I’m touring the Mediterranean, the Middle East, and the United Kingdom (Malta, Dubai and London) as part of a combined international hair congress/study tour, and there’s a buzz here that I can’t ignore.
I travel overseas because you can’t stay at the front of the fashion pack just by opening the covers of the monthly magazines; that’s a useful start but it’s not enough. Hair is not just hair; its style and colour, and fashion, and service, and culture – the whole healthy mix of everything. And here I am in the middle of a whirling mass of it, and trying to make sense of it so I can bring home something exciting, something special.
The first stop on this trip is Dubai, a city that defies expectations; you have to come here to believe it. To begin with, it wears two faces.
The first face shows extreme wealth in its architecture and design, and it offers service that’s abundant and lavish. Whether you’re in a small shop, a department store or a hotel, everything speaks of wealth, and the services and displays are centred around their guests. The whole experience is a festival of attention to detail.
The other face, in contrast, is humble, almost plain. There is a barrenness that still delivers wealth, but this face speaks of size, movement, shape and texture; there is this untouched peacefulness. And in this barrenness I feel alive to so many new possibilities; I feel ready to design my own shapes and colours. Taking my inspiration from this simplicity rather than the high powered glamour of the Dubai we all know.
I was drawn to the many ways that the men and women of Dubai present themselves in their appearances. The wealthy show their rank in the ways they dress and with the head pieces that the men wear. As to the women, I can only imagine their hair underneath the black head-dress; probably very classic and well groomed. The women are known to be beautifully groomed under their black cloth; they wear the higher-end brands of clothing, and these are only shown at home. The rule of keeping oneself from display are strong, and only the eyes and toes show any signs of life, of colour and individuality; like so many other things in this fascinating place, their personalities are not easily revealed.
At all the conferences and congresses I’ve been to this year the main focus has been on luxury service, service that is truly deluxe; and Dubai has delivered. The lavishness and attention to detail is thrilling and it has taught me new lessons in service delivery; the experience is pure pleasure. Needless to say, this is all at a cost that few could afford on a daily base. Still, I marvelled at this commitment to excellence. The bar has been set very high.