I’m always making the joke that every three years I need to change either my job, my house, or my husband,” laughs Natalia Shustova. Although the Dubai-based tastemaker and businesswoman is obviously joking, like most jokes, there is some truth in it.
The creator of popular style blog shoestova.com started her career as a lawyer before moving into fashion five years ago, amassing a global following of 137,000 on Instagram. Recently, she founded GREY SPACE, a distribution agency and consultancy that helps nurture local talent and bring upcoming designers to the Middle East. She’s lived in her current triplex penthouse in Downtown Dubai with her husband for three years, and they’re already thinking about where they’ll go next. Her style also gets a regular overhaul and, as you can imagine, Natalia’s illustrious personal sales are always popular. “Usually when we move we sell everything, and start in the next house completely brand new,” she says, explaining that she takes the same approach to dressing. “I don’t like to be known for something specific. I can be punk, I can be grunge, I can be classy, I can be a Chanel girl… it’s the art of [being] brand new every day.”
There are no curtains in her modern 7,000 square-foot home, which she refers to as ‘The Box’ due to its huge floor-to-ceiling windows. “I have a view of the sunset over the sea and then I have the energy of a big town with the Sheikh Zayed Road view,” she says. “On the other side I have beautiful lights coming from The Dubai Mall and Downtown. My favourite thing is to wake up seeing how Dubai woke up today.”
Most of the pieces in Natalia’s home have been collected during her travels with her husband, or made-to-order. There’s a 400-year-old antique door that’s currently being used as a board in front of their bed, and art that they’ve found, been gifted, or made themselves.
“We have a beautiful pair of chairs that we found in a vintage souk in Lebanon. Back home my husband discovered that the price of them goes up to £300,000 (Dhs1.4 million) because they’re that rare. We made the mistake of upholstering them differently and didn’t keep them in their original condition…” While others might be kicking themselves over this, Natalia regales the story as if it makes the chairs even more of a talking point. Which, we suppose, it does.
The one thing that you are likely to find in every house the fashionista lives in is a disco ball. She sees them as a beacon of fun. “If we see a disco ball, it’s a sign that the people think the same way that we do,” she explains, summing up the vibe of the apartment nicely. The couple love to entertain, choosing to cook for 20 people at a time rather than just a few friends, inviting pals over for drinks and serving them behind their very own bar.
Natalia’s children are encouraged to treat the house in the same way. “We’re constantly hosting massive movie nights where everyone is bringing a beanbag,” she smiles. When people come into our house the first thing they say is ‘wow’. Being the mum of three teenagers who always want to impress their mates, it really helps,” she laughs.
Natalia has a magnetic energy that makes you want to be around her. When we put this to her, she seems flattered. “Doing things gives me more energy. Some people make a big deal of doing things. Like the people who pack their suitcases on a Tuesday when they’re flying on a Friday… no. I’m packing for the flight 40 minutes before I leave.”
And like a butterfly that goes through a complete metamorphosis, who knows what she’ll change when she gets back?
From the November 2019 issue of Harper's Bazaar Arabia
Styling by: Kim Bari
Production Assistant: Brian Timmer
Stylist Assistant: Ayesha Mazher
Photography: Efraim Evidor