Blog Archives

Copy That? Vietnam’s Fashion Scene

It’s relatively well known that Asia is full of tailors who can whip up anything you can dream of in a matter of days – especially the high end brand designs. All throughout Vietnam, tailor shops line the crowded streets surrounding the mass chaos that is the fabric market.

(One of Ho Chi Minh City’s fabric markets)

In fact, one of the top tourist destinations for this process is the small town of Hoi An. Currently a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the former major trading post in the 16th and 17th centuries, the town still displays its western influences in its architecture and tourist industry. Aside from the amazing historical significance of this town, Westerners come with an agenda – to shop. Almost every store in Old Town is geared towards shopping. You can have dresses, coats, suits, shirts, shoes, jewelry, etc all tailored to you!

One store in particular is a small, independent local designer’s store – Papillon Noir. Uyen Trinh creates silk pieces with hand-painted designs. She began her first business in 1994, combining her love of fashion as well as the nature and personality of Vietnam. On a trip to India Uyen expanded her color palette and artistic style, combining fashion and art – adopting a western techniques. Her current store, Papillion Noir, was created in 2007, and continues to thrive in Hoi An with 3 different locations. In addition to creating beautifully elegant clothing, visitors have the opportunity to learn silk painting in her workshop. Below is a couple of shots of her boutique!

I wish I could have stayed in one place for longer! I’m currently getting a couple dresses and shirts tailored, but I could definitely go for a personalized wardrobe! It is interesting that even in the ready-to-wear category that unlike Japan, Vietnam has a rather Westernized sense of fashion. The structure of the clothes is the same, but the fabric may be a bit shinier or showy compared to the rather understated tones of say, New York. My friend and I are hitting up Saigon Square today to check out the ready-to-wear fashions, and you never know what kind of shiny clothes we’ll come back with!

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It’s Getting Riel in Siem Reap

First, I’d like to apologize about the massive delay in posting – apparently traveling non-stop doesn’t allow one to regularly post. So I’ve decided to do just one all-inclusive post on my trip to Siem Reap, Cambodia. As you can imagine, there weren’t as many fashion statements made as in Bangkok – most of them being it’s the rainy season and I’m muddy. Besides just outfits though, there was a lot of Cambodian silk, which I certainly took a part of, buying some beautiful scarves. One of the interesting trends in Southeast Asia now is using exotic locations for your wedding portrait backdrop. We stumbled across a wedding party at Angkor Wat during our visit.

I’d say the highlight of my trip though, besides the amazing temples (like Angkor Wat and Ta Prohm, the temple from Tomb Raider), was the food. I definitely have a new favorite cuisine. Traditional Khmer curries, amok, fresh spring rolls – it was all so delicious.

There were times when we’d stuff ourselves too full and have to wander around the Old Market to burn some calories. Isn’t life just awful? 😉 There was a lovely bonding moment with our tuk tuk driver when, during lunch, one of us ate too hot of a pepper and had to resort to gulping fresh coconut milk to cool off. Burning your mouth with spicy food is definitely cross cultural. Overall, I had an amazing time in Cambodia: watching the sun rise over Angkor Wat,

the friendly staff at the Golden Banana Bed & Breakfast (including our awesome tuk tuk driver, whom you should totally check out should you find yourself in Siem Reap! http://tuktukangkorenglishdriver.wordpress.com/)

fruit and bread picnics at the temples, etc. I can see why everyone loves this place, and I’ll miss it for sure.