Splash: A fashion revolution in Dubai?
It would have been a shame if we stood by our intuition to decline the invite to the preview of the Autumn/Winter 2010 collection of the leading local street wear retailer Splash. We finally came to our senses, and decided we just had to attend the event that tons of Dubai’s social butterflies had been talking about.
So, donning a classic LBD, we thronged to Madinat Arena along with the rest of the city’s fashionistas and wannabes.
We expected that parking would be a problem, so it was not a surprise to see guards ushering a number of cars (including ours) to the correct parking lot. Yet again, parking confusion was no ordeal compared to the literally deafening noise that welcomed us as we entered the event lobby.
There were hundreds of men and women who were dressed to the nines, shoulder-rubbing, camera-whoring and loudly chatting all at the same time. Not that we did not want to socialise but we felt really lucky that we found our way to escape such ear-splitting crowded hall, and got to be seated earlier.
Once inside the fashion arena, we had the opportunity to linger in the comfortable front-row couches, and to marvel at the well-thought-out stage design that promised an exceptional show. Over the years, Splash fashion shows have been known for their theatrical production value – kudos to the event organiser Bong Guerrero – this edition set quite another milestone.
After around an hour and forty minutes of waiting, the 20-minute runway show kicked off with blatant CNN-esque television reports coming from the TV monitors set against the industrial backdrop, announcing the ongoing street revolution created by Splash. A brilliant way to catch everyone’s attention and push those last people standing to get to their seats, we’d say. Immediately afterwards, a group of models marched military-style towards the runway square (Note: there was no catwalk set but mere empty space for models to ramp in full square), and the show of clothes officially began.
While loud rock music played on the background, models strutted wearing the typical Splash fashion pieces that will soon be available at all their stores in the Middle East. As the show continued, we were quietly thanking and commending the sartorial genius of the show’s stylists by being able to come up with acceptable ensembles, creating chic and classy takes to the not-so-attractive individual street wear items.
Yet, we saw some with great potential like the tiny red leather dress, aviator and biker jackets, camouflaged trousers, the neat-fit knitted trench, denim shirts and super cool khaki chinos. Overall, as we anticipated, the show was not able to come up with any unique trend, and just followed the global mainstream military mode and back-to-the-preppy English vogue instead.
Thunderous applause filled the fashion arena as the models did the curtain call, but we were personally torn with mixed emotions. It was amazing to witness such a dramatic interpretation of street wear clothing – no doubt the show came about from months of rigorous planning and critical execution.
However, we were sad to realise that the whole production gimmick overshadowed what was supposed to be the star of the night: the fashion collection.
Come to think of it, the whole event should be a celebration of fashion showcased on the runway, and not a showcase of fashion and faces of the people sitting on the front row. We believe it was the latter that actually happened – the Splash fashion show was first and foremost a social event.
We’d be thinking aloud here, but to strike a balance in becoming both a social and fashion event, Splash should present a collection that would equally measure up to the kind of theatrical productions and budgets for which it had become famous.
If H&M can collaborate with big-shot designers like Jimmy Choo and Lanvin, then why can’t Splash step up and partner with homegrown Dubai talents such as Ezra Santos and Michael Cinco (both fresh from Ezra’s stint at the New York Couture Fashion Week) who we ran into at the after-party? Well, just saying.
Nonetheless, we would still visit the Splash stores, and get a second look at the collection. Who knows, the items might be more appealing at a closer and more intimate distance, right?