Ditch the chain stores and stand out from the crowds with head-turning one-off pieces from the city’s best independent shops
Time Out Dubai staff
West LA Boutique The brands: House of Harlow, Winter Kate, Paper Crown, One Teaspoon Who shops here? A Dubai hipster favourite, West LA Boutique is a treasure trove tucked away in Sunset Mall. Appealing to style fans who love unique brands and quirky bohemian pieces with a bit of California cool thrown in for good measure, you’re sure to find one-off standout pieces here. Rails stuffed full of dresses, distressed jeans and slogan T-shirts greet you as soon as you walk through the door, with rows and rows of shabby-chic and beach-ready shoes lined up underneath. It’s a feast for the eyes and not a complete downer for your wallet either. Ground floor, Sunset Mall, Jumeirah Beach Road. www.westlaboutique.com (04 394 4248).
Makeup Etc The brands: Julie Hewett, SachaJuan, Armour Beauty, Neom Luxury Organics Who shops here? This boutique is an absolute must for product junkies and beauty professionals alike. It specialises in hard-to-find, high-quality beauty brands. Offering a perfectly formed selection of products in its bright and airy store on the ground floor of Palm Strip Mall, the shelves are stacked to the brim with offerings from cult Swedish hair brand SachaJuan and long-lasting make-up from Armour Beauty. The friendly staff are knowledgeable – always an added bonus. Palm Strip Mall, Jumeirah Beach Road. www.makeupetc.ae (04 345 5747).
O-Concept The brands: Forever Young, Hana Hani, Sunboo, Lady Jean Who shops here? Owned by Emirati entrepreneur Omar Bin Khediya, O-Concept is a spacious, eclectic boutique and coffee shop. With exposed ceilings and polished cement flooring, set off by classic furniture and retro detailing, Omar has managed to give the store the achingly cool feel of a New York loft space mixed in with a little bit of European minimalism. Because of the great selection of casual and evening wear and quirky accessories, the boutique attracts a good mix of local fashion fans, arty types and coffee lovers, which is down to the freshly brewed coffee served in the cafe. The pastries aren’t half bad, either. Jumeirah 1. www.oconceptdubai.wordpress.com (04 345 5557).
Bambah The brands: Reconstructed and designer vintage Who shops here? Located on Jumeirah Beach Road, Bambah is a lesson in what every vintage boutique should be (not to mention every girl’s dream dressing room). Attracting genuine vintage seekers and fashion lovers alike, Bambah step up to the mark with its selection of flirty accessories, whimsical dresses and delicate interior pieces from the 1930s all the way up to the 1980s. The vintage designer offerings are impressive too (hello Chanel handbags) and the hardwood polished floors and Marie Antoinette-style furniture only further demonstrate that this is a boutique which knows exactly what it is doing – and it is doing it well. 142 Jumeirah Beach Road. www.bambah.com (050 674 1754).
Comptoir 102 The brands: Jerome Dreyfuss, Aga, Tse Tse ceramics, Polder, Ines Who shops here? Relatively new to the boutique scene in Dubai, Comptoir 102 has succeeded where many others have failed by successfully pulling off a boutique and coffee shop that’s homely, stylish and full of character. The brainchild of two Parisian friends, their very French approach has resulted in an easy mix of gourmet food, beautiful home interior pieces and gorgeous accessories that sit happily alongside each other in a stylishly renovated European-feel villa on Jumeirah Beach Road. We like it so much that we don’t want anyone else to know about it, so let’s keep this between us. 102 Jumeirah Road, www.comptoir102.com (04 385 4555).
S*uce The brands: Greek fashion designer Mary Katrantzou, Italian label MSGM, Japanese brand Sacai. Who shops here? Lovers of all things unique and quirky, S*uce is aimed, it claims, at women who aren’t afraid of experimenting with fashion and are always looking for that special one-off piece with extra detail. The first branch opened in 2004 and the brand was founded by Zayan Ghandour from Lebanon, Emirati Fatima Ghobash and Palestinian Dina Saleh. There are now branches in The Dubai Mall, The Village Mall, Abu Dhabi’s Marina Mall and their latest venture, S*uce in the Hood, in recently opened Citywalk here in Dubai. Various locations including The Dubai Mall www.shopatsauce.com (04 339 9696).
