Fashionistas draw on ancient Cambodia for new collection

A model walks in a dress by Jasmine on the first night of the fashion event
A model walks in a dress by Jasmine on the first night of the fashion event Chhim Sreyneang

Fashionistas draw on ancient Cambodia for new collection

Duo among 10 labels showing as part of Phnom Penh Designers Week

Modelling Uber Life
Modelling Uber Life Chhim Sreyneang

The 10th-century builders of Banteay Srei temple, famous for its intricate carvings of Hindu deities, probably never thought their “citadel for women” would be used as inspiration for a runway show.

But then they never met the team behind Artansy, a fashion duo who will show off their new Banteay Srei-inspired collection tonight on the closing evening of Phnom Penh Designers Week (PPDW).

Designer Sotheavy Rumehek said the brand, among 10 labels taking part in the event at The Plantation, has strived to mix modern style with the ancient world.

The result, a collection in which soft silks meet rough leather – an effect its creators say mimics the layering of the temples – is a “combination between modern and traditional Cambodian style”, said designer Rumehek. She joined forces with fellow fashionista Kim Sour Khun to create Artansy.

Clothes by Armanda
Clothes by Armanda Chhim Sreyneang

“I want to create the feeling of the art,” she added.

Despite the heavy rain, Thursday’s opening night drew a crowd of 250 socialites, fashionistas and designers, who watched as models paraded down the runways in a range of outfits – from puffy lime green party dresses to black and white tuxedos.

“Artistic vision” is the theme of the invite-only three-day even. The creators say the show is an opportunity for Cambodian designers, who comprise half of those showing, to get their names more widely known.

Last night, Kosal Ou showed his fitted, smart-casual men’s clothing range from his label Kool As U, an anagram of his name.

“I try to make local designs on an international standard,” said Kosal, who got into the business designing for Friends International before opening his own store on Street 19, where he both tailors and produces his own range.

Inspired by David Beckham, Kosal describes his own style as slim-fitted with unique details – you might catch him touting a double row of buttons, or a slit in the black of a polo shirt sleeve.

But last night, he also premiered his first women’s piece, an elegant Audrey Hepburn-worthy black cocktail dress.

Clothing designs by Arkansy.
Clothing designs by Arkansy. PHOTO SUPPLIED

PPDW creative director Sophea Ke said he hoped the event will help change the perception that Cambodia replicates fashion from overseas rather than pioneering new styles.

“It has been challenging for some of the designers, because they haven’t actually decided yet what sort of designer they want to be – but they have a skill and are willing to learn,” he said.

“They just have to let their imaginations go wild.”

The after-party is open to all and will be held at Code Red tonight at 9pm. The show starts at 7pm at The Plantation.

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