Abu Dhabi to explore French luxury in inaugural cross-cultural programme with Comite Colbert

A series of initiatives across the capital will shed light on the connections between French luxury, culture and contemporary art

FILE PHOTO: Visitors look at the dome hall design of the Louvre Abu Dhabi Museum in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, December 25, 2018. Picture taken December 25, 2018. REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed/File Photo
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Cross-cultural dialogue between France and the UAE is at the heart of a new collaboration between Abu Dhabi and the Comite Colbert, an association of 84 French luxury houses and 16 cultural institutions founded in 1954.

From Tuesday, November 12 to Thursday, December 14, Comite Colbert will present Flanerie Colbert Abu Dhabi, French Luxury in the 21st Century – a series of initiatives that will explore 21st century French luxury and culture, as well as its growing connections to Emirati culture.

Supported by the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi), the events will take place across the city, specifically at the House of Artisans at Al Hosn, The Galleria Mall on Al Maryah Island, Abu Dhabi Art fair and Louvre Abu Dhabi, which will present its 10,000 Years of Luxury exhibition on Wednesday, October 30.

The museum’s show, which explores the ways luxury has been translated and adapted across cultures, will run until February 15, 2020, will feature 350 objects from the realms of fashion, jewellery, art, furniture and design, including golden furniture and virtuoso objects from Christian Dior, Chanel, Cartier and Hermes.

10,000 Years of Luxury will also consider the ways that luxury and excess have impacted society, as well the role of women in propagating, moderating or defining trends within these industries.

Flanerie Colbert Abu Dhabi will complement the exhibition with cross-cultural craft demonstrations, workshops and talks at Al Hosn’s House of Artisans from Tuesday, November 12 until Thursday, November 28. The programme will include collaborative conversations on elements of Emirati heritage such as Al Sadu, Bisht, Calligraphy, Gahwa, Khoos, Talli or Khanjar-making and French craft such as embroidery, silversmithing and leather goods.

"The building of cultural bridges is a fundamental aspect of DCT Abu Dhabi's mandate, as we reflect the openness of wider Emirati society, and its enthusiasm for embracing other cultures, and for sharing Emirati culture with the world," said Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of DCT Abu Dhabi in a statement. "Flâanerie Colbert Abu Dhabi represents the first time the combined French luxury brands have collaborated on such an endeavour, and as such this is a seminal moment for the emirate and for the region."

Christian Dior will reveal details on the making of its iconic Lady Dior handbag, while Guerlain and a practitioner of Talli handicraft will present a talk on the art of sealing and finishing fragrance bottles. In other dialogues with Emirati artisans, Hermès will focus on leather and saddle-making skills; Hotel le Bristol on chocolate-making; Louis Vuitton on painting techniques. Demonstrations and master classes will also be given by two embroiderers from Lesage (Chanel) and by expert Sadu weavers.

On November 13, experts Vincent Cochet, chief curator at Chateau de Fontainebleau, and Amel Chabbi, conservation manager in the Historic Environment Department at DCT Abu Dhabi, will offer insight on the restoration of the Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Theatre.

From November 12, there will be new displays and presentations throughout The Galleria Mall on Al Maryah Island, where a number of French luxury houses have retail stores. Visitors will be able to see creative window displays at 26 Colbert houses, including Boucheron, Ercuis, Cartier, Christofle, Louis Vuitton, Van Cleef & Arpels and Chloe to name a few.

During Abu Dhabi Art, the city’s annual art fair, Colbert members will discuss the role of French luxury in the world of contemporary art, and the many ways in which luxury houses have supported and collaborated with artists. This topic will be covered in two panel discussions on November 20 and 23, featuring speakers such as Grazia Quaroni from Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain, Alexandre Boquel from Christian Dior Couture, Marion Laporte from Centre Pompidou, Annick de Chaunac and Guillaume Désanges from the Fondation d’Entreprise Hermes and Thierry Sarmant from Mobilier National, Manufacture des Gobelins.