Former Parisian fashionista Sirivan Chak-Dumas was described by fashion magazine Nova as the “Bjork of shoemaking,” possibly because her unconventional high-fashion personal style has parallels with the equally unconventional Icelandic songstress.
Or it could be because she once crafted shoes from Icelandic salmon skin.
Either way, the news of the moment is that Chak-Dumas has set up home in Siem Reap with her French husband, Loic Dumas, and will be launching her new collection of clothes, accessories and interior decorations at Residence d’Angkor and the Angkor National Museum this month.
Her new collection, under her label, Baray Occidental, will be, according to her, “a mix of Khmer and Western style, but it’s less art craft and more fashion, using fabrics like silk, linen and cotton. For example I use apsara bracelets and belts as bag handles.”
She plans to open a shoe store in Siem Reap, but for now her priority is “rediscovering” her homeland and working on her collections.
Chak-Dumas migrated to Paris in 1982, and studied design at fashion school Atelier Chardon Savard. After graduating in 1996, she designed shoes and accessories for a small company, Facteur Celeste, but it was Parisian shoemaker extraordinaire Maurice Arnoult who developed her love for footwear during a two year apprenticeship.
Around the same time she opened a small shoe store cum workshop in Montmartre which gained international media attention.
She first came to Siem Reap for a holiday in 2002, met the art director of Artisans d’Angkor, and designed bags and clothing for the company for a year from Paris.
The Chak-Dumas family, including two youngsters, moved to Siem Reap on a permanent basis two months ago.