Hashtag Chanel Cruise Dubai: Some Kind of Reality

Hashtag Chanel Cruise Dubai: Some Kind of Reality

It’s been a three day marathon of intense firsts for me.  First time in Dubai.  Check.  First time cavorting through sand dunes in the desert.  Check.  First time attending what seem to be increasingly extravagant Chanel Cruise trips.  Check, check and check.  “Happily discombobulated” (thanks Tilda Swinton for putting words in my mouth!) is the best way of summing up the whole experience.  Dubai has its own heavily contrasting layers of artifice and reality but having Chanel bring you out to this city, straight into lush hotel surroundings, sumptuous feasts and ace activity planning is another heady layer of fantasy.

Whilst I’m in the middle of a travelling “cruise” jaunt at the moment (first Dior in New York, then Chanel in Dubai and next up, Louis Vuitton in Monaco), it’s fair to say that Chanel owns the cruise escapade, taking a select few (plus the entire world through social media now – judging by likes/comments, people seem to be loving all things #ChanelCruiseDubai) to far flung places yes, but then creating their own super heightened (or twisted in some cases) vision of that particular place.  That was certainly the case with Dubai, a city that is everything and nothing at the same time.


Karl Lagerfeld was apparently fascinated by the fact this was a city built up from the sand and the sea and indeed, that was the first thing that strikes you as you drive into the downtown area, confronted by skyscrapers seemingly sprung up out of nowhere and into the mega malls that house every brand under the sun (I now know where I can go to scuba dive, ice skate, shop and eat at Cartier, COS, Pottery Barn and Eric Kayser all in one place).  Up the stupendously tall Burj Khalifa and you find yourself faced with a dizzying sight of mishmash architecture and beyond this mini metropolis, desert, sea and man made islands – we spied Chanel’s intended show venue from up above – a deserted sandbank that had been magically transformed.




High on our dream Dubai agenda list was the desert.  For me, it was just the simple act of seeing and feeling it.  A little like when I used to go to Margate/Westgate with Steve at weekends and stared at the sea because I grew up mostly land-locked.  Two hours of driving through the sand dunes, running up a hill and encountering onyxes and camels was definitely enough of a contrasting foil to the brushed steel and glass of downtown Dubai.

IMG_0091A traditional ghutra Chanel SS 14 style… 

…as modelled by Gianluca Longo…IMG_0092

IMG_0099 Yes, those are my Celine sneakers submerged in sand.  Just doing what Phoebe Philo said – “Love Life”.  Oh, and forgive my conical looking ghutra.  That’s the pitfall of having a top knot.



Back in the city, along the banks of the Dubai Creek in the “old” part of Dubai (old meaning retro relics from the 1970s) you have souks hawking gold, diamonds and spices.  Whilst hardly like the souks of Marrakech or the Grand Bazaar of Istanbul, there were at the very least hints of “tradition” in this city, however displaced and imported they might be.





Unsurprisingly, it was the “tacky” ostentatious gold that I loved rather than the tasteful stuff. IMG_0134





When I told people I was going to Dubai, they’d  grimace and say things like, “It’s like Vegas… so fake!”  That was ultimately the question swirling around throughout this three day trip – what is real and what is fake?  Perhaps that was behind Karl Lagerfeld’s thinking in bringing us to Dubai.  The contrasts of this strange some-kind-of-reality city all played out at the show.  We departed for the man made island on traditional wooden Abra boats.  The guests formed a sea of white, black and pearls, with shades of pastels popping up, courtesy of Chanel – hardcore clients from the region were all of course invited in their droves and they pledged their allegiance to the brand head to toe.



0E5A7266   0E5A7335






0E5A7438I don’t think I’ve seen such an array of enthusiastic (and still incredibly individual) Chanel fangirls. 




0E5A7447I sadly couldn’t adhere to that specific dress code so did my best in a Borne white ruffled shirt, a Tsumori Chisato tutu skirt embroidered with little surfers and palm trees and trusty Christopher Kane embellished sandals for the sand, which covered both the ground of both outside and inside the venue.   Thanks to Antony Miles and Kevin Tachman for the quick-pics.  


