Home Style Cambodia’s Siem Reap, A Surprisingly Inventive Hub of Vogue and Design

Cambodia’s Siem Reap, A Surprisingly Inventive Hub of Vogue and Design

Cambodia’s Siem Reap, A Surprisingly Inventive Hub of Vogue and Design

Like the remainder of Cambodia, Siem Reap is rising from a tragic, darkish previous. A long time of battle and unrest resulted in an unlimited lack of life and a deep and gaping wound within the nation’s cultural heritage, creative capability, and, extra broadly, its educated class.

In the course of the Khmer Rouge rule within the Seventies, two million Cambodians have been killed, together with an estimated 90 % of intellectuals and artists. Some escaped to Thailand, France, Japan, and different nations, offering refuge. The Cambodian civil battle additional weakened the nation and its assets earlier than ending in 1991.

Contemplating this creating nation’s troubled previous, it could be stunning how rapidly trend designers and creatives have stepped onto the worldwide stage to showcase what the Kingdom presents.

Success could also be attributed to a number of components. Internationally educated Cambodian artists are returning and rediscovering their nation’s story and educating others in its historic crafts. Worldwide artisans are lured to this awakening nation with its beautiful uncooked supplies and wealthy cultural heritage. Others coming to help the restoration are serving to locals develop self-supporting artistic industries.

Maybe a testomony to the pure creativity of the Cambodian individuals is the engineering, grandeur, artistry, and class of the traditional Khmer capital, Angkor Wat, and its magnificent ruins courting again to the 9th to fifteenth centuries. Right now, with almost 60 % of the nation’s inhabitants within the extremely productive ages of 15 to 54, Cambodia harnesses that creativity because it appears to make up misplaced time.

Let me introduce you to native and worldwide creatives garnering worldwide consideration and acclaim whereas including to Cambodia’s new and thrilling creative story.

Romyda Keth creations
Romyda Keth creations

Romyda Keth

Leaving Cambodia at simply 5 along with her diplomatic corps mother and father, because the troubles began in 1971, meant rising up in Prague after which Paris for Romyda Keth. After finding out at Ecole des Beaux-Arts de Paris, she entered the Parisian Esmod Faculty of Vogue Design.

Recognizing expertise, the US division retailer chain Macy’s provided Romyda a place as a designer even earlier than she had accomplished her apprenticeship program. Romyda additionally started showcasing her collections in small Paris boutiques in live performance with a hat designer good friend. Vogue exhibits, media protection in prestigious ladies’s magazines, and the acclaim of her first clients adopted.

Romyda Keth creations
Romyda Keth creations

Along with her Biologist husband’s prompting, Romyda lastly returned, with their two youngsters, to the nation of her roots in 1994. Cambodia had little in the way in which of infrastructure to help within the improvement of her work. With shoppers in Paris nonetheless clamoring for Romyda’s creations, a makeshift workshop was arrange in a nook of her residence. The nation’s riches of embroidery strategies, high-quality Khmer silk, organza, and the range of colours turned new loves including inspiration for Romyda ladies’s put on traces.

Romyda’s shopper base is lively ladies who wish to exude magnificence in each state of affairs. Her patterns are undeniably female, with clothes highlighting the determine and becoming the curves. Coloring is a harmonious mix of shades and supplies, versatile and high-quality. International luminaries like Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the Worldwide Financial Fund (IMF), have been entranced by Romyda Keth’s designs.

Almost three a long time later, Romyda has her lovely atelier and showrooms in Phnom Penh, Ambre boutiques in Siem Reap and Raffles Phnom Penh, and companion shops in Tokyo, Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Australia, plus Houston, Texas.

Eric Raisina Runway Collection
Eric Raisina Runway Assortment

Eric Raisina

Madagascan-born and Paris-trained Eric Raisina is a grasp of textile and trend. Turning down a design function with Yves Saint Laurent, Eric moved to Siem Reap in 2001 to discover Khmer artisanal silk weaving. He’s now thought of one among Cambodia’s most internationally famend trend designers, having referred to as the nation residence for the final 20 years.

Although Cambodia is residence, Paris stays his trend playground. A lover of the Twenties golden age of French high fashion, he studied on the Duperré Faculty of Utilized Arts and the Institut Français de la Mode. Eric has collaborated with such luminaries as Christian Lacroix and Yves Saint Laurent. His seasonal collections function at worldwide trend exhibits, together with Paris. Till lately, he had a boutique within the French capital.

