In struts Chanel: King Karl eyes Dubai as next fashion capital

On May 13, the luxury brand juggernaut that is Planet Chanel lands in Dubai to present its SS14 Cruise Collection

Ahlya Fateh
Ahlya Fateh
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On May 13, the luxury brand juggernaut that is Planet Chanel lands in Dubai to present its SS14 Cruise Collection to the world’s press and its largest market. Chanel is a privately owned company so figures are merely conjecture but if rumors are to be believed then the Dubai boutique is the highest grossing retail outlet of them all. Previous locations have included St Tropez, Singapore, Dallas and even the wilds of Scotland and each show has grown in magnificence to bring the world of Chanel to the great and good.

Kaiser Karl’s choice of venue only goes to confirm that the buying power of the Middle East is still all encompassing, despite serious challenges from Russia and lately, China. However Dubai is still at the forefront of retail, with Karl Lagerfeld deep into developing his vision – Isla Moda – an entire island dedicated to fashion, 20 miles off the coast of Dubai. How fabulous to envisage a world where everything is gilded with Lagerfeld’s special brand of luxury! This last week in Paris, Chanel created its most prosaic venue yet, by envisaging what would happen if Chanel ever went into the supermarket business. Models wandered up and down pushing shopping carts while browsing products which boasted mark ups of 30 percent instead of the usual Buy One, Get One Free that the rest of us mere mortals are used to seeing.

The fact that Dubai is seen as a credible venue for such a prestigious fashion event not only confirms its place as more than just a travel destination but also for its ability to maintain its commercial retail prowess at a time when other luxury stores are failing to keep shoppers engaged and spending. As e-commerce grows to take a larger and larger part of the pie, retailers in Dubai are still pushing the envelope in order to give clients an experience in shopping theatre. When I talk to friends and business associates they all cite Dubai and other Emirati states as the real future of the retail industry in the area. As other territories suffer unrest and/or financial instability, Dubai has now diversified enough to ensure that it is no longer seen as a one trick pony and is attracting more and more investment from outside its borders.

How will Chanel reinforce Dubai’s position as the premier shopping destination in the world?

Ahlya Fateh

This can only bode well for Dubai’s long term economic growth and stability; last November, the Swatch Group bought out luxury retailer Rivoli Investments and gained 360 businesses across the Middle East in the process. If you consider that the Middle East luxury market is worth around $8 billion and that Dubai commands 30 percent of that entire regional stake, then it is no wonder that luxury brands are seeking to link themselves with the city itself. In return, Arab wealth is now investing back into this very market – Qatar now holds a minority stake in LVMH, owns Harrods and has also invested in British luxury accessories brand Anya Hindmarch. As the lines blur between travel, shopping and tourism, it will become common to see a Saudi woman buying a French designer handbag in a Dubai Mall shop owned by a Swiss watchmaker! Thanks to our smart phones and tablets we can shop anywhere we want for any product that we need, whenever we want it. It is no longer strange to hear stories of shoppers who have requested that a certain piece be made available through another retailer in order to satisfy their consumer hunger.

So, as May approaches the fashion world awaits with breath that is bated; how will Chanel reinforce Dubai’s position as the premier shopping destination in the world? Whatever it turns out that Mr. Lagerfeld has up his boucle wool sleeve, it promises to be nothing less than spectacular. We’ve already experienced the designer supermarket, how about the luxury branded petrol station?


Ahlya Fateh knows all about fashion and publishing. As the former managing editor of Tatler magazine and the managing director of fashion brand, Tata Naka, she has combined a strong creative vision with an understanding of strategy and management. Ahlya lives in London and is a mother of two.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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