These intricate Laotian wraps evoke the beauty of Asia.

After decades of near-isolation, tiny Laos is emerging like a silk worm from its rigid communist cocoon, thanks in part to the country's complex craft traditions, such as sophisticated weaving and dying techniques. To visit one of the finest fabric workshops, head to Vientiane, the former French colonial capital, where American designer Carol Cassidy directs Lao Textiles, a silk studio of 50 enterprising locals, mostly women, who create shimmering wraps, ikat scarves, and brocade wall hangings. Cassidy's talent—pairing centuries-old indigenous patterns with modern colors—is a fresh interpretation of textile art.