Chanel Cruise Dubai: The quilted jerry can debate
Was it crude?
As most of the fashion world is aware by now, Chanel hosted its Cruise 2014/15 presentation in Dubai this week: An event held under a bespoke building framed by an elegant Arabesque-style interlocking lattice, with traditional Middle Eastern coffee being served on arrival and shisha in the Bedouin tents on the sand outside, on the private Hamdan Island just off the coast of the Emirate (naturally).
Once the collection made its appearance on the runway surrounded by editors and friends of the brand sitting on low floor cushions, it was clear that Karl Lagerfeld had applied chic Arabian influences throughout, from Jalabiya silhouettes to splashes of red and white keffiyeh print on dresses. The accessories were a little more obvious however, and have divided opinion.
Aside from the quite stunningly beautiful giant pearl handbag and contemporary to the core flashing LED sandals (a reference to the city of Dubai being a "futuristic megalopolis" of course), there was a quilted oil jerry can (in gold) that caused instant furore. Comments across social media popped up, calling the creation "unimaginative" – a little too 'crude', if you'll pardon the pun. "Who is going to buy that?!" people asked, claiming, "He could have referenced our culture better..." And so on.
In light of the rest of a presentation that was unquestionably respectful, with elements that married olde-meets-new Arabia in one fell swoop, it's perhaps a slight overreaction to take offence to a single item intended as a tongue-in-cheek nod towards the reason Dubai is the affluent 'megalopolis' that attracted the Karl carnival to town in the first place. We're not talking quilted stuffed camels and logo-covered Abayas, here.
Anyone who follows the brand will be familiar with it being partial to an air of novelty. In February, Chanel constructed a supermarket set up under the Grand Palais' glass ceiling during Paris Fashion Week AW14, with items like 'Coco's Pops' cereal for guests to take away at the end of the show. It was perceived by most as a comment on consumerism by way of fashion, injecting a little haute humour into what can sometimes be the most pretentious of proceedings... And it's perfectly in keeping with Lagerfeld's relentless quest for the new.
Are these items that Coco herself would approve of during her lifetime? We hasten a guess not, but for the woman who stated, "Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening." – We're quite sure she would appreciate her predecessor's approach to the gloriously diverse, ever-changing world we live in today. Just like Dubai.