On the island a path lined with palm trees, bedouin tents and shisha pipes led to a structure that floored most people.  A box of a building clad with gold fretwork that you might find in Islamic design except here, the motif was a repeat pattern of interlocking CC’s.  Chanel frickin’ fretwork that will be dismantled after the show and disappear as quickly as it was erected.



0E5A7385Charlie Miller from Grazia smoking up something good…







At the ready to wear shows in Paris, the physical central set pretty much always dictates the story.  Here far away in cruise situ, Chanel really takes liberty to go one step further and carve out their own fantasy, complete with every fastidious detail.  They got the timing of the show just right as Charlotte Free opened the show with her shock of pink hair back combed and big, to begin the relaxed tweeds and cotton daywear as a backdrop of midnight blue had fallen in the skies.


The course of the fifty-something look show swung and swerved through Lagerfeld’s own vision of the Orient (meant strictly in the inoffensive endearingly old-fashioned Victorian sense of the word).  Beyond Dubai, Lagerfeld mined this part of the world, cherry picking decorative details and features to collage together into a wardrobe, that women from all over the globe with deep pockets would want to wear in sunny climes, or layered up in colder ones.  Lagerfeld continues the ongoing conversation about the changing world and woman – that the former is getting smaller and the latter travels around it more frequently and that they can freely wear clothes rooted to another part of the world that’s not their own.  Keffiyah prints, boucherouite rag rug tweeds and then an explosion of print, mostly abstracted and taken from 11th century Islamic tiles all featured heavily.  Brightly hued geometrics and floral motifs were patchworked, laser-cut and pleated as Chanel’s penchant for surface experimentation came into its own.  This is where the collection’s verve really kicked on.  The silhouettes veered in a see-saw motion from Paul Poiret’s Oriental forms to Ossie Clark and Bill Gibb’s free-flowing folkloric romance.  “Marisa Berenson on a magic carpet” is how Tilda Swinton aptly summed it up when asked about the show.





















In amongst this Arabian Nights fantasy were little knowing humour nods that have come to signify Lagerfeld’s tenure at Chanel.  The quilted gold bag shaped like a petrol can for instance as those that have accumulated their wealth through oil continue to spend, spend, spend in Chanel boutiques.  The perspex strappy mid-height sandals that light up in the heels and the soles – a statement shoe for the women who want something to sparkle from beneath black burqas.  The crescent moon jewellery – sometimes precious, sometimes paste – again asserting our questioning of what is real and what’s not.  What really resonated though was Lagerfeld’s respect for modesty attire in this part of the world as barely shoulders or legs were on display throughout the course of the show.

0E5A7753 0E5A7768





None of the referencing and semantics will really matter to this audience.  The sheikhas and princesses applauded with delight.  If they arrived at the show already enthusiastically trussed up in current SS14 brushstroke prints and couture pastel tweeds, these harem trousers, floral cardigans and long abaya-esque robes and dish dasha-type tunics will fly.  And beyond the sheikhas?  I can only speak for my oil-lacking but print-loving self – together with Phil Oh, I am a prime advocate of #FlorCore – so those prints were right up my street.  Then of course comes the crash back down to reality, when Chanel from my POV is for seeing, observing and analysing, rather than actually wearing.

Still, my bucket list just got three items shorter.  Dubai.  Desert.  Chanel Cruise.  That was all real.  And it was all real good.

0E5A7840P.S. After years of trepidation of post-show crowds, in this slightly (I say “slightly”) more intimate setting, I got a sentence with Karl at a Chanel show.  Yay me.  Maybe next time, I’ll string it along to two sentences.  One can only hope. 

0E5A7847And thanks Tilda for being “happily discombobulated” .  

0E5A7867Janelle Monae’s expression here mirrored mine when I left the venue and looked back to see…

…this… 0E5A7887

0E5A7889So long Dubai.  I doubt I’ll be back but I’m glad this was the specific occasion to see you.  


Leave a comment
  1. Ashley

    2014-05-14 at 4:15 PM

    Thank you for taking us with you! Great summary.

  2. gaptoothedgirl

    2014-05-14 at 4:56 PM

    Love this photos, it seems to be there
    xox, Gap.


    2014-05-14 at 5:01 PM

    Take the clothes where the money is. Design for the rich openly is at least honest.
    Am I jealous, could be, LOL
    Thank you for sharing, dear Susie.

