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“Coming to Dubai is a powerful achievement,” Chanel’s President of Fashion on Tomorrow’s Cruise Show

Vogue Arabia cover star Nora Attal, flanked by models Ola Rudnicka and Lola Nico, appears dressed in Chanel Cruise 2021/2022 in a desert landscape fused with the Dubai skyline. It’s a teaser shot (video featured above) issued by the maison Chanel ahead of one of the biggest fashion extravaganzas to close out the year. Tomorrow evening, Chanel will host a reshow of its Cruise collection in Dubai. While the collection may have already debuted digitally in May, in the South of France, the Dubai show still comes packed with plenty of firsts. It will be the first time that Chanel does a show outside France since the start of the pandemic, and it’s the first time the Cruise collection will be seen by actual clients and press. Speaking exclusively to Vogue Arabia in Paris ahead of arriving in the emirate, Chanel president of fashion Bruno Pavlovsky states, “We are very lucky to come to Dubai.”

Bruno Pavlovsky, Chanel president of fashion. Courtesy of Chanel

For years, Chanel has been engaged in the Arab peninsula, having partnered with the Chalhoub Group and developing step by step. The Chaloub partnership continues to this day while Chanel has meanwhile set up its own organizations in the region. “It’s a big market, one doing quite well, and with a strong, real clientele,” continues Pavlovsky. “Five years ago, we were talking to a lot of tourists; now, its people from the area.” Pavlovsky is keen to sell more than accessories to the Arab world, a sector already booming. He wants to sell clothes. “It is important that the DNA of the brand is visible. Chanel is about fashion, it’s about ready-to-wear and we are ready to accelerate this development,” he states, adding, “I think that this show will be the way to reach the next step for Chanel in the region.” Dubai was on the shortlist of cities from day one, when Chanel was already planning its exit from a “very tough situation,” the global pandemic. “We feel that we need to reconnect physically with a live show with our customers. This opportunity with Dubai—a city which is open, and with a market that is booming—is part of our priority.”

Chanel Cruise 2021/2022 show by Virginie Viard. Courtesy of Chanel

Chanel, a maison with specific codes and symbols in fact mirrors aspects of Dubai, specifically, its energy, notes Pavlovsky. “When you go to Dubai, you feel that people enjoy being there. You not only see people from there but also tourists. It’s a kind of platform for so many exchanges in terms of culture and we like this openness.” He shares that Dubai and the region overall show deep respect for the authenticity of the maison. “Our product is always about creation, know-how, unique materials, and I think we see that there is a respect in Dubai for this approach. There is a strong link because of that, and this connection is very authentic. If we are not happy to go to Dubai, we would have gone somewhere else—but we are very happy to go to Dubai!”

Vogue Arabia cover star Penélope Cruz in Chanel photographed by Luigi & Iango for Vogue Arabia November 2021 issue.

Of the 1000 guests expected at tomorrow’s show, the star celebrity in attendance will be Penélope Cruz. The actress graces the cover of this month’s issue of Vogue Arabia, interviewed by editor-in-chief Manuel Arnaut on location in Madrid and photographed by Luigi & Iango. Cruz is an ambassador of the house and staunch supporter of its creative director Virginie Viard, for whom Pavlosky also sings his praises. “You cannot do what we are doing, being so active in so many areas without having amazing people and the first one is Virigine Viard,” he says, emphasizing, “But she is not alone. Though she’s the visible one, there are many contributing.”

Vogue Arabia cover star Nora Attal walking the Chanel Cruise 2021-2022 collection in France. Courtesy of Chanel

As Viard’s cruise collection, inspired by Provence with flecks of lavender set against Chanel’s signature black and white hues, gets ready to unfold, one wonders what Mademoiselle Chanel would think of Dubai today, several years on since Karl Lagerfeld presented the Chanel Paris-Dubai collection. “She would have had a lot of friends,” muses Pavlovsky. “She would have learned a lot about the culture. Dubai is such a specific, famously rich and energetic city—she would have found something fabulous to create.” And while the ghost of Mademoiselle may be forever present, it’s Viard’s petites mains who are creating the exceptional accessories and clothes spun at Chanel. That talent is a focus that Pavlovsky aims to underscore in the coming years: “Where a product comes from—the raw materials to the artisans, couturières, and all people working and collaborating to make a Chanel product unique,” he says. “Chanel is about authenticity, and we want to be above everyone—every brand—to bring and to give our customers this authenticity of the product,” exclaims Pavlovsky. “It was unimaginable for many of us, two years ago, what we would go through with the pandemic. But remember, Chanel produced a collection during Covid when the factories were closed. Trust your people, and be optimistic about tomorrow,” he smiles. “There is drama with this moment but also such energy and capacity to react and find solutions—I don’t see what can stop us now.”

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