The 3rd annual Condé Nast International Luxury Conference themed Mindful Luxury: Navigating the Silk Routes, was held in Muscat, Oman this past weekend. I felt deeply humbled and highly privileged that a conference of this international caliber, which brings together some of the worlds top business and creative leaders under one roof was held here in Muscat, Oman. It felt surreal to be sitting almost at our backyard and to hear their stories, industry views and trend opinions. The conference that was previously held in Seoul and Florence, hosted around 500 top delegates from across the globe.
From walking in to the welcome reception hosted at the Al Husn courtyard to the first day of the conference, I was constantly star struck and having my ‘fan girl’ moments, meeting some of my greatest inspirations of the industry. From Suzy Menkes to Alber Elbaz to Elie Saab to Manish Arora to Huda Kattan, these are just to name a few from the exquisite line up of keynote speakers for the next two days.
The conference itself was held in the ballroom of Shangrilla Hotel. At the entrance of the conference was a frankincense tree over 100 years old kept for the viewing of the attendees. Frankincense is a luxury commodity, which has been traded over 5000 years in the Silk routes and Arabian Peninsula. At the entrance was also this ‘Wall of Vogue’, showcasing Vogue magazines from across the globe. At the center of this wall were copies of Vogue Arabia, the print edition that was just recently launched in March 2017.
Day 1 of the conference saw Suzy Menkes touching on the topics of discussion, which included new markets for the luxury industry, the evolution of global trade routes and the ongoing, intertwined multi directional relationship between technology and fashion. Elie Saab blew our minds away with a peek into his fashion house with behind the scenes of the making of his ultra glamorous and highly expensive haute couture gowns. The intricate hand works, the beading techniques, the jewel encrusted silhouettes and the likes. But what struck a cord was the story of an 18 year old boy who came from humble beginnings, set up his label in a war torn Beirut and then moved onto Paris to fulfill his dream and establish this internationally acknowledged Fashion house.
From the moment I saw Alber Elbaz all I wanted to do was give him a tight hug. Not only does he look like this super cuddly teddy bear, but he is also one the sweetest people to talk to. He was quite philosophical when he spoke about his departure from Lanvin. His business partner Frédéric Malle and he have launched their perfume ‘Superstition’, ‘the scent from a dress’ to allow people to reminisce on moments when they wore some of their favorite outfits. He mentioned how in Fashion people are always fearful and lacking joy whereas perfumes are to invoke memories, bring joy and to feel loved.
Banada Tewari, editor at large of Vogue India got us all choking with her emotional talk on ‘Dandi to Gandhi’. “For Mahatma Gandhi clothing was an integral part in his quest for finding inner truth. It was in robing and disrobing that he developedpractices and principles.|” said Bandana. She mentioned there were over 11 million hand craftsmen both men and women along the silk routes and how big luxury brands should utilize their skills and craftsmanship to create a harmony between the designer, producer and consumer in a Gandhian way.
I could go on and on about the various speakers and the specific areas that touched me. Mostly I was floored by how approachable many of these speakers were. Most of them talked on being 'AUTHENTIC' and true to your heart which is something that I follow religiously. I truly believe that its a cut throat industry where each one is to themselves. If you have the right contacts and access to money, then you are set. However in the midst this rat race, you do find a few inspirational stories and I would concur that one has to dream big, strive hard and hope for the right opportunities to come your way. Being mindful of what touches your heart and inspires others along the way, is definitely one step in the right direction.
In the next post I shall write about what HH Dina Aljuhani Abdulaziz, Editor in Chief of Vogue Arabia and Amal Al Raisi had to say about our region and its contribution towards fashion. I will also be putting up a separate post on all the outfits I wore for the duration of the conference. So stay tuned and until then,