“An extravaganza”… “A fabulous event” … “Like nothing Siem Reap has ever seen before”… All phrases used to describe Emotions, a fashion showcase by Eric Raisina that will mix images, projection, art, dance, furniture and fashion.
7Days sat down with the A-Team behind the extravaganza, Hotel De La Paix’s Christian de Boer, curator and artist Sasha Constable, and the designer Eric Raisina, to discuss the show.
“It’s a celebration of many things, of beauty, creativity and lifestyle in Siem Reap,” said Raisina. “We’re trying to combine the arts scene, the fashion scene, the lifestyle scene and the creativity to bring all of this. We want to promote what we can do in this country, raise the bar.”
It will take place in The Arts Lounge at Hotel De La Paix tonight at 7pm, and promises not to be your average runway show.
Christian says the fashion scene in Siem Reap is finally ready for such an ambitious show. “It’s a creative city. There’s a very flourishing art scene and I don’t think fashion is new to Siem Reap. Eric has been here 10 years, with Siem Reap as a base, and he’s been very successful. And all that’s inspired from here. What is new is that it’s finally being shown in Siem Reap. It’s time for that. Siem Reap has grown up.”
Along with dancers – one contemporary, and one Apsara performer from the Nginn Karet Foundation for Cambodia – there will be 12 international and Khmer models showcasing Eric’s internationally-inspired designs.
“I didn’t want a runway show for 30 minutes with everybody changing. I wanted people to really see, to almost touch, the fabric, see how it moves,” he explained. “I wanted to let audiences know my work is really coming from the textile. It’s very important for everyone coming on the night to understand what is behind the scenes. Everything is really about the details.”
Many Reapers are well versed in De La Paix’s artistic temperaments and Eric says it was a longstanding dream of his to work with the hotel. For Christian, the partnership is a great fit, particularly in a year which will see big shake ups at the hotel.
“The show is part of an exciting year for us at Hotel De La Paix, a year in which a lot of things are happening …We’ve had Dengue Fever concerts here, we’ve flooded it, we’ve hung ice; we’ve done a hell of a lot of strange things. We’ve done a lot of things a traditional hotel won’t do, and that’s where I think we’re special and why we’re different.”
For Sasha, who is behind the hotel’s art program, the show has been a unique one to organise, “Every time we have a meeting it grows. It is very dissimilar to other openings in so many ways because there are so many elements to it, it’s a live event.”
She also said it will be a rare chance for many Siem Reap residents to see what the town’s foremost designer has been getting up to. “Eric has been here a long time, so all the expats know his work. But it doesn’t happen often that he has a big show. It’s really exciting for everybody to see what he’s been doing.”
As for the all-important clothes, Madagascar-born Eric says the items are a melting pot of his influences.
“I really want to present my universe, my sensibility and my skills. I wanted to show the different histories that I have. From Madagascar, where I have this African inspiration, in Paris, I was trained in the French way, and now I’ve been in Cambodia 10 years; these are my influences.”
Also working on the show is Khmer stylist, Nataly Lee who spends her time between here and Australia, and photographers Onin Lorente and Rafael Winer whose works will be on display both at and after the night.
“Onin is from Singapore, he did a shoot of Eric’s work in the street. They’re very interesting, the juxtaposing of high fashion in sometimes very ordinary locations,” Sasha said. “Rafael Winer has shot all of Eric’s textiles over the years, so his work his about the actual make up of the textiles, the details and the colours.”
Finally the night serve to highlight the work of de la Paix’s vastly successful Sewing School. There will be a complementary exhibition in the Thev Gallery showcasing the work of the school which has taught over 150 girls sewing and will release a fresh batch of graduates later this month. “For us, it’s the ideal opportunity to show what we have tried to do through our sewing school,” Christian said.
“The girls who have graduated after that 10-month course are obviously not yet at Eric’s level, but it’s amazing to see what both have achieved in their prospective fields.”
For Eric, he’s eager that his exhibition will show both the girls at the sewing school and the audience on the night that anything is possible. “In this country we have a lot of garment production, but these factories are not the perfect example to show what the country can do. I have a feeling this show will present the level for both my products and the luxury handicrafts Cambodia can produce into the future. It is possible. It’s not necessary to be in Paris to do fashion.”