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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Man About Town: 30 Aug 2013

Man About Town: 30 Aug 2013

Expats who have lived in the Kingdom for some time are sure to be exposed to that exotic phenomenon, the Khmer wedding. The expats are amazed to discover that the Khmer women they see daily in ordinary garb are transformed into almost unrecognisable beings, decked out in tizzy sequined ball gown affairs mostly in pastel hues, with elaborate hairdo stacks, layers of make-up and lashings of false eyelashes. Some of our more hip expats decry this as a daggy and old-fashioned homage to a forgotten western world of the 1950s, and indeed some expats even go as far as dubbing the get-up as the “lady-boy look.”

But not Kampot-based artist Vincent Broustet. He views the transformation as an art form, and an exhibition of his paintings depicting “the passionate world of young Khmer women,” and titled Queen for a Night, opens tomorrow night at McDermott Gallery Old Market.

It’s a must-see and according to the press release, the canvasses, “capture both dreams and disappointments, the results of their transformation from everyday selves into unabashed beauties for Cambodian weddings and other significant occasions.

“The ritual of preparing for special events takes hours of enthusiastic groundwork, usually beginning with a visit to a favorite hair salon to have tresses elaborately styled and curled. A make-up artist applies layers of foundation, blush, ornate eyelashes and brightly colored lipstick to complete the facial transformation.

“In true Khmer style, young women usually have a choice of extravagant dresses that they rent or have tailor-made – floor-length sequined gowns in bright greens, purples, pinks and blues. Workday jobs and everyday concerns are left behind. Excitement grows throughout the evening as they hope to feel like a queen for a night.”

Broustet, originally from Bordeaux, quit school when 16 and a year later quit France to travel the world for years, enlisting in the “school of freedom.” Later, he returned to Paris where he studied for three years at the Beaux Arts School.

Of his art he says, “ My sketches and paintings do not engage in exoticism but instead are transcriptions of moods and atmospheres, the pursuit of what is and remains common to every human, every landscape, every shadow. Although my pictorial language is clearly linked to a European tradition, my belief that poetry has no border, that there is an echo to every soul everywhere, guides my work in a minimalist, meditative way, in an attempt to capture impressions rather than descriptions.”

The exhibition’s opening reception tomorrow night is from 6-8pm, and the exhibition will run for two months, until October 31.

Spas are the ‘in-thing’ at the moment, and new spas on the block include the Kainnora Spa at the Grand Soluxe Angkor Palace Resort and Spa, where the signature therapy is the Royal Angkor Massage. According to the hotel, “This 75 or 105 minute therapy combines secret traditional herbs that warm and soothe aching muscles while at the same time providing calming sensations to achieve a balance in mind and senses.”

The hotel is also singing the praises of the spa centre’s interior design which has special emphasis on “colours, lighting, sound, unique wall features and wall carvings,” all “reflective of the ambience” of the temple grounds.

Meanwhile, the Park Hyatt says its spa is “a zen-inspired retreat with the highest-quality service and holistic spa treatments using exclusive aromatherapy products.”

The hotel’s entire fitness area has been dubbed as The Spa. It covers 242 square-metres, has a 24-hour ‘smart’ fitness centre, equipped with Technogym cardiovascular and strength machines, which connect to the internet and biomechanically correct posture and alignment. The fitness area also features two swimming pools, six treatment rooms, a steam room and a rooftop relaxation area for yoga or foot massages.



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