Romyda Keth was born in Phnom Penh in 1966. When she was five she left Cambodia with her parents who were in the diplomatic corps. Following several years in Prague the family moved on to Paris in 1973.
After studying at the Paris School of Fine Arts for a number of years, Romyda enrolled in the Esmod School of Fashion Design, also in Paris. But before she had even completed her apprenticeship program there, the American chain store Macy’s offered her a position as a designer, enabling her to work on her own sketches.
After some years in the heart of the Paris night life following the interests of her youth, Romyda joined forces with a hat designer friend and began showcasing her collections in a small boutique in Paris’s sixth arrondissement. Fashion shows, press coverage in the most prestigious women’s magazines and enjoying the acclaim of her first customers were her regular fare.
In 1994, with a husband and two children, she returned to her roots—Cambodia. The country she came home to was in tatters, with little in the way of infrastructure to really develop her work. Undeterred, her husband, biologist Denis Laurent, met Dr. Beat Richner, founder of the Kantha Bopha hospitals, and decided to go for the most exciting challenge of his professional career. The Laurent family moved in and further expanded (now there were two boys and two girls).
The early years after 1994 were shaky, but Romyda’s clients in Paris still clamored for her creations. A makeshift workshop with only three couturiers discovered after a long search, was set up in a little corner of her home where she could put down on paper the myriad sketches and designs that she dreamed up. Exploring the wealth of local handicrafts, embroidery techniques, the diversity of colors and high quality of Khmer silk and organza became a second love for Romyda after enjoying long hours in the design and creation stage of her women’s wear lines.
In 1999, Romyda opened her first boutique: Ambre. Located in the heart of Phnom Penh in an old colonial mansion, the place is an ideal venue for the challenge of offering her Cambodian and expatriate clientele a place to go shopping.
To introduce her collections and give life to her garment creations, she reworked the interior design, coming up with an intimate and attractive world of tailor-made color-themed pieces. That year, two more boutiques opened, one in Raffles Hotel le Royal and the other at the Grand Hotel d’Angkor.
The maturity and diversity of her work have opened new horizons. In 2000, her encounter with another designer enabled her to work with an agent in Paris through the launch of her wedding dress line: an up-scale market featuring one outfit of pure silk.
Her patterns are characterized by an undeniably feminine style, coloring that is a harmonious blend of shades, elegance without sacrifice of detail, garments that fit the curves and highlight the figure, and materials that are both versatile and of high quality.
Driven by the need to create beyond the dictates of fashion, Romyda continues to cater to her client base—active women who know they’re beautiful and want to exude elegance in every situation.