Tilda Swinton in front of the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. She's giving it a run for its money, no? All photos courtesy of Chanel.Then after the show, it's the after party, and when the show in question is Chanel's Cruise 2015 presentation on a manmade island in Dubai, that after party is going to be a knockout. And so it was. Post-runway show, Karl Lagerfeld appeared onstage to wave to the crowd of 1,000 who had just witnessed his inspired take on gypset chic. Karl inspires a kind of mania in people—at a recent beauty event in Paris, the entire room followed him, almost subconsciously looking where he looked, laughing as he laughed, only breaking the rhythm to snap frantic pics of his ponytail. (It was like a slo-mo choreographed dance, off by a single beat.) The Dubai crowd was infused with a similar fervour. A client in couture—eyes aflame, arms pumping like a wrestler as she clapped—practically bellowed a guttural "KARL" in the direction of the stage. Who could blame her? He has that kind of charisma. You know who else has that kind of charisma? Tilda Swinton, one of the celebrity guests at the show. I had a chance to interview her on the sand outside, as the sun was starting to set over Dubai. It was the kind of interview where you're concerned about controlling your face because you realize that you're quickly falling in love. Frankly, I was nervous to talk to Tilda. Years ago, during TIFF, a colleague had asked Tilda how she would define her career trajectory, and the actress reportedly replied, "I don't have a career. I have no idea what you're talking about. Define career." So. I was mulling over both escape routes and my definition of "fashion" when Martina Djago of ELLE Quebec and I got the nod. And, well, she was incredible. First, to look at: so tall and slender in that Chanel dress, and with perfect poreless skin. But beauty wasn't the point (Freida Pinto, another guest at the show, was beautiful, and well—), no, the point was that she was a woman in the way that all women want to be. Confident in her own skin. Smart. No attitude. All enthusiasm. "It was exactly what I hoped it would be: a Marisa Berenson mash-up," she said of the collection. "Gorgeous patterns—" and that's when my voice memo fritzed. Friends, I'm sorry. I wish I could share more about the specific delights of Tilda, but I do remember that she said her grandmother was her perennial style icon, and that she extolled the smarts of Amy Schumer, the writer and actress who penned Trainwreck, a Judd Apatow-helmed comedy which is one of Tilda's next projects, and that she used the word "feminism" easily and without apology. She was an inspiration. Then we met Dakota.
Dakota Fanning in Chanel haute couture.
Dakota's advice for living with style? "Yikes! Don't ask me," she replied, laughing. "I'm always blown away by how well other people put themselves together. I get dressed up for events like this, but really, I'm an actor—most of the time I'm on set in jeans and a T-shirt."
Janelle Monae, about an hour before she killed it onstage.Janelle Monae killing it onstage. One of the best parts of the night? Watching mega models Grace Mahary and Lindsey Wixson busting a move as Janelle covered "ABC" by the Jackson Five. Those girls can DANCE. (Earlier in the night, I saw Janelle's guitarist give Grace his "lucky pick"—a brewing love match?) Then it was back to the winding path in the sand—lit by candles blowing in the breeze—and to the abra, for the journey back across the sea to reality. After the after party, it was the hotel lobby, and then, finally, to sleep, guaranteed of the sweetest fashion dreams. READ MORE Chanel Cruise Dubai: The pre-party, the people-watching, the perfect show Chanel Spring 2014: Our top 20 runway looks Must-cilck: 20 best-dressed women of all time