Wild For The Night in Dubai With Gucci (and A$ap Rocky)
After a spending a few hours in Dubai, your eyes accumulate to its sleek, Metropolis-like skyline overflowing with some of the most fascinating contemporary architecture in the world. Actually, everything about Dubai is fascinating – the high-contrasting cultural discourse between the West and East, an impressive dedication to excess in every possible way, the air-conditioning that follows wherever you go… In many ways, that impressive architecture reflects the values behind the largest city of The United Arab Emirates. But that’s the Dubai as most know it. Just a 10-minute drive South-East from the Dubai Mall and Burj Khalifa (also known as the tallest building on Earth), the Design District (d3) is breathing some fresh air into the city.
Actually, the air there is still warm and dry, but in terms of culture, this new-built area feels like a complete opposite from the high-intensity of the flashing skyscrapers and audio-synced water fountains. As soon as you cross the bridge, the high skyscrapers disappear in favour of few-story buildings, and instead of the high-gloss steel and glass, there’s concrete and colour. The concept for the area was first conceived in 2013 and despite still having a long way to go before being finished, the Design District has a completely different take on luxury. And taking over a part of the District over the next couple of days is a creative collective embodying that new kind of luxe. Self-described as the “the region’s footwear, fashion and lifestyle fair,” Sole DXB is a multi-day festival dedicated to pushing Dubai’s culture into a streetwear direction. Launched by four guys (two of which are Dubai-born), the festival emerged eight years ago out of a party night, in an attempt to initiate the growing street culture conversation in Dubai. And from 890 people at an underground party with some sneaker dealers, the event has now grown into one the biggest moment in Dubai’s cultural calendar, with 30k visitors and tens of global brands creating their own stands and pop-up shops inside the space. It’s the region’s only streetwear platform, every aspect of it dedicated to a segment of the cultural shift that’s happening globally right now. With four main pillars – fashion, music, art and basketball, the event blends the idea of experiential retail and concert, creating a totally unique approach to this lifestyle.
“It was just an experiment, really. We had all moved here from somewhere else and we wanted to see if there were others that were like us. Once we saw the initial response and the number of heads that came through the door, we knew this is what we wanted to do,” said Hussain Moloobhoy, one of the founders of Sole DXB. For this year’s edition (going from December 6th to 8th), the beats are coming from the likes of Dev Hynes aka Blood Orange, Lion Babe, Abra, Roxanne Shanté and others. “We’ll never book anyone whose music we wouldn’t list to ourselves or whose work we don’t respect. For us it’s about booking the acts that others in the region wouldn’t book, because we’re not driven by ticket sales,” Joshua Cox, the second founder told us during the run-through of the festival a day before its opening.
And to coincide with the Sole DXB 2018, Gucci brought out their favourite people from all over the world (that’s us too) in order to throw one of their secret global parties in the Design District venue. After Budapest and Moscow, last night it was Dubai’s turn to party – the booming luxury market with this new streetwear approach that feels totally in-tune with the Gucci conversation. Set on the day before the big opening of the festival, Gucci’s party started inside their Dubai Mall flagship where all invitees had to pick-up their branded wristbands which served as your pass to get into the actual party. In a brief cameo towards the end of the pre-drinks, the dreamboat that is A$ap Rocky popped out of the backstage (stores also have a backstage) dressed in his usual streetwear uniform with a silk Gucci scarf wrapped around the head, in style of an Eastern European grandma. We would be lying if we said some sneaky selfies weren’t taken. But you know – when in Dubai… be shameless. The in-store crowds were wearing the best of last season’s Gucci – Dear Ribane, a South African creative collective, particularly stood out both for their moves, as well as their unapologetically fabulous style that was brightening up the room – both literally and metaphorically. With this year’s Sole DXB being dedicated to the creatives of the Eastern region (particularly South Africa), they were part of a bigger group that was here to bring in the vibes.
Oh, but this was only the beginning. The Gucci party continued as we headed to the open-air venue of the Sole DXB. With most of the construction of the festival still in the works, walking into it felt like sneaking into a museum after working hours – and just like in Night at the Museum, a lot went down inside. After an intro of classic R&B and soul tunes, it was time for a secret performance by Mister A$ap Rocky himself (now dressed in a Gucci-logoed poncho) with a special duet cameo courtesy of Dev Hynes (yes, we bloomed) in an intimate setting of the venue’s lounge. As Rocky mounted the DJ booth during Fukk Sleep, in a peak moment from his last song in the set, the atmosphere was buzzing. Literally – a full-blown mosh pit emerged in the crowd. “This was f*cking fun,” A$ap Rocky said as he left, visibly happy with the energy and the amount of Gucci-dressed crowds cheering him on. The night went on until early hours, 1990s hip-hop blasting from the speakers. Always the last ones to leave, we happily went to the unofficial after-party Soon the sun came out, those same skyscrapers again glistening in the light and the temperature rising yet again. Our Gucci experience may have come to an end, but in Dubai – the party is just getting started…
The Sole DXB 2018 is taking place in Dubai’s Design District from December 6th to 8th. Find tickets here. Watch our Dubai experience with Gucci via Instagram Story Highlights at @10magazine.
Dev Hynes in Gucci
Dear Ribane in Gucci