Did you know Fashion Week exists across the globe? No, not just in Milan, Paris, London, and New York, but in places like Cambodia, Las Vegas, Columbia and Islamabad in Pakistan. Recently, VICE has been uncovering the underrated forces that spear head the lesser known fashion industries with their mini-documentaries called Fashion Week Internationale. The leader of the movement, Charlet Duboc, isn't your typical fashion reporter either -- instead of traipsing around in heels and a mini skirt, or chasing after the Karl Lagerfelds and Anna Wintours, she's in plastic surgery operating rooms and little huts in third world countries.
Standing at a statuesque 5'11", she's a sight for sore eyes, and often sticks out as a tall willowy presence amongst populations that are often not much taller than 5 foot. She gets into the underbelly of the chaos, not hesitating for a moment to waltz up to the "lady boys" of Cambodia, or the comically decadent designers of Islamabad. Being a former model, she has even strutted along the catwalk (awkwardly) for a few of the shows and posed for editorials.
[Charlet Duboc, Photo via]
But what Charlet discovers are the side stories of how fashion has affected people, and it's anything but typical. Her favorite trip, for instance, was when she covered Columbia's Fashion Week, with its raucous dancers, shapely bodies and bright colors. Being a culture where the "booty" takes all precedent, she even followed a woman into the operating room as she got butt cheek implants, as is customary to do when one wants to achieve the highest level of beauty. In Cambodia, she followed women workers in the garment district and filmed their fainting spells due to their long hours and severe working conditions. The list goes on.
Furthermore, Charlet's cheeky tone and curiosity gives a revealing, yet discerning view of these foreign concepts.
Here, the London native talks about her travels...
Besides a love for fashion, is there any kind of consistency you've noticed in the other countries?
They envy a western kind of fashion week. All fashion weeks are inherently exclusive. The difference is that they wear traditional dress and a lot of people are in poverty. It feels a bit wrong almost, like why are they holding fashion week in these impoverished places? What is this saying about the market? But they think, "Maybe we can hold fashion week too." Basically, it's something to look forward to.
[designer Tariq Amin and Charlet Duboc in Islamabad, Photo via]
Is there any anecdote in particular that you tell to your friends and family from your travels?
There are so many. I'd have to kill you if I told you. But you know Pablo Escobar? I managed to interview his brother in Columbia. His brother was the accountant to one of the biggest drug lords, but now he is a frail little old man. After the interview, I woke up the next morning with papers slid under my hotel door and it was a kind of threat or blackmail from Roberto Escobar saying Roberto needed payment before I left the country and that he was really broke. I picked up the paper and started laughing. Twenty years ago I would have been nervous, but it had no weight anymore. How was this little old man supposed to threaten me?
What's next for Fashion Week Internationale?
The next one coming out is Nigeria. After that, we haven't gotten it completely scheduled yet. Money isn't professionally organized in these areas. They don't have a fashion week council. We'd like Fashion Week Internationale happening in one of the Arab Spring countries. We want to do Urban Fashion Week in Atlanta. I can tell you 200% that the last one will be Jamaica Fashion week. I love Jamaica culture. It's going to be hilarious.
[Behind the scenes at Fashion Week Cambodia, photo via]
How do you find these things?
I don't know. I spend my life in to it, sending e-mails. I have amazing research assistants.
On a personal level, Charlet has always been interested in fashion, and in particular, adores the grunge style of the 90's and lists brands like vintage Guess among her favorites.
Check out a sample of Fashion Week Internationale here: