DUBAI/MILAN: Donatella Versace pumped energy into Milan Fashion week with a star-studded runway and guest list — with the likes of US-Palestinian model Gigi Hadid and British-Albanian pop superstar Dua Lipa hitting the catwalk in a number of sultry looks.
The collection was strong on the fashion house’s identifying markers: Bright colors, safety pins and lusciously silky foulards.
British singer and emerging fashion icon Dua Lipa opened the runway show in a skin-baring black suit held together with colored safety pins as her song “Physical” blasted through the venue and closed it in a liquidy fuchsia skirt and corset, The Associated Press reported.
In between, she was joined by Naomi Campbell, brightly clad in a hot-pink suit and orange shirt, Gigi Hadid in a snug latex black dress with just a silky flash of turquoise and pink, and Madonna’s daughter Lourdes Leon Ciccone, in a metallic silvery dress.
Black suits and dresses with tiny flashes of color in pins and foulards that peeked from hemlines and slits formed the beginning of the show. Toward the end, the colors grew ever more bold until they burst into a vivid palette of pink, aquamarine, seafoam green, acid green and yellow.
“The foulard is a fundamental component of Versace’s heritage and character,” Versace said in the show notes. “This season (it) turns everything on its head, it is no longer fluid or dreamy, the scarf is provocative, sexy, wound tight.”
Menswear was more relaxed, with floral suits, sportier varsity jackets with mesh tops, or bright leather jackets paired with tight T-shirts and jeans.
Front-row guests at the show included Milan’s own fashion influencer-turned-entrepreneur Chiara Ferragni and her husband, the singer Fedez, US influencer-turned-actress Addison Rae and actress Bella Thorne with her Italian beau, singer Benjamin Mascolo.
Meanwhile, Italian fashion house Prada returned to the live runway for the first time since February 2020, when the creative partnership between Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons was announced.
The collection was dotted with trains, corsets and evening gowns as Simons bemoaned the “irreality” of an evening gown “however beautiful,” as many gowns have spent the pandemic hanging in closets.
“These clothes can become complicated — evening dresses, historical costume. We want to make it uncomplicated, easy, that feels modern,” Simons said.
Zac Efron, Jessica Alba return for latest Dubai Tourism campaign
Updated 21 October 2021
DUBAI: Hollywood actors Zac Efron and Jessica Alba are the stars of Dubai Tourism’s fifth and latest promotional campaign.
Released on Wednesday, the short action-packed clip, titled “Dubai: A Riveting Mystery,” sees the duo embark on an adventure to solve a mystery in the UAE city.
The video starts in the Dubai Opera center and features other locations including Al-Seef, the Museum of the Future, and Downtown Dubai.
Dubai Tourism recently released three videos, directed by Australian filmmaker Craig Gillespie, ahead of the long-awaited Expo 2020 Dubai event.
The first ad was a spoof of an action film featuring Alba and Efron fighting off enemies at well-known landmarks across the city, such as the Burj Khalifa skyscraper, and the Museum of the Future.
In the second video, the stars appeared as tourists visiting the city. Upon arrival at their hotels, they discover they have got each other’s bags. The celebrities then travel across the city on various adventures to meet and collect their identical luggage.
In the third advert, Efron plays two characters, a younger and older version of himself who comes from the future to teach him life lessons. The two characters go on a journey in the country’s souks and surrounding deserts, and also go skydiving.
For the fourth video, Alba stars as a young pilot who explores the country’s deserts. The clip takes a close look at the UAE’s traditional activities and attractions.
The films present some of Dubai’s most-admired sites, including the city’s dunes, Sheikh Zayed Road that runs through the heart of Dubai, Dubai Creek, and the historic Al-Fahidi district.
The plaza will also host six artists, including Moh Flow, Shebani, Freek, Michele, Molham and Mougleta, from Flash Entertainment and Virgin Radio Dubai’s Regional Artist Spotlight (RAS) initiative until 10:30 p.m.
Entry for the opening weekend at the plaza is free. However, visitors will need to purchase tickets at Ain Dubai’s website to experience a ride on the wheel.
Ain Dubai – or Eye Dubai in Arabic – stands over 250 metres. It will offer visitors a 360-degree view of the city and its coastline.
It will have 48 capsules, which can carry more than 1,750 visitors at once, with each of the 30-square-meter capsules having the capability to be converted into fine-dining venues for up to a dozen guests.
Louvre Abu Dhabi showcases historic cultural links between China, Islamic world
Second international exhibition of the year explores artistic exchange stretching back centuries
Updated 21 October 2021
Rebecca Anne Proctor
DUBAI: Over the past decade the world has watched as China has expanded its economic presence in the Gulf region, becoming the biggest trading partner and external investor for many Middle Eastern countries.
Yet what many forget is that China’s relationship with the Arab world dates back to antiquity — to the time of the Silk Road and the birth of Islam in the Arabian Peninsula.
Thanks to Arab explorers, such as the 14th-century adventurer Ibn Battuta, and the expansion of trade activities in Europe, business and cultural exchange flourished between China and the Arab world.
