metastasizing metropolis of multi-lane highways flanked by hotels, cranes and four-storey billboards advertising Wendy’s Portabella burger. Chanel’s task was to create a spectacle that captured the city’s ultra-modern quality in all its seductive strangeness. As Pavlovsky put it, “We wanted to do something you could only do in Dubai.”
The night of the show, the journey began by abra, a traditional wooden boat, from the shore to an island, which until eight weeks previously had neither electricity nor running water. Now it had a massive metal hangar with a lattice made of interlocking Cs. Candles in the sand lit the path to the structure, past Bedouin-style tents stocked with hookahs, while gentlemen offered guests coffee served in delicate silver cups. Clients in hijabs and red lipstick posed for street-style pix with their Chanel 2.55s.
The collection itself was a knockout: an Eastmeets-West sartorial mix of textural tweed suits, harem pants and gorgeous patterned dresses and coats. “It was exactly what I hoped it would be: a Marisa Berenson mash-up,” said Tilda Swinton on the sand after the show. Torchlight illuminated the skyline, including the coveted real estate on Palm Jumeirah—the man-made islands created in the shape of a palm tree—which is almost twice as large as Central Park.
Later, Karl Lagerfeld and Paradis sat together on a raised structure, bobbing their heads as Monáe sang “ABC” by the Jackson 5 and megamodels Grace Mahary and Lindsey Wixson busted a move on the dance floor. Outside, the first guests lined up to catch an abra back to the mainland, drifting from the lovely fashion bubble into something slicker and grittier: a consumerist Shangri-La rising in the desert, its hour come round at last. ■
Tilda Swinton Vanessa Paradis Janelle Monáe
Pearls and patterns added exotic glamour to accessories.