Eric Raisina Temple Photo collection
Eric Raisina Temple Picture assortment

His hyper-creative and enchanting garments are distinguished by his use of vibrant colours and textures, akin to his personal silk ‘fur’ and ‘raffia’ improvements. Eric’s attire additionally showcases the ability of native craftspersons, who, along with his steerage, have revitalized the artwork of weaving luxurious Cambodian silk utilizing a number of looms. The pandemic noticed the closure of his Couture Home; nevertheless, Eric Raisina Haute Texture stays obtainable in his central Siem Reap boutique.

Worldwide flights are returning guests to Siem Reap. Nevertheless, it’s the unique constitution flights with trend and art-conscious clientele who are actually securing personal showings and searching for time with this artistic titan. Even well-known Siem Reap guests, together with Angelina Jolie, have been positive to seize their very own Eric Raisina authentic whereas on the town.

KOW new to range espadrilles
KOW new to vary espadrilles

Kingdom Of Wow (KOW)

Embracing sluggish trend, the moral model Kingdom of Wow (KOW) combines on a regular basis luxurious with sustainability. Made in Siem Reap, they produce footwear that’s comfy, trendy, and made to final. All merchandise are handmade with uncooked supplies sourced responsibly by native ladies who earn honest wages in a secure and empowering workspace. ​Kingdom of Wow footwear encourages a gentler tempo and discovery of hygge, a Scandinavian idea of making a temper of cozy contentment that fosters wellness and self-care.

Previously a diplomat in Shanghai earlier than transferring to Cambodia along with her household, Dutch nationwide Godie van De Paal needed to maintain a unbelievable, handmade product alive and produced ethically. Godie explains, “I’ve worn hand-crocheted wool slippers for so long as I can bear in mind. I bought mine from a woman that unraveled outdated sweaters and repurposed the wool. When she retired, I requested if I might take ahead her idea.”

A number of years into the enterprise, the designs have advanced. The hand-crochet stays the identical, however the repurposed yarn is changed with a wealthy mix of Lopi wool and eco-friendly bamboo with supple leather-based soles added. The footwear is handmade “from thread to toe.” A yr in the past, ladies’s and males’s espadrilles have been launched to the vary.

KOW hiptop slippers
KOW hiptop slippers

Having bought a pair of wool slippers, Dutch luxurious shoe designer Floris van Bommel was so enamored; he secured a co-branded vary of KOW footwear for his clientele. Options in Vogue, plus devoted exhibits at New York and Paris Vogue weeks, have actually obtained individuals speaking—Godie and her group dream of seeing Snoop Dogg all hygge in a pair of their handmade slippers.

KOW footwear is offered via their (US and EU) web sites and chosen stores in Siem Reap.

MANAVA handwoven rattan black bag
MANAVA handwoven rattan black bag


Netherlands-born Ka-Lai Chan accomplished a product design diploma from the College of Arts in Utrecht. Since 2009, she has labored as an impartial designer with a number of worldwide design manufacturers. In 2016 on a two-month volunteer alternative to Cambodia, she started to appreciate a dream.

Ka-Lai researched native conventional arts, spending time with households within the countryside. She was captivated by the nation, the real, cheerful, and relaxed individuals, and the gorgeous crafts. She additionally realized that behind the grins, they have been struggling to assist their households. Many had unimaginable weaving abilities but solely earned a month-to-month common of $50 to $70.

Using her design and entrepreneurial abilities, Ka-Lai partnered with Baraing Tho, an area Khmer artistic with the identical imaginative and prescient, creating MANAVA. Translated from Sanskrit, MANAVA means humankind. MANAVA helps these rural ladies, offering them with a secure and sustainable future whereas additional creating their conventional weaving crafts.

MANAVA handwoven rattan black bag
MANAVA handwoven rattan black bag

Villagers sustainably harvest a skinny fast-growing “pdau” rattan palm and a willow grass referred to as “la paek.” After drying for a month and stripping, the willows are prepared for molding and weaving. With artistic enter from the weavers, the hand-woven baggage, baskets, or different items are created – taking as much as three days. Pure plant dyes add ornamental coloration to the items. MANAVA is at the moment offering 24 feminine artisans with a good revenue.

MANAVA’s trend merchandise can be found via their web site and chosen stores in Siem Reap. Moreover, because of publicity on the “Maison et Objet” design commerce honest in Paris final yr, European retailers are choosing up these hand-crafted, well-designed artisanal items with an amazing sustainable back-story.


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