What many analysts refer to as China’s “new Silk Road” is, in essence, a return to this shared past, one that is explored through the exhibition “Dragon and Phoenix: Centuries of Exchange between Chinese and Islamic Worlds,” on display at the Louvre Abu Dhabi until Feb. 12, 2022.
The show includes over 200 masterpieces from the Louvre Abu Dhabi in partnership with the Guimet Museum in Paris, and showcases the cultural and artistic exchange between the two civilizations for more than 800 years up till the 18th century.
The exhibition pays tribute to the Dragon, representing China, and the Phoenix, referring to the Islamic world, with artifacts dating back to the establishment of the first Arab merchant colonies in the trading city of Canton in the 8th century.
Objects reveal the journeys of tradesmen and explorers from the Arab world through Central Asia and across the Indian Ocean to China and South-east Asia.
“Dragon and Phoenix: Centuries of Exchange between Chinese and Islamic Worlds” was curated by Sophie Makariou, president of the Guimet Museum, in collaboration with Souraya Noujaim, scientific, curatorial and collections management director, and Guilhem Andre, Louvre Abu Dhabi’s chief curator of Asian and medieval art.
“The exhibition gives visitors the opportunity to compare artworks, set side by side, from different regions that are connected by overwhelming aesthetic and symbolic similarities,” Andre told Arab News.
“The works appear similar at first glance, but when you uncover their history and provenance you are made aware of the many threads of inspiration and cultural exchange which run between the Chinese and Islamic worlds. Each of these items and the materials used represent mediums for artistic exchange between these great cultures.”
Masterpieces on display include the Louvre Abu Dhabi’s rare Yuan dynasty (1279-1368) gold cup with dragon-shaped handle from China, which may have been made for a nomadic dignitary.
Another highlight is the Panni Tartarici (or Tartar cloths) — Mongol silk fabric with gold threads — from the Guimet collection.
A calligraphy section features paintings and calligraphies by Wen Zhengming (1470-1559), Dong Qichang (1555–1636) and Zha Shibiao (1615–1698) on loan from the Guimet Museum. These works correspond to the exquisite letters of Arabic script found in a selection of illuminated manuscripts from the Qur’an.
The exhibition also includes paintings, silverware, ceramic, glassware, manuscripts and luxury fabrics.
“Wherever trade routes exist, artistic and cultural exchange exists in parallel,” Andre said. “With every exhibition, we hope that visitors come away with an understanding that, as humans, we have more in common than we realize, whether historically or in the present day. Exhibitions such as this allow us to trace the routes of exchange and inspiration between peoples and cultures that have been present for thousands of years and will continue to be sources of inspiration.”
The exhibition will be accompanied by a cultural program, including weekend family film screenings.
Andre said that the exhibition is the Louvre Abu Dhabi’s most important show of 2021. With the opening of Expo 2020, this is a pivotal year for the UAE in terms of cultural exchange, he added.
In 2022, the Louvre Abu Dhabi will feature a performance piece by local artist Ahmed Al-Areef. Starting in October, educational activities and programs will include daily express tours for adults, Take Me to Asia interactive events with museum educators, “MakeandPlay” activities inspired by the exhibition, and masterclasses.
Lebanese design star Racil Chalhoub on how the pandemic changed her outlook on creativity, management
‘Beirut makes me want to dress up more than London does,’ says Racil Chalhoub
Updated 21 October 2021
PARIS: Racil Chalhoub was 10 years old when she told her mother she wanted to be a fashion designer. They had gone to see a Marinelli fashion show at the Hotel Georges V in Paris when — blown away by what she had seen — the young Chalhoub turned to her mother and said: “That’s exactly what I want to do!”
In 2015, her dream came true when she launched her line of tuxedos for women — Racil — in London. The name is not an exercise in self-promotion, but a tribute to her mother, with whom she shares not only a first name, but also a keen and quirky fashion sense. She has since expanded her line to include dresses and tops.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, bringing the fashion industry and most of the world to a halt, Chalhoub — who was born in Lebanon, raised in Paris, and now lives in London, took the opportunity to pause, reflect and refocus her efforts.
Out of that time, a new collection was born earlier this year: an explosion of colors counterbalancing the black leggings and gray sweatshirts worn during lockdowns. For her Fall/Winter collection, black was replaced by brown and fresher colors, including coral, fuchsia, yellow and many more.
In her London apartment towards the end of summer, Chalhoub reflected on the past peculiar year, and discussed her inspirations and desires for her next collection with Arab News.
How would you say the COVID-19 pandemic has affected your creative process and your daily work?
There are two complementary aspects in my field: creation and management — whether that’s regarding the brand, the business, the employees... The pandemic has really affected both of those aspects.
Creatively, it’s hard to stay inspired when you’re locked up at home, alone, for several months. Especially when you’re worrying about other things — the business, the employees, and family in Lebanon. So, honestly, I was facing a bit of a creative block. There are three elements that are always on my mood board: First, my mother, who is my muse and inspires me a lot, but whom I hadn’t seen for nearly a year. Second, (discos, clubs and) parties — and all of a sudden, we can’t go out. And third, the street. I walk a lot. I can find inspiration in a park or café, people-watching. During COVID, none of these three elements were present.
