In the past years CHANEL marks a great resort tradition with its previous presentations in Dallas, Singapore, Edimbourg, Chateau de Versailles, Bombay at Grand Palais and Byzance.
This time Karl Lagerfeld was silhouetted against a night sky, the moon hanging somewhere to his left, the hazy cityscape of Dubai ranged behind him: extreme stagecraft of the kind CHANEL lavishes on its cruise show these days. CHANEL set the precedent that resort at The Island, Jumeirah Beach Road, is a time for setting off on jaunts to entertain the customers of the world in their own habitats, and, goodness, it’s got the competition running between brands for extravagant gestures of entertainment and hospitality.
Discover the video of 'The Details of CHANEL Cruise 2014/15' at the end of this post!
For all readers who have been following me on Instagram and Twitter the last view days enjoyed some wonderful first impressions of this Dubai backdrop and the CHANEL Cruise collection. CHANEL’s first mega-presentation in the Middle East involved the building of a vast auditorium decorated with double-C Islamic-style fretwork on a manmade island, and a guest list of local princesses, potentates, and flown-in celebrities and press from the rest of the world. “This is something we could not dream of fifteen, 20 years ago,” Lagerfeld declared. “Look at this island, it’s like Atlantis, which rose out of the sea!”
There’s a boom going on in Dubai massive building development, tourism, mega-wealth creation and, of course, high fashion follows the money. Not that fashion’s relationship with the Middle East is at all flimsy or recent, though. Actually, it’s been going on since at least the nineteenth century, and it’s a truth that Paris haute couture probably wouldn’t have survived into the twenty-first century without its avid clients from this region. That meant Lagerfeld had a rich tapestry of fashion-historical references to draw on, from Paul Poiret’s Orientalism to Marisa Berenson–slash–Veruschka hippie-deluxe imagery. Somewhere between the tunics and harem pants, the set, backcombed hair, diamond-set half-moon diadems and pointed slippers, all that registered. Yet today, there’s no getting away with literal references. There’s a fine line to be trod between clichés that might possibly offend, and that which is contemporary, respectful and tempting. “It’s much better to imagine an idea, a possibility,” said Lagerfeld. “It’s a collection made for this part of the world, but I think, and hope, it’s for women all over the world.”
With the aid of the subtle arts of Lesage embroidery and Chanel’s vast expertise in print and embellishment, Lagerfeld managed to skate over references to red-and-white checked dishdasha patterns, Islamic tile prints and floral lamés, without laboring any points and when they crossbred with Chanel florals, it just seemed natural. A humorous note occurred when he drew a fleeting comparison between a hoodie and a djellaba in a couple of parka-cum-bomber jackets exactly the kind of idea young girls might zoom in on, East, West and in between. Quite where the pearl-studded cat-eye and visor sunglasses originated needs no explanation or justification they’re just at the top of the random temptation class.
After all the iterations of tunics and leggings, past the chunky tweeds and busy florals, toward the end, Lagerfeld hit a sweet spot of elegance and seeming simplicity. The caramel crepe tunic worn by Joan Smalls had a patch of sequin embroidery in the cutaway neckline, narrow pants, and some sort of scarf which she slipped across her shoulders and then allowed to flow free as she walked.
That finale, with its stunning array of diamond feather brooches rounded off a collection strong on jewelry, be it heavy Berber-inspired pearl necklaces or those sickle-moon diadems in the hair. “There was a fashion for wearing moon-shaped jewels in the 1850s and 60s,” noted the ever-erudite Lagerfeld, adding, with a knowing twinkle, “and of course, the half-moon is like a C—one half of the Chanel double C!”
Interviews over, the party commenced. A thousand and more guests including Tilda Swinton and Sandro Kopp, Princess Deena Aljuhani Abdulaziz, Vanessa Paradis, Dakota Fanning, Noor Fares, and Laura Bailey and Chanel's models danced into the night to Janelle Monáe and her band. Grace Mahary, fully in the spirit, had changed into her own “Dubai” look a jersey turban, an Eritrean shawl and a skirt with a coin-encrusted hip-wrap tied around it. “It's a belly-dancer's belt,” she laughed, giving it a shimmy. “I bought it in the market today.”
Selections by ANDREA JANKE Finest Accessories
Runway: The House of CHANEL
Stills: Kevin Tachman
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The Manhattan skyline was the backdrop for the presentation of Raf Simons’ Cruise 2015 collection for the House of Dior ...“America is a constant inspiration for me, ” says Raf Simons. “The pop culture, the energy, the fluidity... there is just something so alive here. What I always like in America is that there is such a melting pot of styles. But there is always a look – a strong look. Whether it is uptown or downtown, East or West coast, there is always a strength and reality to how women dress here."