WHOLE NEW WORLD Karl Lagerfeld rolls out his magic carpet for an extraordinary ride through a new fashion adventure in Dubai. Natasha Kraal hops on to discover Chanel Cruise 2015.
o know Dubai, you’ve got to experience its contrasts. One moment you’re taking an abra, a traditional wooden taxi-boat, on a one-dirham ride across the Dubai Creek, black smoke spewing all the way towards the spice and gold souks of the old city, where you can savour a cup of goat’s milk tea in between rough-haggling for a brace of 22k bangles, the 42-degree blazing sun burning through your cotton voile blouse. Next, you’re in a souped-up Mercedes SUV speeding down a six-lane highway to Dubai Mall, the world’s largest with 1,200 shops, drinking 20-dirham mint tea between local women in blacked-out abayas and tourists in cut-off shorts while watching a USD220 million fountain dramatically dance 500 feet up to Lionel Richie’s “All Night Long”, backdropped by the magnificent Burj Khalifa. From being a humble pearl-fishing town in the 18th Century, to becoming the major oil port of the UAE in the ’70s, Dubai in just the last 10 years is defined by the tallest, biggest, most expensive … its extravagances and extremes know no end.
The crystalline skyscrapers of Dubai, framed by the Arabian desert and heatshimmering blue sky are phenomenal. “Dubai is the world of tomorrow,” says Karl Lagerfeld, who saw the opportunity to create yet another fashion fantasy on his favourite positing of tradition/futurism, everyday/excessive, Orient/Occident. The Chanel Cruise collections have always been spaced in jet-set destinations that frame the aesthetic – in previous years, they’ve taken on the waterfront panoramas of St. Tropez, Los Angeles, Venice, and most recently, Singapore – and Dubai with its out-of-this-world holiday culture (big boats, desert polo, skiing, everything under the sun!) was to be checked off.
Dubai is believed to have been named after a woman, Dabya; though many also think it’s the moniker for money. And the moneyed women of Dubai are indeed as fascinating as the city: exotic beauties with kohl-lined eyes in their dark cloaks sighted stepping out of blackedout Range Rovers to shop for the sexiest designer dresses in the brightest prints and extravagant detailing, which they would wear in the privacy of their women-only parties. Is this lover of super luxury Lagerfeld’s muse or his patron for this collection? Or both? These contrasts of the Emirate state with its old soul and modern spirit, and mesmerising complexities of a 21st-Century megalopolis set in an ancient storybook landscape clearly came alive on this fantastical Arabian night.
And what’s a Chanel show without its spectacular staging? Held on The Island, a swatch of artificial land in the bay of Dubai, a massive sand-covered pavilion decorated with mashrabiya – traditional Middle Eastern latticework, in situ as interlocking Cs – was created to host 1,001 guests. Inside, date palms, wrought-iron lanterns, and sunken sofa seating made the set for models to weave through for an up-close-and-personal view of Lagerfeld’s new master collection. Come sunset, guests in their best interpretations of desert chic, including Freida Pinto, Vanessa Paradis, and Tilda Swinton, along with big-name editors, and the incredibly stylish princesses and heiresses of the Arab world, met at the pier to take those charming abras from the shores of Jumeirah beach, 650 metres from the pavilion. Far from the Chanel-esque canapés and champagne befitting a classic Rue Cambon presentation, here, Bedouin tents dressed with needlepoint cushions and rugs, serving shishas and mint tea, unveiled this utterly exoti-chic experience.
Chanel Cruise ’15
Best dressed in eclectic fashion
mashrabiya- decorated pavilion