“Dubai is an important international platform”


On Tuesday, the powerful house of Chanel presented its 2021-22 cruise collection at Dubai Harbor Creek, in a lavish production through two shows, one in the afternoon and one to follow in the evening, in front of an audience of more than 1,000. guests. .

While the logistics of staging a show are complex, Bruno Pavlovsky, the president of fashion at Chanel, explains that, on the other hand, the decision to bring the show to Dubai was very simple.

“Dubai is not that far [from Europe] and it is an important international platform, a mixture of cultures, and with a lot of exchanges “, he says The National. “Also, the situation has been well monitored during this pandemic, so if we are here it is because we can be, which is not the case for most countries. It makes sense that we are here. we reconnect first with Dubai. “

As the world begins to emerge from the pandemic, fashion houses are slowly returning to shows staged in front of a live audience. “We are happy to be in Dubai, we have a wonderful place, a wonderful show, there is an incredible energy that you can feel in the region. Chanel is very happy to be here.

Chanel has a long relationship with Dubai. The French luxury fashion house was one of the first high-end pioneers to arrive in the UAE and once hosted a show here, when then-creative director Karl Lagerfeld put on his show from cruise in 2014.

However, for this collection in particular, it marks two historical moments: it is the first traveling collection of Virginie Viard, the new fashion artistic director of Chanel; and, interestingly, this is the first time that this collection will be presented to a physical audience.

While the collection debuted in May this year, it was transmitted digitally as a short film, due to pandemic restrictions. It was shot in an imposing former quarry in Baux-de-Provence, and Chanel hired a film crew to capture the vibe and vibe of the collection. The end result is elegant and beautiful to see, but for the Chanel team, more accustomed to the hectic pace of live fashion shows, it was a new and long experience.

“It was a nightmare,” Pavlovsky admits, laughing. “For us, the shoot was a very strange feeling. We stayed there for a day and a half, with the team who said: “Here we go, let’s try again”. But we don’t have the cinema spirit. We want fast, fast things. Fashion is all about energy.

Bruno Pavlovski.  Photo by Frédéric David

Pavlovsky is delighted to be back with a parade. “It’s good to see the fashion shows again. Yes, it’s a lot of work, but it’s a pleasure to reconnect with our customers.

This cruise collection, created by Viard, is a key element of this reconnection, because it reframes the house far from the beautiful primitude of the Lagerfeld years, and rather towards something younger, looser, more directional.

“Virginie has a unique perception and vision of today’s customer,” explains Pavlovsky. Having worked at Chanel for years alongside Lagerfeld himself, Viard has extensive knowledge of the house, and being a woman can translate that in ways Lagerfeld couldn’t. With Viard, the language is now softer and more subtle.

“What’s interesting is that Karl made incredible collections, but Virginie was there too. And today, she feels free to express something a little more feminine. Having had the chance to be with her during the fittings of the parades, we see the smile of the models when they try on their looks. They feel comfortable. “

Where Lagerfeld was more formal, Viard’s perspective is more relaxed, he says. “You feel the connection, the communication. It’s a lot easier.”

Of course, the whole point of a fashion show is to highlight a new collection that has been carefully designed behind locked doors for weeks, if not months. It is a unique opportunity for the house to deliver the clothes in a way that conveys the message behind it.

“Fashion is telling stories, putting everything together for 20 minutes, to give the right presentation of the collection,” says Pavlovsky. The cruise collection, for example, is just one of 10 catwalks Chanel presents each year, from ready-to-wear to haute couture. Such a schedule is punitive, but Pavlovsky clearly understands why it is so important to the house.

“We’re very lucky to start over 10+ times a year, with new storytelling, new approach and new inspiration. Every collection is a new adventure. The reason Virginia isn’t here in Dubai is because she focuses on the Crafts Collection of Art which will take place in a month. And six weeks later we have haute couture. Yes, it’s a lot of work, but it’s a chance to be inspired, to work with a lot of different people and to bring something new to everyone It’s very inspiring for us.

Such a fast-paced reinvention, according to Pavlovsky, is part of the almost mythical air that surrounds Chanel, and it’s what keeps customers coming back season after season.

“No one needs a new bag or a new pair of shoes,” he explains. “So you have to find the reason to make it very special, and at Chanel, we are lucky to do so. We are selling a dream. “

Even the global disruption caused by the pandemic hasn’t stopped customers from flocking to Chanel. Even when boutiques were closed, the house found a way to connect directly with customers, delivering carefully selected selections right to their doorstep and offering virtual style chats with brand ambassadors.

“I don’t think the definition of luxury has changed, but it has grown stronger. More than ever, we need the brand to have a lot of authenticity. More than ever, there is total transparency, and total traceability. So when we do something, it’s because we think it makes sense to our customers. It is a strong story, strong fashion and strong know-how.

“Our customers, they can afford whatever they want, so every morning Chanel has to have a specific space in their mind. And we have to be there, and constantly fill that space with a new dream, a new reason and that. is very important. “

Part of that dream, according to Pavlovsky, is being clear about pricing, sustainability, and responsibility. During the pandemic, Chanel increased its prices by 15% for many of its products. While this may seem like a risky strategy in this time of global uncertainty, Pavlovsky is happy to be transparent.

We were very active in making sure everyone got paid and kept their jobs

Bruno Pavlovsky, president of fashion at Chanel

“Everything is more expensive. As you know, spring 2020 was quite difficult for everyone. We did not cancel any orders during the pandemic. We paid all our staff 100% and pushed our suppliers to do Even. We were very active in making sure that everyone was paid and kept their jobs. Raw materials are very difficult to obtain, especially the best quality, so it comes at a cost. “

Chanel is also committed to transforming its entire structure into something more sustainable and environmentally friendly.. In March 2020, it launched Mission 1.5 °, as part of its mission to keep the global temperature rise at a sustainable level, and in July 2021, announced a $ 25 million investment in the company of fight against climate change through the World Wide Fund for Nature.

“It’s more than strategic,” he explains. “You can’t afford the ultimate in luxury and not be on the cutting edge of technology. From product to manufacturing method to recyclability, we work on all these topics and must be not only consistent, but exemplary. It is not a compromise, because we are Chanel and that is what our customers expect. “

Updated: November 2, 2021, 13:34

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