"Ethnik" "Behind the scenes"

In March of 2014 while researching and making plans for a January 2015 trip to Laos, I came upon "Ethnik" "The Living Museum Fashion Show" at the Hive Bar and Restaurant in Luang Prabang. It seemed that they allowed people to photograph freely during the performance, but I was interested in something private behind the scenes. I contacted one of the Canadian owners Cristofre Martin (Cris) to obtain more information and to my surprise he responded quickly,and favourably to my requests. While in Luang Prabang I emailed Cris and he told me that he was currently away but that his partner Troy Matusow had been informed of our agreement. Troy went out of his way to extend his hospitality and make the arrangements to allow my photographic requests. Above the bar on the second floor is an area for the girls to change into the various costumes required for the fast paced "Ethnik" Fashion Show. 

Applying Makeup©Kieron Nelson 2015 "Vanishing Cultures Photography" All rights reserved Mirrors©Kieron Nelson 2015 "Vanishing Cultures Photography" All rights reserved
                                                            Applying makeup using hand-held mirrors

                                                             

©Kieron Nelson 2015 "Vanishing Cultures Photography" All rights reserved ©Kieron Nelson 2015 "Vanishing Cultures Photography" All rights reserved
©Kieron Nelson 2015 "Vanishing Cultures Photography" All rights reserved Helping hand©Kieron Nelson 2015 "Vanishing Cultures Photography" All rights reserved

There is a large floor mirror where a majority of the the photographs were taken due to the small space and lighting. There are smaller wall mirrors that the girls use to check their costumes as well as apply makeup. It can become very crowded and chaotic during the costume changes. The one hundred plus costumes representing more than twenty Laotian ethnic groups are arranged in group numbers and hang on racks around the room.

In the mirror©Kieron Nelson 2015 "Vanishing Cultures Photography" All rights reserved ©Kieron Nelson 2015 "Vanishing Cultures Photography" All rights reserved
                                                                        "Yao" wedding dress
©Kieron Nelson 2015 "Vanishing Cultures Photography" All rights reserved
                                                       The same young lady after a costume change

©Kieron Nelson 2015 "Vanishing Cultures Photography" All rights reserved

 
 
©Kieron Nelson 2015 "Vanishing Cultures Photography" All rights reserved
Lao Greeting©Kieron Nelson 2015 "Vanishing Cultures Photography" All rights reserved Showing the Laos greeting©Kieron Nelson 2015 "Vanishing Cultures Photography" All rights reserved
The typical Lao greeting is the "nop" which is similar to the "wai" in Thailand or the "satu" in Cambodia. In a "nop" the hands are clasped together upright in a prayerful position, with fingertips below the nose and a slight downward gaze. The "nop" is often accompanied with the greeting "Sabaidee" or “good health (to you)” and is considered the polite address for members of higher social status.
Forgotten art©Kieron Nelson 2015 "Vanishing Cultures Photography" All rights reserved Hmong Head Attire©Kieron Nelson 2015 "Vanishing Cultures Photography" All rights reserved  
At least three meters of fabric is used to manufacture the Hmong turban. The art of wrapping the fabric into a turban is almost forgotten. Most of the Hmong hats are pre-made and readily available for purchase in the local markets. They are used for festivals and weddings. The Hive girls demonstrate here, and on stage the traditional art of applying the head-ware from start to finish.  
Up and over©Kieron Nelson 2015 "Vanishing Cultures Photography" All rights reserved Tight fit©Kieron Nelson 2015 "Vanishing Cultures Photography" All rights reserved
Hair is usually pulled up and tucked into the headdress, pulled into a ponytail or a bun. Traditionally, women wear their hair only partly tucked in at the back of the headdress. Only in the late 1990s did Hmong women sew the fabric into a hat, and at this time they began to use many different fabrics, colours, and decorations.
 
Siv Ceeb©Kieron Nelson 2015 "Vanishing Cultures Photography" All rights reserved Different fabrics©Kieron Nelson 2015 "Vanishing Cultures Photography" All rights reserved

                The thin black and white striped cloth (siv seeb) is wrapped around the outer edge of the turban.

Geometric Patterns©Kieron Nelson 2015 "Vanishing Cultures Photography" All rights reserved ©Kieron Nelson 2015 "Vanishing Cultures Photography" All rights reserved

                                                                        The following day outside 

©Kieron Nelson 2015 "Vanishing Cultures Photography" All rights reserved ©Kieron Nelson 2015 "Vanishing Cultures Photography" All rights reserved
©Kieron Nelson 2015 "Vanishing Cultures Photography" All rights reserved Nop©Kieron Nelson 2015 "Vanishing Cultures Photography" All rights reserved
©Kieron Nelson 2015 "Vanishing Cultures Photography" All rights reserved     Troy and students©Kieron Nelson 2015 "Vanishing Cultures Photography" All rights reserved                                            
                                                                                                                                                  Troy with the students

Update: January 20 - 2016

"The Living Museum Fashion Show" gave its final performance at the Hive Bar.


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