What the Stylist–cum–Jewel Thief Derek Khan Taught Us About Dubai

Meet Derek Khan. Photo: nytimes.com

Derek Khan is a stylist who became famous in the nineties for stripping hip-hop stars like Lauryn Hill and Salt-n-Pepa of their streetwear and dressing them instead in stuff by Yves Saint Laurent and Chanel. Naturally, he borrowed things, like jewelry, for them to wear. But he wanted extra cash to take them, entourages in tow, to fancy dinners drenched in fine Champagne. So rather than, say, taking on another client or something similarly legal, he sold the borrowed jewels. And, naturally, Captain Obvious got caught and went to prison where no Lauryn Hills or Salt-n-Pepas came to visit him, and so he was resigned to simply read about them in Vogue. This made him very sad.

When he got out of prison, he was determined to attain fame again. But he couldn't do it in the good ol' USA because his green card was revoked, and he was deported to his native Trinidad, where it was very hot and humid. This made him very sad. Where, oh where, would his star shine again? Dubai, of course! The city "so preoccupied with its future that no one would be interested in his past." Over there, even though everyone knows his middle name is Sticky Fingers, he's on the cover of celebrity gossip magazines like OK! Middle East; they proclaim Khan's arrival validates Dubai as a premier stylish destination. Never mind that Roberto Cavalli is launching his nightclub there or that every big designer's got a new store there — it's the ex–jewel thief and stylist that really confirms the place's status. Khan also appears on satellite TV and designs a line of — get this — jewelry.

We haven't yet made it over to Dubai, but we're certainly curious about the place, especially since we read tales of its bustling luxury market in the papers every day. Now we know that it's about as insecure as the token rich girl in high school, especially if it's getting its reassurance from a guy like Khan. Sounds magical.

A Jewel Thief’s Audacious Comeback [NYT]