Set in the lush grounds of the Royal Phuket Marina to the north of Phuket Town, Paul Ropp, a Bali-based clothes designer outlet, is in high-class company. Multi-million-dollar yachts are moored over in the adjacent Marina which itself is set in handsomely proportioned and manicured gardens and walkways.
This high-end boutique sells ‘head-to-toe’ fashion, all imported from Bali and all hand-woven cotton and silk, hand dyed, hand stitched – with some items completely unique.
The boutique itself is lightly air conditioned and – apart from large mirrors, grey carpet and walls lending a Bauhaus-like open-plan feel to it – is extremely colourful with rack after rack of brightly and decidedly cheerful looking tie-dyed, printed and painted shirts, skirts, scarves, pants, shoes, hats and much more. A 30” flat-screen wall TV runs endless silent loops of Paul Ropp runway models while a discreet percussion soundtrack taps away in the background.
This may be the last word in understatement you may think, but look again – this time at the price tags. Originality has never come cheap and never less so than at a Paul Ropp outlet. A feather-light hand-stitched evening clutch bag clocks in at a cool 8,000 baht; an orange and red ladies’ blouse 9,000 baht, while a pair of dyed high-heel booties are over 16,000 baht, s’il vous plait. Wearing Paul Ropp guarantees originality, it’s true, but you’d better be prepared to pay the price to look that good.
Interestingly enough, even though Paul Ropp loosely bases his designs on an easy-going tropical beach feel, most of the gear here is multifunctional, ranging from relaxed dinner wear to out-and-out slay ‘em dead eveningwear that wouldn’t look untoward on a balmy summer evening in LA. The proportion of ladies’ to men fashion here is about 60/40. The menswear is not as flamboyant as its female counterpart yet it does have a distinctive cut to its jib that any self-respecting fashionista will appreciate.
There are several other Paul Ropp outlets on the island and you’re guaranteed originality, quality and inventiveness at each of them. ‘To cut a swathe’ may be an old-fashioned way of describing a dress-to-impress strategy but it happens to be perfect to encapsulate the mix-and-match prêt-a-porter potential at any Paul Ropp outlet.