  4. Marsha @ Splenderosa

    2014-05-14 at 6:44 PM

    Love the way you write!
    Love your personality.
    Really great post which kept me interested from top to bottom, and I know all about the Middle East.

  5. Anastasia

    2014-05-14 at 8:29 PM

    Dear Susie, IT’S JUST AMAZING!
    I really really like that you capture the whole atmosphere of the event, not merely the catwalk. I admire the way you treat fashion in a cultural aspect, not just focusing on pretty clothes. And also I admire you hard word on each post, it’s seen very clear, probably you are the only one top fashion blogger with a real editorial level. Thanks for an interesting article and constant personal inspiration.



  6. StepForward

    2014-05-15 at 8:30 AM

    Love you so much!!!!
    I am also from Hong Kong and you’re always my role model.
    I want to be a famous fashion blogger like you do.
    Please check my bog out to see if there’s any suggestion for it and support my dream=] Thanks!

  7. Natalia | Fashioned by Love

    2014-05-15 at 10:23 AM

    Looks like a completely different world… What a trip and what a show. Thank you so much for sharing these photos – soooooo much better than browsing still frontal views on style.com & co.

  8. Carsla

    2014-05-15 at 2:16 PM

    Safe travels! I love it! Great fashions & scenery. (: Looking forward to your future posts.

    <3 Carsla
    Founder & CEO of Connect-the-Cloths
    A stylist, foodie, & writer's blog in development.

  9. sasa

    2014-05-15 at 3:43 PM

    Love these pictures from Dubai. Lindsay, feifei and John Smalls are awesome. Love Janelle too, she has the best live performance:) XO


  10. Alice

    2014-05-16 at 7:15 AM

    These pieces are so colorful! I love them!

  11. Kierra

    2014-05-17 at 2:27 AM

    Ive heard amazing things about Dubai! The women there are so fashionable.

  12. The Provoker

    2014-05-17 at 3:51 AM

    Susie, what can I say other than how in AWE I am with this show, I never really knew about the events that went on behind the show, but I’m glad I was able to see them through your eyes here (and yay for whipping out the good cam, these shots are more than ‘pinterestable’). Saying Karl outdone himself is an understatement, there’s something about his world that makes anyone fall madly in love in wanting to be a CC girl. Your outfit was so spot on, it’s perfect with the sandals, the ruffle drapes, and also noticed you also got those celine sneakers! We’re suckers for LOVELIFE branding and funky products a la phoebez. Have fun in Monaco, I’d be waiting for more of the jaw-dropping insider scoop from you.


  13. Anastasia Dedonaki

    2014-05-17 at 6:37 AM

    fantastic report, I love the way you write (personal, accurate with a sense of humour) ,
    I feel like I was there too,

  14. Kelly King

    2014-05-17 at 1:26 PM

    Hi There

    Loved this report. I have lived in Dubai/Abu Dhabi for 5 years so interesting to hear your take on it.

    A note – the black robes that the local ladies wear are called Abayas not Burqas. A Burqa is a type of robe but not the type worn by the ladies locally.

  15. Julia

    2014-05-17 at 4:59 PM

    Looooved it! Great pictures! 🙂 http://www.cosmicconfession.blogspot.de

  16. Emily

    2014-05-22 at 10:41 AM

    Your reference to Marrakech brought back so many memories, glad you had such a fantastic time in Dubai despite the artificial culture.

    The catwalk pictures are absolutely stunning, I found some similar quirky tops http://www.greatplains.co.uk/category/womens+Casual+Tops/Tops.htm do you know where I could buy something similar? Thanks in advance for your help! 🙂

    – Emily

  17. safraonfashion

    2014-06-24 at 7:28 AM

    Love the colors! So inspiring :)))



  18. stainless steel jewelry

    2014-06-26 at 10:32 AM

    Thanks for another informative blog. The place else may I am getting that kind of info written in such a perfect approach?
    I have a undertaking that I’m simply now running on, and I’ve been on the glance out
    for such information.

  19. Great post. I was checking continuously this blog and I am impressed!
    Very helpful information specifically the last part :
    ) I care for such info a lot. I was looking for this certain information for a long
    time. Thank you and good luck.

