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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!

What’s on the DL in KL

So, truth be told, we did not spend as much time in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia as I would have liked. KL (as it is commonly referenced) is one of the main shopping cities with over 60 malls, and is the fashion and retail hub for Malaysia. How’s a girl ever really going to spend enough time there?

It was a whirlwind trip there and back with mere hours of layover in the city between Bangkok and Siem Reap, and then Siem Reap and Hanoi. We hit up Bukit Bintang, the shopping and entertainment district. Stepping off the Monorail it was like being transported to Times Square or Piccadilly Circus.

Of course we checked out Suria KLCC, which is the shopping mall located underneath the Petronas Twin Towers (the tallest twin buildings in the world).

We even stumbled across a photo shoot at Dataran Merdeka for a local designer.

The city is bursting with fashion, and I’m sad that I was not able to uncover more of it. But I guess everyone needs a reason to come back, right? 🙂

Bangkok a la Mode

No, not a side of ice cream, but rather a side of fashion. Fashion shows, events, window displays, and photo shoots – my trip had to Bangkok had it all.

Walking around the city, I saw several different fashion photo shoots taking place. They all seemed to juxtapose elegant and girly day wear with the cold, harsh concrete of an industrial city. What was more interesting was that they shot them in the middle of the day, incorporating the busy city life behind them.

We headed to the mall for some good deals – it’s the end of season sales – and were amazed at their window displays. Each was like a work of art, conveying the atmosphere of the store inside. How often do you really notice a store’s windows in the US? Even when you’re not interested what’s inside? Here are a few shots from my favorite window in Siam Center.

In addition to the windows pulling in the customers, there were independent display cases of style suggestions using items from various stores in the mall, complete with clothing, accessories, and shoes.

I love the idea of inspiration for the mall customer as a whole, versus simply catering to the customer strictly at a store’s window.

Of course shopping was not all that these malls offered. There was the Siam Center Energetic Fashion Show 2011 (mentioned earlier in another post), the Accademia Italiana Best Design 2011 Exhibit, and the 14th Anniversary for Cosmopolitan Magazine.

The Best Design exhibit was a temporary exhibit in the Siam Paragon displaying the top student designs from the Accademia Italiana.

The outfits were impressive, and you never know when you’re looking at the first works of the next big designer!

Outside the Siam Paragon, in the courtyard, was the 14th Anniversary bash for Cosmopolitan Magazine. There were DJs, balloons, food, and of course fun fashion.

Overall, I was quite surprised to see how fashion-centric Bangkok is. I knew there was a lot of shopping and luxury brands, but there is a larger fashion force at work in the city that was very interesting to see.