Louise Nichol talks technology and tradition
Over the last 10 years, Deena Aljuhani Abdulaziz and her concept store D’NA have revolutionised the way Arab women, and home grown Middle East retailers, are viewed by the international fashion community. With her culturally-appropriate yet cutting edge sense of style, the Saudi retailer has become one of the most influential fashion figures, not just in the region, in the world. In this month’s issue, Deena unveils her game-changing strategy for the business as she shutters her bricks and mortar stores in Riyadh and Doha, simultaneously launching her new online platform, Dnachic.com.
“As I was approaching this milestone in my career, I wanted to think about my next move and challenge myself,” Deena tells Bazaar in Fashion’s Next Frontier (page 80). “Although the Gulf has been slow to embrace online luxury shopping, today Saudi women are frequently purchasing big ticket items from their phones,” she explains. Home to one-of-a-kind designs by the likes of Mary Katrantzou, Gianvito Rossi, Eddie Borgo and Aquazzura, as well as Gulf talent such as Lulwa Al Amin, The Kayys and Daneh Buahmad, Dnachic.com will throw open Deena’s expertly curated vision to the world, providing a much-needed platform for regional creativity. “If we don’t support our own talent at home and help them build recognition internationally, then it will be difficult to nurture a credible fashion industry in the region,” she concludes.
The move follows the news that Net-a-Porter is set to increase its focus on the Middle East, in the wake of Dubai-based Alabbar Enterprises’ Dhs415 million investment for a four per cent stake in Yoox Net-a-Porter. Federico Marchetti, chief executive of the online retail giant, promised, “We have big plans for the region.” Even that bastion of traditional French luxury, Hermès, is looking to the Gulf, with Bazaar unveiling the first line of Hermès turbans produced exclusively for the house’s stores in Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Abu Dhabi and Dubai (Head Master, page 55).
Clearly, if you want to get ahead, look to the Middle East.