Friday, November 13, 2009

Mai Oh My

For the Anal Retentive: this story is out of order. It is about a store in Saigon, not Hanoi...but I do not know how to work this program well enough to put it where it belongs.

Now then, there are times in your life when you travel and go some where that touches your mind and spirit so dramatically that it is like a religious experience. The first time I went to Oaxaca (Mexico) I could not write for several days; I felt as if I had seen the face of God and it was simply too difficult or too sacreligious to write about it. I eventually got over it, but the power of the first days has stayed with me.

I had the same feeling when I visited the boutigue cum art gallery called Mai on Dong Khoi Street in Saigon, in the lobby of the Continental Hotel.(This is not to be confused with the InterContinental Hotel, which is several blocks away.) The dramatic window displays and the dancing dragonflies on the store's frontage give you a clue that you must step inside, if only for a look-see. Once inside, you find an Anthropologie meets Takashimaya New York experience of incredible decor and merchandise.

Everything is designed by Mai; there is a clip book of press cuttings you can ask to see if you want to know more about her. I did not need to know more about her as a person. I saw that she had done elaborate embroidery work on army issue fatiques and went wild with the creativity of it all. Prices begin at $300 USD and go up, but the embroidered velvets, the commie posters, the artistic walls, the skinny short shorts-- all are astonishing.

The war is over. Long live Mai.

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