Tales of the Nile: Behind the scenes of Luxury magazine's December fashion shoot

Ancient cultures offer a backdrop to today's brightest fashions for the latest issue's Grassroots theme

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For December's Grassroots issue, Luxury travelled to the city of Aswan in Egypt to celebrate the trio of Nubian, modern and Ancient Egyptian cultures that co-exist on the banks of the River Nile.

Taking ''grassroots'' in this instance to mean the ancient history that links us all, where better to highlight the rich colours of today's dresses, body suits and separates than the seat of not one, but two ancient civilisations, that still hold relevance today?

Scroll through the gallery above for more pictures from the photoshoot

With the Pharaonic civilisation a cornerstone of world history, it was only fitting that the Temple of Philae became the backdrop for our cover, with the ancient, carved walls the perfect foil for a pink dress by Cecilie Bahnsen and red boots by Louis Vuitton. Captured by the photographer Noemi Otillia Szabo, the cover was shot at dawn with just a few tourists and temple cats for company, and the dramatic walls as beautiful today as when they were built more than 2,000 years ago.

Model Mei poses outside a hand painted Nubian home. Photo: Noemi Otillia Szabo

Set on its own island, the temple also highlighted a dramatic sequined dress by Givenchy, as our model Mei stood on the huge boulders that make up the many islands.

Elsewhere, the hand painted homes of the Nubian people provided the backdrop for names such as Del Core and Balenciaga, while a flowered look by Dolce & Gabbana stood in contrast to an all-white doorway with a passing camel in elaborate headdress adding a touch of local flavour.

As descendants of an ancient African people that once lived in the Nile valley — regarded as one of the earliest cradles of civilisation — the Nubians have a long and unique history. Now settled across Upper Egypt and Sudan, they retain their own language and identity, such as regarding Nile crocodiles as sacred, and brightly decorating their homes.

Another Nubian village — this time left in natural sand hues — showed off the feathers of Taller Marmo, rich purple by Erdem and sequins by Bottega Veneta. Mei's unique beauty was highlighted by the make-up skills of Carolyn Gallyer, who swept a subtle smudge of earthy tones across the eyes, to echo the surroundings.

A traditional Egyptian sailing boat — a falucca — took the team out on to the Nile where a burnt orange dress by Genny, also with sequins, was shown off against the Nubian shoreline.

The fashion shoot was created in two adventure-filled days, travelling by local bus, pick-up truck and countless boats, and aided in no small part by the kindness of the people we encountered. Offering help, tea and the famous Egyptian sense of humour, it was a remarkable, enriching experience.

Updated: December 19, 2022, 11:50 AM
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