Egypt bets on fashion and culture to sell its image

From the temples of Luxor to the Pyramids of Giza, mythical places in ancient Egypt lend their decoration to concerts, parades or exhibitions, making heritage a showcase to renew the country’s image and attract luxury brands.

>> Dior parade at the foot of the Pyramids, the first in Egypt

Men’s fashion show for the French haute couture house Dior at the foot of the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt.
Photo: AFP/VNA/CVN

At the beginning of December, Dior presented its men’s collection at the foot of the pyramids, on the outskirts of Cairo, during its first show in Egypt. In October, the Hatshepsout temple, in Luxor, in the South, had hosted the Italian Stefano Ricci’s parade.

Dior CEO Pietro Beccari explained that the French haute couture house chose the configuration of the pyramids because they are much more “than just a background”, drawing inspiration from ancient Egyptian astrology for this collection called “Celestial”.

“This will encourage other brands and international cultural players to come”assures the art historian Bahia Shehab, stressing that Egypt relies on “culture for its image”.

Already in 2021, the Egypt of the pharaohs invaded the screens around the world with the Parade of the Mummies, a spectacular parade of 22 royal mummies through Cairo.

The event was orchestrated by President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, determined to revive tourism, which accounts for 10% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and employs two million people, but has been undermined by ten years of protests, economic upheavals and then COVID-19

Opening to modern culture through its heritage, Egypt has also attracted the American hip-hop group the Black Eyed Peas, who performed at the Pyramids of Giza, while Frenchman JR exhibited his photos there.

For fashion photographer Mohsen Othman, “These types of events are vital”because a big house like Dior comes with a “big budget”part of which goes to local talent he partners with for the occasion.

Iman Eldeeb, whose agency featured two Egyptian models in early December, welcomed this “long-awaited step for the fashion world in Egypt”.

French couturier Balmain has already presented a bustier by Egyptian brand Okhtein at Paris Fashion Week, and Vogue Italia presented Egyptian creations at Milan Fashion Week.

But not all the houses are ready to be exported because if Egypt “It has a huge pool of young creators, without professional training it is difficult to turn this creativity into a product”says Ingy Ismail, whose agency Flare advises luxury brands.

Nonetheless, “In luxury clothing and jewelry, we have gone from less than a hundred Egyptian brands to more than 1,000 today”grade Mto me Ismail.

The impetus came in 2016, in the midst of the economic crisis: in one day, the Egyptian pound lost 50% of its value and deprived the country of imports.

A local market then developed, explains Mr.to me Ismail, because “the richest 1% is enough to create demand” in a country with $86,000 million dollars, according to Credit Suisse.

Fashion show by Italian designer Stefano Ricci at the Temple of Hatshepsut in Luxor, south of Cairo.
Photo: AFP/VNA/CVN

In the posh Cairo suburbs where they live, new shopping malls have been built. “to the standards of international luxury brands”She continues.

“Art and Heritage”

However, the players in the sector denounce the bureaucracy of customs and visa services, as many obstacles for companies wishing to establish themselves in Egypt.

“The legislative framework is complicated”admits Nadine Abdel Ghaffar, whose Art d’Egypte agency organizes an exhibition of contemporary art at the Pyramids every year.

But now, she says, “A big step was taken when the government authorized Art d’Egypte and Dior to organize events at the foot of the pyramids”.

For her, Cairo has every interest in this “fusion between art and heritage, contemporary and ancient”Why this “promotes the culture of the country”.

METERto me Abdel Ghaffar advocates that the authorities create a unit dedicated to the organization of parades, exhibitions, concerts or filming.

“We can no longer count the number of international productions that have fallen to Morocco, Jordan or even Saudi Arabia” lack of permits to film in Egypt, explains Ms. Shehab.

The latest Hollywood blockbuster about the Egypt of the pharaohs, the series marvel moon knightthus he had to reconstitute Cairo in… Budapest.

AFP/VNA/CVN

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