Egypt relies on fashion and culture to sell its image
Dthe temples of Luxor to the Pyramids of Giza, the mythical places of ancient Egypt lend their decoration to concerts, fashion shows or exhibitions, making heritage a showcase for renewing the country’s image and -attraction of luxury brands.
On Saturday, Dior presented its men’s collection at the foot of the Pyramids, at the gates of Cairo, in its first fashion show in Egypt. In October, the temple of Hatshepsut, in Luxor, in the south, hosted the parade of the Italian Stefano Ricci.
Dior CEO Pietro Beccari told AFP that the French haute couture house chose the setting of the pyramids because they were more “than just a background”, drawing on ancient Egyptian astrology for this collection called which is “Celestial”.
“It encourages other brands and international cultural players to come,” art historian Bahia Shehab told AFP, stressing that Egypt relies on “culture for its image”.
In 2021, the Egypt of the pharaohs invaded screens around the world with the Mummies Parade, a spectacular parade of 22 royal mummies through Cairo.
The event was organized by President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, who is determined to revive tourism, which represents 10% of GDP (gross domestic product) and employs two million people, but has been weakened by ten years of demonstrations, economic disturbances and after Covid.
Opening to modern culture thanks to its heritage, Egypt also attracted the American hip-hop group Black Eyed Peas, who sang at the Pyramids of Giza, while the Frenchman JR showed his pictures there.
For fashion photographer Mohsen Othman, “such events are important” because a big house like Dior comes with a “big budget”, part of which goes to the local talents with whom it partners for the occasion .
“Pool of young creators”
Iman Eldeeb, whose agency paraded two Egyptian models on Saturday, welcomed the “long-awaited move for the fashion world in Egypt”.
French couturier Balmain showed a bustier from Egyptian brand Okhtein at Paris Fashion Week, and Vogue Italy showed Egyptian creations at Milan Fashion Week.
But not all houses are ready for export because if Egypt “has a large pool of young designers, without professional training, it is difficult to transform this creativity into a product”, affirms Ingy Ismail, who Flare agency advises luxury brands.
Despite everything, “in luxury clothing and jewelry, from less than a hundred Egyptian brands have become more than 1,000 today,” said Ms. Ismail.
The strengthening came in 2016, in the midst of an economic crisis: in one day, the Egyptian pound lost 50% of its value and deprived the country of imports.
A local market was then developed, explained Ms. Ismail, because “the richest 1% is enough to create demand” in a country that has 86,000 dollar millionaires, according to Credit Suisse.
In the posh suburb of Cairo where they live, new shopping centers have been built “to the standards of international luxury brands”, he continued.
“Art and Heritage”
Players in the sector, however, denounced the bureaucracy of customs and visa services, as many obstacles for companies wanting to set up in Egypt.
“The legislative framework is complicated,” admits Nadine Abdel Ghaffar, whose Art d’Egypte agency organizes a contemporary art exhibition at the Pyramids every year.
But, he told AFP, “a big step was taken when the government allowed Art of Egypt and Dior to organize events at the foot of the Pyramids”.
For him, Cairo has every interest in “combining art and heritage, contemporary and ancient”, because it “promotes the country’s culture”.
Mrs. begs Abdel Ghaffar to the authorities to create a unit dedicated to the organization of parades, exhibitions, concerts or film production.
“We can’t count the number of international productions that fall back to Morocco, Jordan or even Saudi Arabia” because of the lack of permits to shoot in Egypt, Ms. Shehab.
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05/12/2022 05:05:24 – Cairo (AFP) – © 2022 AFP