It was only when I managed to escape from London in the summer to meet up with friends on vacation, to soak in the sun, roam the streets — when I was able to live a little again — that I found inspiration. Then I would sit in my corner and draw.
As for the management side, that was also difficult, because I came home one day and then never went back to the office. I have a team of 12 girls, whom I consider family. If I’m not doing well, the chances are they’re not doing well either.
So this period allowed me to think a lot about the structure of the company and the brand: what my identity is and where I’m heading. Coming out of all this, would I want the same thing as before? How could I adapt without losing my vision? I mean, with COVID we realized that the first thing we can live without is a suit or a tuxedo. A tuxedo is usually used to go to a gala or to a dinner, which we weren’t doing. We wear a suit to go to the office, where we weren’t going. But, at the same time, it’s what I love. It’s my brand’s DNA and I don’t want to lose that. So, why not translate it in a more relaxed way? I felt I couldn’t resume where I left off: I needed something different. So, in September, I decided to rebrand. I designed a new logo, launched new pieces, new categories and started new collaborations.
I was feeling very restricted even before the pandemic. I had started this brand with this DNA and I really felt like it was the only thing I could do. So COVID was both an opportunity and a great excuse to say, “I’m going to try this, because it’s my brand. I’m going to allow myself to do it, and I’m going to see how my customers react.” And, so far, the reactions have been quite positive.
Would you say this new collection is more focused on the essentials?
For me, a jacket is essential. I’ve remained in that lane, but with different ‘essentials,’ adapted a little more to today's lifestyles. I have reduced the size of the collection, too. And I also worked a lot slower, which was quite stressful, but a lot more enjoyable as well. Before the pandemic, my days were always very stressful. It was a constant race. Then, all of a sudden, it was like we’d unplugged everything. So then we had to work out how to reconnect everything. But one thing I’m sure of: I cannot afford to run that fast anymore.
We’re in a situation where we have to accept that some things are beyond our control. Before, if a delivery from a factory was late, I’d go crazy. Now I just do what I can. I can set a schedule and do everything I can to make everything work as it should, but you have to accept the slowdowns and setbacks. In the fashion business, where everything is so fast, this is refreshing.
Taking things day-by-day, not knowing what tomorrow holds, and realizing you can’t control everything… Would you say that resembles the Lebanese outlook?
That’s the Lebanese attitude, indeed. We still live day-by-day.
I was born in Beirut, but I grew up in Paris and I didn’t live in Lebanon for long. But my family is there. I have lots of friends there. It’s a country I adore and which touches my heart infinitely. Before the pandemic and the various crises affecting Lebanon now, I would always take my dresses, my tuxedos, and my heels when I visited Beirut. I knew there would be great parties; that we were going to go out and see people. Beirut often makes me want to dress up more than London does.
I definitely think Lebanon influences me. I like the attitude of Lebanese women, who like to go out, to look beautiful, to dress well. They have this glamorous side.
So, you take inspiration from France, Lebanon and England?
Yes. I think every country has offered me something different. I have a very Parisian side to my everyday look, which is both a little nonchalant and quite chic at the same time. Fashion in London is very funky and colorful. You can really express yourself. There is a great contrast between French and English looks. All of that mixed together gives something quite unique, which I try to represent with Racil.
My background is, in fact, not in art. I have a PhD in anthropology and I worked in France’s Museum of Natural History. My husband had an opportunity to move to China, so we moved there and then to Singapore. I was in the intellectual field for so many years and wanted to do something with my hands.
I took some art classes and after one ceramics class, I said: ‘OK, this is it. This is what I really want to do.’ What I like about pottery is the way that you can touch and move the clay. You have a dialogue with the clay. It’s very relieving, very natural. And your brain doesn’t work. I mean it works, but not in the same way.
My goal is always to push the clay as much as possible. I tear it, make holes in it and then I patch it. It’s always like a game with the clay. For me, it’s like a metaphor for life: It’s never smooth, there are always accidents, cracks, and you have to keep going.
I grew up in Lebanon and I left when I was 17. The story of this country is you always have to leave it. When I wasn’t living there, I had this ideal image of it. I have memories of Lebanon’s mountains and their colors — red, yellow, purple. They always moved me. You can see on the horizon one mountain after another, they’re like lines. When I began to do artistic pottery, I began to mix different clays and make horizons, a little bit like landscapes.
My pieces are round but with this piece, I opened it up a little bit more. It’s much more destructured. I think it’s directly linked to the whole ambiance in Lebanon. I didn’t have a plan for what I was doing; it was quite natural. When I looked at my piece, I thought it was chaos — much more so than my other works. We had two years of chaos in Lebanon. There’s a little bit of violence in the work too.
I particularly like this sculpture, because it’s a change in my work and it’s really a link to the time I spent in Lebanon. I won’t sell it. I’ll keep it for myself.