Audrey’s Cat The brands: Christian Dior, Christian Lacroix, YSL, Chanel, Nina Ricci, Vendome, Avon, Trifari and Monet. Who shops here? While Audrey’s Cat does have a small boutique for people to view items, it mostly showcases pieces at events such as Wafi Bazaar. ‘My clients vary in age, antique and vintage can appeal to all women and men (I do like it when men take time to carefully choose a beautiful piece for their loved one for a special occasion, it means they too are taking the antique and vintage on board),’ says owner Lynda Kirby. ‘I now have clients who want gifts for a friend, something unique for themselves and occasionally a piece to finish an outfit for parties of a particular era, such as The Great Gatsby.’ www.audreyscat.net (050 644 3595).
Spontiphoria The brands: Clothing label CiCi London, UK-based Lovett and Co and American home decor from Bella Cottage. UK line Dainty Dizzy is just one of four children’s lines available. Who shops here? Recently opened in Al Wasl Square, this boutique is also a cafe and its Emirati owner Sidiqa claims it’s the first boutique in the city to give both elements equal billing. Aimed at local and expat women you’ll find plenty here including eveningwear, casualwear, jewellery and accessories, children’s clothing, pet accessories, kitchen item, and gifts. And best of all, you can sit and enjoy a slice of cake and a green tea while browsing and admiring the cute pink, white and cream decor. Spontiphoria, Al Wasl Square (04 338 8827).
GarderobeVintage The brands: Alexander McQueen, Alexander Wang, Burberry, Celine, Chanel, Christian Dior, Christian Louboutin and more. There’s just one thing to remember: they are pre-owned (or pre-loved, as Garderobe like to call them). Who shops here? This is again where Garderobe is a bit different from the rest of the city’s boutiques. It’s predominantly online and people can buy and sell items here. They also have a boutique on Jumeirah Beach Road. Some items are available with discounts of up to 70 percent. Garderobe was founded by former fashion buyer Micha Maatouk, who hails from Lebanon. www.garderobe.ae. (04 394 2753).
Market and Platters The brands: Revolution Tea, caviar from Maison Kaviari, Voss water and Monin syrups (popular in the city’s big coffee shops) in a huge range of flavours, to name but a few. Who shops here? Dubai Marina residents form the bulk of this store’s clientele, dropping in to peruse the array of fresh seafood, prepared salads and abundance of colourful fruits and vegetables. Stock changes depending on what’s available and in season; if you’re lucky you can pick up fiery habanero chillies and artisan breads. Pinnacle Tower, Dubai Marina, www.marketandplatters.com.
Zoo Concept The brands: Up-and-coming designers, including Emperor’s New Clothes (ENC), Junk Food, Disney Couture, Friend or Foe, Propaganda, G Shock and more. Who shops here? Anyone with a keen eye for one-offs. The city’s urban crowd are often spotted in garments and accessories they’ve picked up from Zoo, while fashion-forward celebrities have also been spotted wearing pieces stocked by the store (albeit not purchased from it...). Villa 142, Jumeirah Beach Road (opposite Dubai Zoo) and Level Show District, The Dubai Mall, www.facebook.com/thezooconcept (04 349 5585).
Studio 8 The brands: HSY from Pakistan, Priya Kataari Puri from Kuwait, as well as Glitterati and DAS Collection, from the UAE among others. Who shops here? Owned by Sarah Rashid, who was named Businesswoman of the Year in 2010, Studio 8 is a multicultural boutique. Since it first opened in 2009, it’s hosted several exhibitions by some of the top designers in the region. It also sells ranges of modern, stylish abayas, made by Emirati designers, some of which were worn by Paris Hilton when she was filming her TV show here in Dubai. Jumeirah Beach Road, www.studio8.ae (04 344 3934).
Sophie’s Closet The brands: Accessories and costume jewellery from a huge range of designers, including Elizabeth Cole, House of Harlow 1960, Aura by Carolina, David Aubrey, RichRocks, Noir, Lulu Frost, Pink Pave, Mawi London, Joomi Lim, Fallon and many, many more. Who shops here? The focus here is on Dubai’s sartorially-savvy female population – particularly those with a penchant for emulating the style of the celebrities they follow. Many pieces found in Sophie’s Closet (which include jewellery, bags, belts, sunglasses and sparkly hair accessories) have been seen on the likes of Sarah Jessica Parker, Taylor Swift, Beyoncé, Jessica Alba and Katy Perry to name but a few. The Single Business Tower, Sheikh Zayed Road, www.sophiescloset.com (04 380 4600).
