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How 'Song' is leading style a merry dance


An eco-friendly emerging Vietnamese fashion label is making waves on the local and international style scenes, with a bump by Vogue and Cameron Diaz

A view of Song Design’s Phnom Penh boutique (above); and Cameron Diaz wears Song for Vogue (left). Store Photo By Holly Pham

With cameron diaz's endorsement in vogue, market penetration is inevitable.

In June, Vogue magazine's Green Issue introduced the world's fashion circuit to a new name - Song, an eco-conscious high-end clothing line owned by French-born designer Valerie Gregori McKenzie.

Song, literally means "to live" or "life" in Vietnamese, was inspired by the founder's desire to create fashion beyond collections - one that could link to a way of life.

"A brand that embodies and celebrates life," says Valerie via email.

"For me life is about innovation [in alignment with] ecological sustainability - the reach toward others' and our social impact," she added.

Aesthetic choice
This principle is reflected throughout Song's choices of materials and aesthetics, as seen in products made from modern and traditional fabrics such as bamboo fiber, silk, and hemp.

The French-born McKenzie graduated from ESMOD Paris and held design and creative positions with fashion companies in Europe and the US, including Taverniti and Vuarnet.

She founded the luxury resort-wear fashion label in 1996, and since then the label has been consistent with the "fashion and ecology must walk hand in hand" philosophy. Song chooses organic over chemically treated materials and 100 percent handmade over machine-based embroidery in all operation and production decisions, "[to add] a little soul supplement and preciousness over generic garments," said Valerie.

Song adopts traditional Vietnamese silk techniques and is 100 percent handmade, making it even more exclusive and luxurious.

Indochina ambience
Based in Hanoi, Song embraces the "Indochina" imagery ambiance, reflected on the store decorations in contrast with the modern collections.

Since its launch in Cambodia last December, Song has been primarily offering a wide range of evening dresses and ball gowns, thus appeals more to the sophisticated and high-end audience rather than the ordinary lifestyle that the label is better known for.

Song has a store in Singapore and two outlets in Cambodia, one in Phnom Penh and one in Siem Riep. The label has gained a growing number of local followers, according to Song's store manager in Phnom Penh.

Perhaps it's fortunate that Song is enjoying growing international market appeal, as Cambodia is too small a fashion market.

Local connections
As McKenzie told the Post's Peter Olszewski earlier this year, she encourages incorporating Cambodian elements into her range, but will not do so "unless I find beautiful Khmer fabric that could also be produced on a large scale.

"The difficulty is to work with artisans while also being able to stay reactive and up to the international market demand. We already do this in Vietnam and while I have no connections yet to do it Cambodia, I welcome them."

Nonetheless, with Cameron Diaz's endorsement on Vogue this month and the growing middle class in Cambodia, market penetration is only a matter of time.

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