Fashion designer hotels


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Viability's Guy Wilkinson writes a monthly column for Hotelier Middle East Magazine. This article originally appeared in December 2010.
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Fashion designer hotels

  1. 1. 18COMMENT Fashion designer hotels Viability director Guy Wilkinson questions whether the Middle East is ready for the Western enslaught of fashion-forward hotels and asks if local residents will care enough to pay them a visit classic — and relatively timeless — black suits and dresses, then this is probably the right fashion brand for us to start with. The hotel itself to me seems to offer such pristine clean lines as to lack some personality, but that’s just me. I am surely a Philis- tine when it comes to fashion. I just think that the majority of people who will appreciate the full design and lifestyle implications of the Armani hotel in Dubai will be for- eign guests and not local nationals COLUMNIST or resident expats. And even then, I wonder if Tom Cruise is truly both- re we cool, or what? I mean, ered whether he gets to stay at the A now that we have the Ar- mani hotel in Dubai, the city — and by association, the rest of the Middle East — is now officially hip, man! Apparently Giorgio Armani recently launched the Armani hotel in Dubai — but will local residents be regular guests there? I WONDER IF TOM CRUISE IS TRULY Armani or the Hilton, as long as the bed is comfy, the food is good and he can escape to a little privacy. In short, I believe that many, if not most, Gulf residents are prob- Tom Cruise and the rest of the cast BOTHERED WHETHER HE GETS TO STAY AT ably quite baffled by international of Mission Impossible 4 have been fashion. Therefore, we would pos- staying there during shooting (the THE ARMANI OR THE HILTON, AS LONG AS sibly also be confused by some of the film crew, who presumably are less THE BED IS COMFY, THE FOOD IS GOOD AND other fashion designer hotels that fashion-conscious, were relegated HE CAN ESCAPE TO A LITTLE PRIVACY have been mushrooming around to the nearby Dusit Dubai — in my the world, which in reality are seek- view, an equally iconic building, ing ‘sophisticates’ and not country although not quite as tall). bumpkins as guests. Would we go It’s this kind of talk, as though we or jallabiyas, demanding processed that they are a relatively rare breed. wild upon seeing the zebra-striped were all Americans and routinely cheese, or delighted ladies in abayas While fashions change on a quar- carpet at Ralph Lauren’s Pineapple shopped on Rodeo Drive in Hol- convinced of the merits of biologi- terly basis in the West, thus keeping House at the Round Hill Hotel in lywood, which somehow seems out cal washing powder. In our shop- the runways filled with emaciated Jamaica? Would we ‘get’ the kitsch of place in the GCC. I guess the fact ping malls from Dubai to Kuwait models wearing bizarre clothes room themes of Diesel’s Pelican is that, far from being global trav- and Riyadh to Cairo, you will find that few people would be seen Hotel in Miami? Would we feel hip ellers, we are more likely to be telly all the great Western brands of fash- dead wearing in any normal situ- at Christian Lacroix’s Hotel du Petit addicts who while away our spare ion. And yet the irony is that this is ation, in the Middle East, I would Moulin in Paris (by the way, did you time glued to the E! channel or read- one of the few regions in the world dare to suggest that we are only hear that he was bankrupt)? Would ing Hello magazine, the result being in which the local population still just getting to grips with the differ- we resent paying more to stay in Sal- that we know more about the Holly- favours national dress, which is ences that occurred between one vatore Ferragamo’s Gallery Hotel wood stars than about we do about defined not by the whims of interna- fashion decade and another. How Art in Florence (where the brochure our own neighbours. tional fashion, but by the solid prin- could lapel widths or hem lengths instructs: “Contemplate the art- The US-centric media is also full ciple of all Muslims being the same be important to us, when the key works. Dislike them, Adore them. of advertising geared to make us in the eyes of Allah. reference points are timeless gar- That’s the point”)? Sorry?! I’m not want Western products. Although I I am happy to believe that there ments like the dishdasha, the abaya, sure we would be up to it. HME do not speak Arabic, I can see that is a top stratum of the Gulf popula- the sari, the kurta, or the shalwar such companies as Unilever and tion which is both wealthy and well- qameez (that’s the national dress of Procter & Gamble simply have travelled enough to be connoisseurs Pakistan, to you and me)? their global advertising campaigns of international fashion (including This brings me back to the translated — both linguistically international designer hotels), and Armani hotel. Are we in the Gulf Guy Wilkinson is a director of Viability, a and culturally — for their target whose members blend seamlessly ready for all that it represents? Well, hospitality and property consulting firm in Dubai. markets in our region. Thus, we see into jet-set gatherings in London, in the sense that Armani’s fashion For more information, e-mail: delirious men in dishdashas, thobes Paris or Monaco — but I suggest specialities (as far as I know) are December 2010 • Hotelier Middle East