Valleydez The brands: Striking high-end fashion, including Collection 75 Faubourg, Noir, Manoush, Georges Hobeika, Rada, Kirsty Ward and more. Who shops here? Ladies of Dubai society with cash to splash (though there are some good deals to be found). If you’re a bold dresser – not just in colour, we’re talking daring silhouettes and eye-catching textures – Valleydez is the place for you. Sunset Mall and Wafi Mall, www.valleydezblog.com.
O’De Rose The brands: Location artisans and designers such as Kfka Goes Pink, Sarah’s Bag, Nada Debs, Bokja Design and Kalimah Brand. Who shops here? Popular with Emiratis and Arab expats thanks to its regional themes and Arabic motifs, the shop’s wares are also snapped up by the rest of the city’s non-Arabic-speaking inhabitants and tourists who want to take a more unique piece of the UAE back home with them. Al Wasl Road, Umm Suqeim 2, www.o-derose.com (04 348 7990).
Symphony The brands: Vivienne Westwood, Zagliani, Illesteva, House of Holland, Temperley London. Who shops here? Symphony is The Dubai Mall’s first multi-brand boutique, and sells clothes from dozens of labels that have all been hand-picked by the owned, Salama Alabbar. You won’t just find clothes in here, as you can also search through the ranges of accessories, or browse the collections of books. Symphony launched its own online store this year, in case you can’t make it to the shop, but you should try. It’s been designed as a place to relax with friends while browsing the clothes from local and international designers. The Dubai Mall, www.symphony.ae (04 330 8050).
Ayesha Depala The brands: All clothes are designed by the owner Ayesha Depala herself. Who shops here? Having launched her own fashion label in 2002, Ayesha Depala owns stores in both Dubai and New Delhi, and has plans to open more in London and Paris. As Depala herself is from India, all her clothes have Indian influences, and she sells ranges of bridal wear and cocktail gowns, many of which have been in international exhibitions. If you can’t decide between all of the dresses in store, you can get a custom one designed for you, with hand-made designs that can take months to make. The Village Mall, Jumeirah Beach Road, www.ayeshadepalabrand.com (04 344 5378).
The Odd Piece The brands: Everything’s designed by the boutique’s owner. Who shops here? This boutique, in the heart of Jumeirah, is owned by interior designer Arwa Hafiz. As well as making her own furniture, she also reinvents vintage and antique furniture, giving it a modern feel. Hafiz has travelled around the world in search of pieces to restore and sell, and there’s an eclectic collection. Some chairs look like they’re straight from the 1950s, others are more contemporary, while others are described as ‘Arabesque.’ The Odd Piece doesn’t just stock furniture, though, and you can also buy home accessories – anything from chandeliers and mirrors to vases. Al Hadiqa Street, Al Wasl Square, Shop 53, www.the-oddpiece.com (04 388 3733).
Etoile The brands: Antonio Marras, Ingie Paris, Amanda Wakeley, Dolce & Gabbana, Derek Lam, Dior (among others). Who shops here? Located in Wafi Mall (although there are several other branches across the Middle East), Etoile is owned by Ingie Chalhoub, who was listed as one of the 100 most powerful Arab women last year. The shop stocks a mixture of luxury brands. There are some from high-end, internationally known brands, as well as clothes from newer, up-and-coming designers, all in a large room. There are sprawling sofas dotted around among the shelves and rails too, in case you find yourself overwhelmed by all the fashion to be found in here. Wafi Mall, www.etoilelaboutique.com (04 327 9132).
Socialista The brands: NYC hipster outfit Opening Ceremony, April May, David Koma, Emilio De la Morena and Three Floor. Who shops here? The sartorial focus in this Sunset Mall boutique is on ultra-feminine pieces with edgy detailing, non-conventional colour palettes and structuring. We like to think of it as West LA Boutique’s polished and discerning older sister. The sole flagship opened in March 2013 at the hands of stylish siblings Dalia Sadiq Chebaro and Lama Sadiq Azzam and the Palestinian-American duo have finally launched an online store for lunch-break browsers needing their midday Socialista fix. Be warned: you’ll need to have plenty of savings in the bank before your credit card can run amock at this budget-defying hotspot. www.socialistaboutique.com (04 380 6830).