    Check out my web page :: Carpet Installation Pompano Beach

  20. Ute

    2014-07-09 at 2:27 AM

    I enjoy what you guys tend to be up too. This type of clever work and reporting!
    Keep up the amazing works guys I’ve added you guys to

  21. Fountainhead Condos For Sale

    2014-07-19 at 9:55 PM

    Today, while I was at work, my sister stole my iPad and tested to see if it can survive a twenty five
    foot drop, just so she can be a youtube sensation. My apple ipad is now broken and she has 83 views.
    I know this is totally off topic but I had to share it with someone!

    Feel free to surf to my webpage :: Fountainhead Condos For Sale

  22. Myrtle Beach Fishing Guides

    2014-07-23 at 5:46 AM

    Please let me know if you’re looking for a author for your blog.
    You have some really good posts and I believe
    I would be a good asset. If you ever want to take some of the load off, I’d absolutely
    love to write some articles for your blog in exchange for a link
    back to mine. Please blast me an e-mail if interested.

    Check out my web blog … Myrtle Beach Fishing Guides

  23. Melba

    2014-07-27 at 3:51 PM

    Just wish to say your article is as amazing. The clarity in your put up is just
    spectacular and i could suppose you’re an expert on this subject.
    Well with your permission let me to seize your feed to stay updated with coming near near post.
    Thanks a million and please continue the gratifying work.

  24. Vicki

    2014-08-20 at 4:04 PM

    What an incredible adventure. There are so many incredible pieces in that collection that I now need to somehow get a hold of. I found it so interesting when you mentioned about the light up shoes and petrol can bag, what a clever man Karl is. And respectful of the country also. So many amazing little details, a trip like this is going on the bucket list for sure! Oh, one day…
    Love Vicki x

  25. kirsty

    2014-08-23 at 9:19 AM

    Perfect!!! amazing post!


  26. Lazaro

    2014-08-25 at 12:14 PM

    Just desire to say your article is as astounding. The clarity for
    your put up is simply excellent and i could suppose you are knowledgeable in this subject.
    Well along with your permission let me to seize your RSS feed to stay updated with forthcoming post.
    Thank you one million and please carry on the gratifying

  27. anuntpublic.com

    2014-09-20 at 6:43 AM

    This blog was… how do I say it? Relevant!! Finally I’ve found something which helped me.
    Appreciate it!

  28. Danuta

    2014-09-22 at 1:58 AM

    Do you have a spam problem on this site; I also am a blogger, and
    I was curious about your situation; we have created some nice methods and we
    are looking to exchange methods with others,
    why not shoot me an e-mail if interested.

  29. Rachael

    2014-09-28 at 2:50 AM

    Admiring the hard work you put into your blog and in depth information you provide.
    It’s good to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same out of date rehashed
    material. Great read! I’ve saved your site and I’m adding your RSS feeds to my
    Google account.

  30. An antibiotic is designed to attack bacteria,
    but is unable to differentiate between the good and
    bad bacteria and will destroy both. These were natural home treatments that people reportedly had
    great success with in treating this condition. This occurs because the level of sodium has
    dropped too low in your system.

  31. AIEEE 2014

    2014-09-28 at 2:15 PM

    hello!,I really like your writing so so much!
    share we communicate extra about your article on AOL?
    I require a specialist in this area to unravel my problem.
    Maybe that’s you! Taking a look forward to look you.

  32. zarosniete.eu

    2014-09-30 at 3:59 AM

    If some one desires expert view about blogging and site-building then i recommend him/her to
    pay a quick visit this web site, Keep up the
    nice job.

  33. Francis

    2014-10-07 at 5:39 PM

    Hi there, just became alert to your blog through Google, and found that it’s really
    informative. I am gonna watch out for brussels.
    I’ll be grateful if you continue this in future.
    Lots of people will be benefited from your writing. Cheers!

  34. With havin so much written content do you ever run into any problems of plagorism or copyright
    violation? My website has a lot of unique content I’ve either
    written myself or outsourced but it appears a lot of it is popping it up all over the internet without my agreement.

    Do you know any solutions to help protect against content from being stolen? I’d genuinely appreciate it.

  35. arky.in

    2014-10-07 at 10:22 PM

    Thanks in support of sharing such a pleasant thinking,
    paragraph is fastidious, thats why i have read it completely

Leave a Comment