Free personal shoppers in Dubai

Larger stores now offer personal shoppers for free. We tried them out

Sick of trawling clothes rails? We put four of the city’s shopping services to the test.

Unlike many cities in the world, Dubai is one of those places where it’s completely acceptable to get someone to do your shopping for you. A number of the city’s freelance stylists offer their services for a fee, trawling malls and boutiques for new items for your wardrobe. But a handful of high-end department stores and independent boutiques also offer the service free of charge, with no obligation to buy anything. With the latest concept launching late this month, we trial a newbie, plus put three other personal shopping services to the test.

GisellaBlu
The experience: Having not yet found a suitable Dubai location for its standalone boutique, this Singapore-based label is doing things differently: they bring the clothes to you. The stylist arrives with a rack bursting with colour, which piques our interest immediately considering colour is the one element many people struggle with. She also comes armed with a selection of Aurora Wild shoes in our size, which are designed by the same team.

The clothes: The pieces are unique and stunning, the perfect combination of edgy and feminine with bold prints, retro shapes and bright hues. There is a mint-green dress with horse prints, a purple brocade skirt, a black shirt dress (which we’re going gaga for) and snake print art deco-style shoes.

The result: In line with the brief, the stylist begins searching the rack for pieces that could work in the office, as well as evening events, and begins picking outfits she thinks will emphasise our legs. Some of the pieces look and feel rather roomy, but overall they meet expectations.

Cost: There is no obligation to buy and the service is free. But be warned, you’ll find it hard to leave empty-handed.

Price range: GisellaBlu Dhs395-Dhs1,000, GisellaNoir Dhs1,000-Dhs3,000, Aurora Wild shoes Dhs195-Dhs1,500.

5/5
GisellaBlu (050 396 3038).

Bloomingdale’s
The experience: Walk-ins can usually be accommodated but Bloomingdale’s recommends clients book a personal shopper experience in advance, as they have staff with expertise in a variety of areas and can prepare a selection of outfits before you arrive.

The clothes: Most of the items stocked are by high-end designers, including Gucci, Yves St Laurent and Alexander McQueen. That being said, the store also has a contemporary department, which stocks garments from lesser-known international designers. When given a brief for something to wear to a nightspot, Abbas and his team pick out a series of striking garments, including a deep green lace Pucci number, an intensely patterned McQueen dress and a couple of more mature Roland Mouret shifts before pulling out half a shop worth of shoes.

The result: Of the eight dresses we tried on, we really loved two – despite the fact we would never have noticed any of them during any other routine browse of the rails. At the very least, the experience could help encourage you to try and take a few risks.

Cost: There’s no obligation to buy and the services is free.

Price range: It’s huge – anything from a couple of hundred dirhams for a pair of jeans in the sale to tens of thousands for the latest designer handbag.

4/5
Bloomingdale’s, The Dubai Mall, Downtown Dubai (04 350 5333).

Michelle Belau
The experience: Located at Citywalk Mall strip just off Al Wasl Road, this store is the Peruvian brand’s first in Dubai. Shoppers make an appointment with in-house fashion stylist Daniela in advance, letting her know what their sizes are, what occasion they’re shopping for and how they would describe their style. By the time they get to the store, she has a selection of outfits prepared.

The clothes: The store stocks a huge range of styles, textures and cuts (though in limited numbers) which means you’re likely to find at least one you like. During the experience, it’s not just a question of trying on anything – Daniela carefully selects colours from either a cool or hot palette as well as outfit combinations that flatter and balance the individual’s body shape.

The result: Expect to leave with a thorough knowledge of which colours work for you and which you should avoid. If you have traditionally stuck to black and neutral tones, you’ll find your confidence in colour renewed.

Cost: There’s no obligation to buy and the services is free.

Price range: The clothes are priced between Dhs300-Dhs1,000.

5/5
Citywalk, Al Safa Street (opposite Life Pharmacy on Al Wasl Road), www.michellebelau.ae (04 344 9989).

Harvey Nichols
The experience: The head personal shopper leaves us in the hands of a colleague during our visit here. There was a confusion with the appointment and the session felt rushed. At first, we can’t help but feel our brief is being ignored and need to keep reminding him we want to avoid black and white. It takes about 15 minutes before we’re on the same page.

The clothes: They stock all the big designers including Alexander McQueen as well as more affordable, clothes including Victoria Beckham. There are some chic snake print work shirts from Equipment, Sandro tuxedo blazers and cool jeans from J Brand, but the majority is not to our taste.

The result: There are only two pieces we would consider buying out of 14. The personal shoppers are professional although slightly on the serious side.

Cost: Free, with no obligation to buy.

Price range: You’ll find items for a few hundred dirhams all the way up to tens of thousands.

3/5
Harvey Nichols, Mall of the Emirates, Al Barsha (04 409 8888).


Three more to try

S*uce Gifts
This swift service is free and can be done in person, over the phone or email.
S*uce Gifts, Al Wasl Square (04 388 3488).

Voluptu
British designer Rachel Ohan assists with finding the best cut for your body type and also offers a bespoke service.
Voluptu, Objects & Elements, Al Quoz (050 625 7577).

Glam On You
Meet the designer and founder of the label and determine what pieces will best suit you.
Glam On You, Al Wasl Road (04 385 5486).

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