SIEM REAP: STYLISH SHOPPING

Johnny Mor­ris

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - NEWS - JOHNNY MOR­RIS

ERIC RAISINA:

Haute Cou­ture The king of Kh­mer cou­ture, in­ter­na­tion­ally ac­claimed Mada­gas­car-born fashion de­signer Eric Raisina has been the toast of Cam­bo­dia’s fa­mous tem­ple town since he opened his orig­i­nal haute cou­ture out­let close to Siem Reap’s royal res­i­dence in 2005. The con­sis­tently high qual­ity of his work has con­trib­uted to the trans­for­ma­tion of the town from a ser­vice stop for Angkor Wat to a fash­ion­able desti­na­tion in its own right. The de­signer was in­spired to set up shop in Siem Reap after a visit in 1996 to the an­cient site in­tro­duced him to lo­cal silk weavers who used tech­niques “as old as the tem­ples”. To­day his team of 40 is en­tirely lo­cal and his de­signs draw heav­ily from tem­ple ar­chi­tec­ture and Cam­bo­dia’s trop­i­cal trees and plants. Cus­tomers in­ter­ested in learn­ing more about his work can ob­serve his team in ac­tion at his atelier. “When you see my ladies cro­chet­ing it helps you un­der­stand the na­ture of cou­ture,” he says. In a new ini­tia­tive, Park Hy­att Siem Reap is of­fer­ing vis­its to Eric’s atelier as part of its Haute Cou­ture tours pack­age and the ho­tel will stage a Eric Raisina fashion show later this year. Shops at 75-81 Charles de Gaulle Av­enue and the ar­cade of FCC Angkor, Pokam­bor Av­enue; er­i­craisina.com; siem­reap.park.hy­att.com.

AMMO:

Con­tem­po­rary jew­ellery Man­aged by Bri­tish-born jew­eller Made­line Green, Ammo sells fine pieces made from re­cy­cled brass am­mu­ni­tion. The sym­bol­ism of mak­ing beau­ti­ful trin­kets from neu­tralised bul­lets res­onates with any­one fa­mil­iar with Cam­bo­dia’s trou­ble past. The stunt crew from An­gelina Jolie’s new film on the Cam­bo­dian con­flict, First They Shot my Fa­ther, com­mis­sioned 10 pen­dants from Green. And to thank the Hollywood star for her work, Ammo made Jolie an in­tri­cate brass hair pin from bul­lets. Ammo is also keen to look to the fu­ture and has re­cently launched a Tem­ple range of jew­ellery, draw­ing in­spi­ra­tion from Angkor Wat. It pro­vides ap­pren­tice­ships to young Cam­bo­di­ans who train at the Ammo work­shop in cen­tral Siem Reap. Clients are en­cour­aged to visit the stu­dio to see the jew­ellers in ac­tion, buy from the col­lec­tions and even have a les­son in mak­ing bul­let jew­ellery. 120 Wat Bo Road; craft­siem­reap.com; am­mo­jew­ellery.com.

SIRIVAN:

Fashion The most in­ter­est­ing new ar­ti­san district in Siem Reap is in the quiet city-cen­tre en­clave of Kan­dal Vil­lage. Barely more than one main street of French colo­nial build­ings, it fea­tures a range of up­scale in­te­rior de­sign shops, art gal­leries, cafes and the odd day spa. Right in the mid­dle of Hap Guan Street is Sirivan Chak Du­mas’s fashion bou­tique and within this jas­mine-scented space she dis­plays a taste­ful col­lec­tion of ac­ces­sories, home decor and her own men’s and women’s cloth­ing. Stripped-down, el­e­gant tai­lor­ing and qual­ity fab­rics are her sig­na­ture style. Up­stairs is Du­mas’s work­shop, where ev­ery­thing from her smart linen shorts to a range of hand-tai­lored bean­ies are cre­ated. 10 Hap Guan Street; sirivan.asia.

ANGKOR ART­WORK:

Nat­u­ral lac­quer­ware The tra­di­tion of ex­tract­ing sap from lac­quer trees was dy­ing out in Cam­bo­dia un­til French crafts­man Eric Stocker and his brother Thierry helped to re­vive it. They needed the dark, smoky sap to build up the many lay­ers of their highly pol­ished lac­quer arte­facts. The duo has im­proved on the tra­di­tional tech­nique and passed on their knowl­edge to teams of lo­cal ap­pren­tices. The skill level at Angkor Art­work is ex­tremely high; in par­tic­u­lar, the eggshell-coated Bud­dhas pro­duced by deaf crafts­men are a won­der to be­hold. The broth­ers are busy pro­duc­ing a range of lac­quer and gild­ing com­mis­sions for de­sign houses and pri­vate col­lec­tions across the world. They wel­come vis­i­tors to their open work­shop and ver­dant gar­den 10 min­utes from the cen­tre of Siem Reap. Orig­i­nal pieces of stun­ning artistry are for sale at the on-site bou­tique, in­clud­ing new tex­tured boxes in parch­ment and stingray skin. 498 Sala Kom­roeuk Road; angko­rart­work.fr.

ONYX: Tai­lored linen fashion Noteko is a Thai-born fashion de­signer who has set up her stylish shop, Onyx, within the nar­row pas­sages of the Old Mar­ket in cen­tral Siem Reap. Her care­fully cho­sen col­lec­tion of home­wares, jew­ellery and linen cloth­ing has caught the at­ten­tion of Phum Bai­tang, a coun­try ho­tel com­posed of in­di­vid­ual vil­las, all laid out to re­sem­ble a tra­di­tional Cam­bo­dian vil­lage com­plete with rice fields. The ho­tel, a favourite of An­gelina Jolie’s, asked Noteko to stock its bou­tique and the re­sult is a re­sort re­tail space that feels like a cross be­tween a cu­rated ex­hi­bi­tion and a fashion salon. Brad Pitt pur­chased one of Noteko’s be­spoke linen shirts dur­ing his visit to the ho­tel and the de­signer’s tai­lored dress­ing gowns are pop­u­lar with fe­male guests. All her linen cloth­ing is made in a work­shop above her mar­ket store where clients come for al­ter­ations and to say hello to her tal­ented tai­lors. Onyx Bou­tique and Work­shop, The Pas­sage, Old Mar­ket; chantreemas.com; phum­bai­tang.com.

AR­TI­SAN LUNETIER: Hand­made eye­wear After his ap­pren­tice­ship in Paris, Jac­ques Dan­ger set up a work­shop mak­ing be­spoke eye­wear for the Parisian elite. Now set­tled in Cam­bo­dia, his Ar­ti­san Lunetier is of­fer­ing a range of spec­ta­cles and sun­glasses made with black buf­falo horn and spe­cial­ist ma­te­ri­als such as di­a­mond, snake­skin and shark­skin. The easy ac­cess to raw ma­te­ri­als is the main draw of his new Asian home. The buf­falo horn is light and the grain makes each pair of glasses unique. To un­der­stand his craft, take a trip to his work­shop on the out­skirts of Siem Reap. He also works closely with op­ti­cian Nony Huor at Eye See in Kan­dal Vil­lage. Dan­ger’s work­shop is just beyond Psar Leu Mar­ket on the main Na­tional High­way 6 (phone for di­rec­tions; +855 096 673 9728); Eye See, 626 Hap Guan Street, Kan­dal Vil­lage; ar­ti­san-lunetier.com.

Busy bars and shops of Siem Reap, top; dress­maker Sirivan Chak Du­mas, above; L’Ar­ti­san Lunetier, above right; Onyx, be­low right; de­signer Eric Raisina in his bou­tique, be­low left

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