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Free Styling Boutique hopping...

By: Expat Advisory Posted: January-01-2006 in
Expat Advisory

Every once in a while we find ourselves in a familiar location but looking at something we never noticed before writes Tanja Wessels. When it comes to clothing shops it is time to make the unfamiliar familiar...

more congested roads, trapped between a million modes of transport and, unable to do anything else, you find yourself staring at the surroundings of wherever the traffic has managed to cage you. In the process you discover buildings and shops you never noticed before... and just as you register this discovery the transport whirlpool is swept into movement again and that shop is relegated back to the blur that is the landscape of Phnom Penh traffic.

After repeating the process described above a number of times, I decided to make a note of all these shops that would otherwise go unnoticed without the help of transport forces.

Monivong is notorious for traffic chaos, so I've had two shops on the stretch in mind for a while now. The first one is the brightly coloured orange boutique La Reine. The shoe selection is worth a browse, with a few black ballet pump designs that are both practical and stylish up to size 40. The prices are on the steep side at an average of $35 so don't expect to walk out feeling you've scored the 'bargain of the decade' when you look down at your feet

On the clothing hangers I was pleased to find the Bam Bam label, which I first discovered at Sorya Shopping Centre and have since bumped into in a few different locations. I'm a fan of their stylish designs and great prints. The one or two dresses I found by the label made up for the other less inspiring options on display. Given the quality and designs on offer I found the prices excessive, but the 'boutique on Monivong' equation is probably the reason.

Further along this high street of Phnom Penh shopping is the City Block Fashion Shop, which boasts $5-$12 signs in its shop window. It delivers on its promise. This place validates my 'you never know what's in there' approach to shops because I would never have guessed they stock what they do... the prices are reasonable and when you find something good, you really find something good...

I'll use the $25 Marc Jacobs dress to illustrate my point. Size 4 means that most of us can only stand and stare, but at that price I was almost tempted to take its creamy fabric with chocolate brown embroidery and hang it on my wall for decoration. But I calmly resisted, so all size 4s out there take note.

The shop layout is divided according to price, so you know exactly what kind of deal you're in for as you move around. Pretty blouses and one or two fabulous evening dresses promise the right garment for the right girl and ensure smiles all round. The clothes come from Hong Kong and Shanghai and because they receive new deliveries once a month, I recommend adding it to your

regular shopping circuit, should you have such a thing.

Leaving Monivong for Sihanouk I found my next port of call - Princess Room. The very pretty floral wallpaper means that you don't have to be stuck in traffic to notice this shop yet, for reasons unknown to me, this was my first visit. The 'Mulberry' and 'Ferragamo' tags dividing the handbag shelves indicate an interest in Vogue from someone in the management, and this is also reflected in some of the clothing.

A lovely dark blue dress with a lime green belt really caught my eye, as did a pleated long black evening dress... when rifling through the shirts I came upon one by Dolce and Gabbana and marvelled at how designer labels just jump out of nowhere around here. At times it feels akin to finding a lost earring at the back of your sofa.

The next time I find myself wedged between a tuk tuk, cyclo, bus and a Camry I will be sure to pull out my notebook again and jot down the names of the shops around me. One really never knows 'what's in there'...

La Reine
No. 177 Preah Monivong
City Block Fashion Shop Eo-201 Preah Monivong
Princess Room No. 91 EO Sihanouk (street 274)


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