It’s not just the high design of the Aqua Mekong that is catching guests’ attention when they board this luxury cruise ship. The uniforms worn by the Aqua Mekong team are just as eye-catching as the newly launched vessel. Conceived and created by Siem Reap’s first true couturier, Eric Raisina, the design of the Aqua Mekong uniforms reflect Southeast Asian sartorial traditions. Using elegant gray-to-black palettes, the mostly silk uniforms incorporate iconic Khmer “karma” in the most modern ways.
Born in Madagascar, Raisina formally began his fashion career by winning a scholarship to study fashion design in Paris, where he gravitated towards textiles. Even in this global style capital, Raisina’s couture fabrics garnered attention from major fashion heavy weights like Yves Saint Laurent’s muse Loulou de la Falaise and the iconoclastic designer Christian Lacroix. A trip to Southeast Asian early in the new millennium persuaded Raisina to swap France for Cambodia, where he spent the next few years overseeing the silk farm for Artisans d’Angkor, a state run NGO (non-government organization). He then built four looms outside his traditional stilted Khmer house near the ancient stone temples at Angkor Wat.
After training a dozen Khmer women to weave silk as well as raffia imported from Madagascar, Raisina began designing couture ball gowns inspired by the surrounding temples, as well as skirts and wraps of psychedelic hued ‘silk fur’ which he has since patented. Raisina opened his first boutique in Siem Reap in December 2004, attracting high profile temple trekkers for whom he has been known to send his bespoke tuk-tuk. In 2013, his multi-level couture house opened on the road to Angkor Wat, housing his design studio, Khmer weavers, private ateliers and an airy street front boutique filled with his tropical spectrum of dresses, menswear and accessories.
When Aqua Expeditions CEO Francesco Galli Zugaro was looking for a designer for the staff uniforms on the Aqua Mekong, Raisina’s sense of high fashion, use of traditional Khmer-infused fabrications and strong sense of place seemed like a natural fit.
For more information about Eric Raisina, please visit www.ericraisina.com.