People don’t just say ‘you have to try the tailors’ to expats arriving in Dubai. They say, ‘you have to try Dream Girls’. Not to be confused with the two-hour long Destiny’s Child video that is Dream Girls – the movie, or, indeed, a less reputable establishment altogether, Dream Girls is the most widely-recommended tailors on the Satwa block.
People will also tell you that it is best to take an item in to be copied, rather than just a design idea or magazine pull-out – although the selection of Next and Bollywood catalogues at the front of the store are all-encompassing and inspiring in a conventional/spangly way. [Just don’t ask for a ‘Warren Beatty in The Parallax View’-inspired shirt. The results were skin-tight and not pretty.] We, however, preferred to seek out our material first, hunt about for a dress design that it would work with and then approach the tailor of reveries.
Inside, we slipped on the dress and pointed out the things we wanted slightly different on our new version – perhaps taking it in, or, more likely, out slightly – which they marked on with chalk. These instructions were then passed back to the dressmakers quietly buzzing at the back of the store via a complex ‘bag tag’ filing system.
All that was left was to set a date for us to come and pick up our new togs – a speedily sewn five dresses in under two weeks – which they managed to stick to. Alterations are also big business for the dreamers: buttons and zips can be fixed for as little as Dhs15, and any changes required are done free of charge. However, the Chinese whispers system used to pass design instructions back to the invisible seamsters out the back has been known to upset the Dream Girls fantasy – with adaptations occasionally coming back bunched up or with strange creases.
However, the dresses returned to us have always fitted snugly, with delicate finishes and a tiny price tag starting from just Dhs150. We were particularly impressed with the pink, sequined veil they mastered for a friend’s hen night without any sort of design to follow – the stuff of garish, L-plate-wearing nightmares.