VMAN Exclusive: Inside Giorgio Armani’s Dubai Experience ‘One Night Only’
A closer look at one of the most luxurious nights in fashion with Fashion Director Gro Curtis
First of all Giorgio Armani’s One Night Only is a unique traveling event that brings the house of Armani with its codes and values all around the world. So far seven major cities have been graced with One Night Only events and it all started with London in 2006. After the UK capital event traveled to Tokyo, Beijing, Rome, New York, and Paris! Originally One Night Only Dubai was planned for 2020. to coincide with the 10th anniversary of Armani Hotel Dubai opening but the Covid-19 pandemic stopped these plans. Mr. Armani is a determined genius so as soon as the vaccination plan rolled out on the world stage it was finally time to relaunch the postponed event.
Giorgio Armani with all his brands and extensions believes in trying to achieve maximum level of perfection when it comes to the “Armani experience”. No wonder every single detail: from the greeting card to beach towel was thought through with impeccable precision. For example, Mr. Armani is not going to invite you to the beach without a chic and practical beach bag. More on the beach later!
Armani Hotel Dubai is situated in the Burj Khalifa building which is the tallest structure and building in the world. It was designed by the same team who worked on One World Trade Center here in New York. It provides you with an amazing view of The Dubai Fountain which is a choreographed fountain system located on the 12 hectares of manmade Burj Khalifa lake. It brings a touch of home, and by home I mean U.S. since it was designed by the company responsible for Bellagio Hotel lake in Las Vegas.
If you never been to Dubai you must know that they love to be number one in the world when it comes to size. Another case in point? The Dubai Mall. And trust me when I say it’s not your usual mall. Even though it’s worth mentioning that at this point Dubai Mall is no longer the largest in the world since the one in Iran took the coveted top spot. Nevertheless, it’s an impressive experience. It includes over 1,200 shops, over 120 restaurants, and cafes, an aquarium and an underwater zoo with more than 300 species of marine animals and the list goes on & on. Of course, Dubai mall is also a fashion capital when it comes to housing the most celebrated designers in the world. Armani included.
Our first stop at The Dubai Mall was a pop-up dedicated to a special collection of unique Armani accessories exclusively designed for the Middle Eastern market. Some of the items include iconic and minimalistic bags that are a staple of the house.
Gastro scene in Dubai is phenomenal and it includes all the world cuisines you can imagine. Just the Armani Hotel Dubai offers a staggering collection of six restaurants. From Italian to Japanese, kosher, and Indian just to name a few. While burrata in Italy is simply burrata; burrata in Dubai is covered with gold. What many of us in the West can easily label as excess it’s simply part of Emirates culture.
While we were all enjoying Dubai; Mr. Armani himself was inspecting all the little but crucial details for the upcoming runway show. Even at 9 PM while we were all having dinner he was checking Armani Pavilion hawk-eyed. You can’t help but admire his dedication and hard work.
One of the many highlights was our desert trip where all of us friends of the house gathered to watch breathtaking sunset and enjoy true, traditional cuisine. For this occasion, Armani organized a fleet of vintage Land Rover jeeps.
And of course for this special occasion, they were customized with the Giorgio Armani logo. I never thought desert safari would be my thing since I’m not a fan of sand or sun but this was one of my personal highlights.
There is something incredibly calming when you are surrounded by the vastness of the desert in the sunset. Even us, chatty fashion people took a minute of silence to absorb the beauty we were witnessing.
After enjoying the sunset dinner organized in Bedouin tents with candles and fire torches as our only light. The menu was simply stunning, offering us the best from this beautiful culture. For starters we enjoyed in houmous, sambousek and kibbeh while for main courses we were served with ouzi (spiced lamb), harees (chicken with wheat grains, salt, ghee and spices) and sheesh tawouk (grilled cubes of marinated chicken breast with garlic, lemon, yoghurt and Arabic spices).
For day two of our Armani adventure in Dubai we went to a pop-up beach concept by Armani/Spiaggia, where we enjoyed the lukewarm Arabian sea but also traditional pool fun planned in detail by the amazing Armani team. Let me tell you— I’ve been around the world when it comes to beaches but Armani/Spiaggia tops it all.
What do you eat at Armani/Spiaggia? Spaghetti al pomodoro, of course! And what do you drink with spaghetti? The lovely Fran Ragazzi from Vogue Italia told me it’s not time for my favorite Aperol Spritz but rather a perfect moment for Bira Moretti!
The Armani red carpet before the show is always an affair to remember in Hollywood style. For this unique occasion celebrities such as Sharon Stone, Clive Owen, Lily James, and Taylor Hill showed up to support Mr. Armani. One of my personal favorites was Eric Nam who is a Korean-born American singer and one of the kindest guys I’ve recently met.
Fashion show was held beneath the majestic Burjf Khalifa in a specially constructed Armani Pavilion.
It’s extremely important to know that One Night Only Dubai has been conceived to minimize the impact on the environment in accordance with ISO 20121. The Armani Group planned not to use single-use plastic, to avoid food waste, to favor the rental of equipment and set-up material, to encourage the reuse and recycling of materials, to promote separate waste collection and the use of hybrid or electric cars and LED lighting. Suppliers were also required to comply with specific social and environmental clauses.
The Grand Armani show consisted of Giorgio Armani Men’s and Women’s Spring/Summer 2022 runway show and a selection of Armani Prive Haute Couture looks from Fall/Winter 2021/22 collection. Emphasis was on classic Armani tailoring and ageless looks that have nothing to do with trends since they rather follow imposing Armani philosophy of eternal minimalism done in the most exquisite, couture technique.
Finale of the Armani show is always a joyful sensation where all of us stand up and give our host well-deserved standing ovations. For years any type of smiling model on the runway was a huge “no, no” as it was considered “old school” or even “tacky”. Season after season models were told to behave almost like robots marching the runway. That was never the case with Armani where humanity and clothes always take prime spots. No wonder that after the experience with horrific pandemic designers are now trying their best to make models smile and enjoy the show.
Mr. Armani walked the whole length of the runway to properly greet his guests. Special treatment was given to the legendary Sharon Stone who showed up dressed in a couture version of an iconic Armani t-shirt with a printed face of the man himself.
Our surprise after-party host was one and only Chris Martin who performed barefoot while singing his biggest hits. My heart went to his evergreen “Yellow”. No need to mention that over 400 guests were deliriously happy with Mr. Martin performing.
To finally close the fairytale of adventures we went to Armani Prive night club which is also part of the omnipresent Burj Khalifa. Entering the nightclub for the first time in more than 18 months for all of us was almost an out-of-body experience. Of course, entering Dubai and participating in festivities was impossible without strict control and a series of Covid-19 tests for all of us. There was certainly something magical in seeing some of my favorite people in business getting relaxed and forgetting just for a minute that we still have to find our way to survive in the reality of a world stricken by the pandemic.