With only days to go until the premiere of the musical Coco Chanel on MBC's paid subscription service Shahid VIP, its Egyptian star Sherihan has been posting photos to give viewers a taste of what it will be like.
In a real-life tale of rags to riches, the musical will tell the story of how Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel rose from an orphanage to become one of the most influential designers of the 20th century.
Actress, dancer and singer Sherihan is making her big stage return to much acclaim, after a nearly two-decade hiatus.
Scheduled to be broadcast on Tuesday, to coincide with the start of Eid Al Adha, the lavish musical production is the culmination of months of work by director Hadi El Bagoury, choreographer Hani Abaza and music distributor Fahd.
Behind the scenes, there are countless people helping to bring the project to life, including costume designer Reem El Adl, one of the team responsible for creating the clothes for both the dancers and actors, and Sherihan herself.
Looks she had a hand in creating include a circa 1910 dress of pale pink lace and pintucks, with a velvet bow, and worn with Chanel’s trademark pearls.
She's also fashioned a more masculine look out of a shirt and trousers, with a bow tie left hanging open at the neck, while another outfit is a severe black tweed jacket and skirt, the austerity of which is broken with a simple ruff of chiffon at the neck and cuff, and pearl buttons. Sherihan wears it with Chanel's signature pulled-back hairstyle of the designer's later years.
For El Adl and her teammates, the pressure was on to create looks that not only remained true to Chanel, but also allowed the actors to move without restriction. For example, one dress Sherihan wears had to allow her to be lifted high above the stage. For the costume designers, this meant cutting the costume to disguise the integrated safety harness needed to execute the stunt.
“For me, the musical play was a very interesting experience that gave me the chance to learn a lot, especially through the advice I received from Sherihan,” El Adl said.
In another scene, we see Sherihan wearing a black and white beaded gown, in front of the famous spiral staircase in the Chanel atelier at 31 rue Cambon, Paris. While the dress may not be very Chanel, the staircase is part of folklore. In reality, Chanel had it lined with mirrors so she could gauge an audience's reaction to her collections, while remaining hidden upstairs.
Needing to balance the famously strict look of the designer and the flamboyant glamour of Egypt, was no easy task. But El Adl says Sherihan was able to help bridge this gap, thanks to her “extensive theatre experience and knowledge”, helping to guide her on "how to choose the designs, and what materials fit the best for a musical play".
“I loved the experience,” said El Adl. "I hope we work together again in the future.”
With years of experience under her belt, El Adl has created the outfits for films including Al saffah, Clash, Mawlana, Sheikh Jackson, as well as Ahmad Abdalla’s Exterior/Night, which earned her the award for Best Costume Design at the Egyptian National Film Festival.
In what must have been a bizarre scenario, El Adl competed against herself for the award, as another film she worked on, El Deif (The Guest) by El Bagoury, was nominated for the same category.
More recently, El Adl joined the jury of the Alexandria Short Film Festival, as part of her ongoing support for emerging filmmakers.