tions of life and death,” she ex­plains. “We will all pass away one day. It is part of a nat­u­ral cy­cle and Bud­dha’s teach­ings en­cour­age us to find a vir­tu­ous and peace­ful state of mind in the mo­ments be­fore death. That is some­thing I want to fo­cus on in the fu­ture. I also hope to pass on this knowl­edge to my chil­dren.”

A be­liever in giv­ing back to so­ci­ety, she re­cently par­tic­i­pated in the es­tab­lish­ment of a care cen­tre for the men­tally ill in Put­tha­mon­thon and says, “I think it is im­por­tant to help the less for­tu­nate and give back where pos­si­ble. If, in the fu­ture, I am in a po­si­tion to help ease the suf­fer­ing of the sickly and dy­ing, I think it is in­cum­bent on me to do just that.”

retro chic (Above) Kul looks to the near past for a clas­sic ensem­ble; (op­po­site) a flo­ral print by Dolce & Gab­bana com­pli­ments her sunny out­look on life

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