ABU DHABI — The United Arab Emirates will see an influx of French luxury in November.
Comité Colbert, the French luxury trade association, will be holding a series of events in Abu Dhabi from Nov. 12 to Dec. 14 aimed at showcasing the know-how of its members. The initiative will be spread across several locations throughout the emirate with the aim of developing a dialogue between French and Emirati culture.
“This is part of the international strategy of Comité Colbert to install cultural dialogue in countries where our brands are present,” Elisabeth Ponsolle des Portes, president and chief executive officer of Comité Colbert, told WWD. “We have been very interested in a long time about the cultural policy of the UAE and particularly Abu Dhabi. Both the tangible heritage with all the [new] museums, including the Louvre, but also their concern and policy toward celebrating their intangible heritage.”
The series of special events will include the “10,000 Years of Luxury” exhibition at the Louvre Abu Dhabi. It will feature 350 objects spanning fashion, jewelry, art, furniture and design that demonstrate how luxury has been interpreted by diverse cultures throughout history. Fashion houses Christian Dior, Chanel, Cartier and Hermès are among the many luxury brands that will be showcased.
The monthlong celebration will also plug into retail, with 26 Colbert member fashion houses creating window displays and events at their boutiques in Galleria Al Maryah Island, a luxury shopping mall. “We are focusing on heritage, but also on showing the innovation and creativity of the houses,” said Ponsolle des Portes.
The key cultural exchange element of the festival will take place at Abu Dhabi’s historic Qasr Al Hosn, or House of Artisans, where French and Emirati craftspeople will hold cross-cultural craft demonstrations.
“These are demonstrations of the savoir-faire of the UAE and France with women artists. This is something we also do in France, programs about craftsmanship and that inform younger generations,” explained Ponsolle des Portes. “We thought this was ground for a very fruitful collaboration here as well.”
Planned activities include Christian Dior showcasing the making of the Lady Dior handbag; Emirati artisans demonstrating the practice of Talli handicraft; Guerlain’s “table ladies” showing the art of sealing and finishing fragrance bottles, and Hermès demonstrating their master saddle-making skills alongside Emirati camel leather craftsmen. There will also be master classes by embroiderers from Lesage and Emirati Sadu weavers.
Ponsolle des Portes emphasized the historic nature of the event in Abu Dhabi, saying such a collective approach with different Colbert members across different business sectors teaming to represent their shared values and French style is difficult to come by now in the industry. “This is a very unique thing that France is achieving. They are indeed competitors but they wish to work together for the image of our country,” she said.
The event, officially titled “Flânerie Colbert Abu Dhabi, French Luxury in the 21st Century,” will be inaugurated on Nov. 12, with a large delegation of presidents and ceo’s of Colbert houses traveling to Abu Dhabi to attend the opening. The association’s general assembly will be held during the trip at Sorbonne Abu Dhabi, an associate member.