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Capturing the essence of the provinces

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On left, Thoeun Socheat’s concept design for Kep province, ‘Seila waits for her husband’. On right, his design for Preah Sihanouk, ‘Sea Dragon Mother’. courtesy of Thoeun Socheat

Capturing the essence of the provinces

Cambodia has 24 provinces, with Phnom Penh being the capital city. And each has its distinctive flavour. That said, a young architecture student decided to embark on an ambitious idea to capture the uniqueness of each province through, believe it or not, its fashion.

After painstaking research, Thoeun Socheat, a student at the Royal University of Fine Arts, decided to create 25 outfits for women, with each representing a province.

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Thoeun Socheat’s concept design for Battambang province, ‘Farmer woman’. courtesy of Thoeun Socheat

Socheat, who hails from Kandal province’s Leuk Dek district, says his major requires him to take fashion classes in his third year.

He says his project was inspired by international beauty pageants, where participants wear clothes that reflect the character of their country.

“Part of the curriculum for my third year included fashion design. I had seen designs from seniors who had been assigned a project to create outfits that could be worn by women who compete in the Miss World pageant. This encouraged me to come up with unique fashion designs for each province,” he says.

The project has certainly kept him busy throughout the year.

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Thoeun Socheat’s concept design for Kampot province, ‘Durian Queen’. courtesy of Thoeun Socheat

“I embarked on the idea early this year by researching for reference material such as books. I visited various temples to find what made each province special, whether it was attractive tourist sites, forest animals or birds, and so on. After spending three months doing this, I began the design process and sketches,” Socheat says.

But his creativity didn’t stop there. He gave each design its own name. For example, for Kampong Thom province, he called the design “Elephant steps on the Tiger”; “Sea Dragon Mother” for Preah Sihanouk; “Freshwater dolphin daughter” for Kratie; and “Durian queen” for Kampot. He hopes his designs will gain interest from fashion companies.

“I want these designs to be realised one day. And if any company or institution is keen, I will be happy to work hard to make the designs a reality,” Socheat says.

In any case, he’s still not done yet. Socheat says for his next project, he will be designing 25 outfits for men inspired by the same provinces and capital.

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