Christian Dior's haute couture circus is coming to town. At 8pm this evening, Dubai will celebrate another world first, when it becomes the only city in the Middle East to have ever played host to a haute couture show.
Tonight will be the second unveiling of Christian Dior's spring 2019 haute couture collection, which was first presented in a circus-themed extravaganza in Paris in January.
Not only is the entire show being transported to our shores, an additional 15 pieces have been created especially to mark the occasion.
One entire floor of a swanky Dubai hotel has been given over to the preparations for this evening. I was fortunate to be invited in to witness the pre-show preparations (to peer behind the curtain, so to speak) and saw first-hand the small army of people it takes to put on an a show of this magnitude. I witnessed the fittings, where the looks are tried on the models to ensure the perfect fit.
In one corner of the vast main room given over to the team, each model was manouevered into a priceless look. An entire wall was lined with shelves featuring shimmering head caps and veils, while countless sparkling shoes hung in clear bags on a rail, each one assigned to a specific model.
A full third of the hall was taken over by the clothes rails – eight rows, each five rails deep – on which the looks hung, each crafted by hand and marked with a number and a sketch. Down the corridor, one room was filled entirely with sewing machines for last minute alterations.
Allowed to wander between the rails and see these exquisite masterpieces up close, the level of work was breathtaking. One dress from the original show that looked as it were knitted from wool turned out, on closer inspection, to have been knitted from dipped dyed net. Another piece that I had thought had words printed on the bodice in fact has letters that are hand stitched.
Amid the bustle of models, dressers and seamstresses, I found Stephen Jones, the milliner behind all of Dior’s headpieces. Having made the glittering fitted skull caps for the original show, he was here to supervise fittings for the new pieces.
Tall, willowy girls dressed in poetic gowns stand awkwardly around waiting for their turn to walk out in front of the woman who conjured the whole thing into being – Christian Dior’s creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri.
Despite the swirl of activity in the room, Chiuri is relaxed and composed. Sitting at the far end of the room, Chiuri looks like she does not have a worry in the world. As her team fuss about the models, scurrying back and forth with shoes and headpieces, Chiuri and I sit talking.
Of her decision to bring her show to Dubai, she tells me: "We wanted to show somewhere we had never been before. We made a special collection, because every place you do this in some way influences your creations. This city is so hot, and there is the sun, so we can imagine a collection where the spirit is more playful.”