The textiles from Laos are some of the most beautiful in Southeast Asia. Today, the traditional costumes of the people are under threat by globalization. Not so long ago, if you travelled through the small villages and cities of Laos you would see all ages of women wearing the traditional costume of their village to school or work. The styles of the clothing displayed the abundance of natural resources of Laos but also the skills in spinning, dying, and weaving the cottons and the silks. Travellers rarely see the opulence in village costumes that they once did. Today the cost of local handmade textiles is high and many families cannot afford them except on special occasions such as weddings. So if you are interested in seeing the vast array of costumes that graced the village street and city road and have missed the few textile museums in Laos then head to Luang Prabang where in a single evening you can see more than a hundred costumes representing more than twenty Laotian ethnic groups. It is ETHNIK – The Living Museum Fashion Show at the Hive Bar and Restaurant in UNESCO’s protected ‘Old Town’. Hive has spent several years collecting all these costumes. They hire local university students studying in Luang Prabang to model the clothing paying them a full day’s wage for their service thereby helping to support their education.
Update: January 20-2016. The Living Museum Fashion Show gave its last performance at the Hive Bar.
©Kieron Nelson "Vanishing Cultures Photography" All rights reserved