Saturday, August 28

Haute Mimi Exclusive | The Dubai Fashion Scene

Dubai is one of the fastest emerging fashion capitals of the world, but with the likes of Paris and Milan having a much greater fashion history, many of us who haven’t been to Dubai know little about their style scene besides the glimpse revealed in the latest Sex and the City 2 film. With my aunt living in Abu Dhabi- a close by city- it seemed essential to find out from her where the best boutiques and shops in Dubai really are. My aunt travels around the world teaching English, but currently resides in Abu Dhabi, and her English rose style is often described as ‘farmer’ by her students. Her pupils are incredibly fashion conscious and even the teachers spend lunch breaks Googling designer handbags rather than planning lessons. Arriving to work in the Muslim attire of a burka or chador, the women quickly strip from their black robes to reveal beautiful and glistening dresses and sequined wedges.

Colour co-ordination is key, from the underwear to the stitching on the burka, every aesthetic detail is considered and matching. In fact, the women of Dubai will happily spend around $400 on a burka, and will usually have about ten in their wardrobes. And with more and more designers creating Muslim-inspired headwear, it is unsurprising that the likes of Gucci and Prada are now located in the fashion city of Dubai’s Emirates Tower, showing the popularity of European designer greats. The Villa Moda stocks Alexander McQueen, Miu Miu and Marini, but the best spots for fashion boutiques are the Village Mall and the Wafi Centre. The Village Mall is home to S*UCE (pronounced Sauce), a shop that is stylish from the interiors to the clothes, stocking not only designers such as Alexander Wang, 3.1 Phillip Lim, but also brand new local designers, mixing classic and contemporary chic into one store.

Alternatively, Wafi is home to A-lister favourite boutiques, including Tigerlily, a cosy style space offering the designs of Lamis Khamis and other red carpet designer loves. Valleydez is also centred in Wafi and is perfect if you love designer clothes, and even bears the name ‘Valley of Designers’. This is the ideal place for one-off designs and clothes from all over the world, adding a multi-cultural dimension to any wardrobe. Finally our last boutique for in-the-know style seekers in Marami, which supplies the work of Nicole Richie’s House of Harlow jewellery- a favourite of Jessica Alba, and the designs of ex-model , Tarina Tarantino who is becoming a hit with the fashion crowd of Dubai. Marami is located in the Dubai Mall and is great for finding individual touches to go with any outfit.
Judging by the exquisite designs walked down Dubai’s fashion week catwalk, the shopping-capital is the perfect place to have a tailor-made outfit created. The Meena Bazaar is said to be one of Dubai’s best spots for tailor-made clothes and materials, although Dream Girl, a close competitor, is the option for those of us who don’t want to spend too much money.

If you have been saving, then some of the top designers in Dubai’s stores must be visited. Showcasing her looks in their fashion week, Zeena Zaki for Julea Domani sent award-winning designs down the runway, which were inspired by the Victorian era. Old films and a pastel palette with ornate and frilly dresses won Zeena Zaki the Best Female Designer award by PrĂȘt a porter. Another stunning collection was showcased by Shrekahnth, who fused Arabian and Asian designs together to create graphic prints stimulated by the Middle Eastern icon Ibn Batutta. Aly Fawaz for Contessa Haute Couture embraced draping to form outfits in perfect geometrical and symmetrical shapes, using a palette almost good enough to eat. However, a personal favourite is Sa Saie Haute Couture, headed by a collection of high-end eveningwear and wedding gown designers, who created an eclectic mix of shape, form and colour to produce lively and show-stopping dresses. The designer dubbed the one to look out for is Khalid by Studio Khalid, who scooped up the prize of Best Emerging Talent at the Dubai Fashion Week. For those of us who like to not only to wear fashion, but read it too, the hottest fashion magazines in Dubai are Alhan! and Red hot, and don’t be surprised if top Dubai model Jhana is the face of any fashion magazine.

If after visiting the beautiful boutiques of Dubai, you want to embrace the style, henna tattoos and gold jewellery (which can be purchased at the Dubai Souk markets) are must-haves, though work colleagues advised my aunt that as sand ruins sandals, always buy plenty of cheap footwear as they will need to be replaced every couple of weeks. Therefore, it is probably essential that we leave our Manalo Blahniks at home and embrace some local sequined beauties, as although the Sex and the City girls rode on camels in heels, we should probably relent and save the heels for the designer parties, and invest in some sand proof wedges. -Isabella Stockwell

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