Despite the carping and niggling about some of the failings of last year’s inaugural Cambodia Fashion Week, the ambitious project has certainly put Cambodia on the international fashion map, with a little help this month from irreverent US news site, Vice.
A zombie-themed crossdressing party was the centrepiece of a Vice report on Cambodia Fashion Week.
The first of three Vice Cambodia Fashion Week videos launched early this month went viral, perhaps because of this rather juicy promo: “Charlet arrives in Phnom Penh and heads to the first show of Cambodia’s innagural fashion week, where some models hit the runway ‘acting stoned.’ It’s followed (naturally) by a tranny-zombie after party. Charlet then meets Phen Chou, a factory worker who was beaten by the police when she led protests for garment factory workers’ rights.”
It doesn’t get much more enticing than that, and within days most fashion sites and blogs around the world picked up on the vid.
Fashionista reported, “The results are sometimes funny – like when Charlet Duboc learns the models were told to ‘look stoned’ at one of the shows, or when an after party turns into one of the best/creepiest drag performances we’ve seen – and sometimes brutally hard to watch …Still, the episode paints a hopeful picture of the country’s growing wealth and industry.”
Refinery29 said, “The most we ever get out of Fashion Week is a goodie bag, some inspiration, and serious blisters. With sleepwalking models and tranny-zombie after-parties to recommend it, we’re thinking of hitting up Cambodian Fashion Week next year.”
Jezebel noted that the video was “heavy on the sex, drugs, and rock and roll,” and added, “But there’s also a sobering interview with a garment worker who was beaten by the police when she led a protest in support of workers’ rights.”
Jezebel’s fashion editor is Jenna Sauers, the fashion model who upset the industry’s elite when she revealed that she had worked anonymously for the feminist website. Now she openly works as an editor for Jezebel, and compiles a feisty blog. In her blog coverage of the Vice video she commented, “I cringed twice when I heard Duboc call a group of drag performers ‘trannies’ twice.”
Ford Models Fashion Daily News said, “Cambodian Fashion Week, say what?”
Art + Times noted, “There is more beyond the surface of everything. Vice makes it their duty to go beneath the surface and hi-lite the under layers of everything from secretive countries to fashion week in Cambodia. We’re sure Angelina Jolie would appreciate this.”
The video’s presenter is Charlet Duboc, producer and host of Vice’s Fashion Week Internationale. She told 7Days that most people in the West think of fashion week in terms of Paris, New York, and Milan.
“They barely believe me when I tell them that most countries have fashion weeks, especially in the developing world or in places where the news reports are often negative,” she said.
“Vice felt it was time to show people what was going on with clothes in the rest of the world – after all, everyone has to get dressed in the morning. Along the way we hoped to create a new sort of global trend report.
“Many of the fashion weeks I have covered are the first to ever happen in their country, Cambodia included. Cambodia is a country which westerners generally see as pretty bleak, on wobbly legs in the aftermath of the Khmer Rouge. Either that or as a beautiful gap-year destination. Covering the fashion week was a way of showing a lesser-known side to Cambodian society.”
Duboc said she was especially keen to discover Cambodia’s first ever fashion week. She figured that it may be, “Something bold and creative which I hoped would speak to the contemporary state of Cambodia’s identity. I was also intrigued that the producers of the fashion week were largely Westerners, not Cambodians. And finally, when researching fashion in Cambodia, I mainly uncovered reports of garment workers’ ‘mass fainting’ – compelling me to get out to Phnom Penh and try to capture some of what was really going on.”
Vice was launched in 1994 as a ‘punk zine’ and has since expanded into a leading international youth media company with bureaus in over 30 countries.
Juliette Eisner, “Communications Associate for all things Vice,” told 7Days, “Vice operates the world’s premier original online video destination, Vice.com, an international network of digital channels, a television production studio, a magazine, a record label, an in-house creative services agency and a book-publishing division.
“Vice’s digital channels include The Creators Project, dedicated to the arts and creativity, Motherboard, covering cultural happenings in technology, and Noisey, a music discovery channel.”