If you’re looking to get something different for your loved ones this Christmas, you need to head to one of the UAE’s independent boutiques.

Etoile La Boutique


What is it: Founded by Ingie Chalhoub, creator of home-grown fashion brand Ingie Paris, Etoile La Boutique stocks a carefully selected collection of pieces from local and international luxury brands. The brand selection ranges from Christian Dior to Sachin + Babi, with a few of the most on-trend pieces from each brand. Head to the back of the store to find the evening gown selection – perfect for any glam UAE event you have coming up. There’s also a great shoes and accessories range with everything from quirky bags to statement sunglasses. Whether we’re splashing out on a black tie dress or just spending a couple hundred dirhams on some new sunnies, there is something we love every time we go into this store.

Shop style: Its golden walls and dreamy ambience give an ethereal feel. Every item in this store will make you look and feel like a princess.

Brands stocked: Christian Dior, Carolina Herrera, Ingie Paris, Antonio Berardi and Rochas. You’ll also find pop-ups from local brands – Kage currently have their collection in store.

What the founder says: ‘I wanted to create a piece of art in the world of fashion,’ Ingie tells us; ‘a gem that would be surprising and reassuring at the same time.’

Perfect for those whose style is: Glam with a fashionable edge. Or any woman who loves a red carpet event.

What else you can buy: Fashion books by Dior and Bulgari as well as quirky make-up and laptop cases.

Price range: $$$$$

Average price for a dress: Dh3,000 while sunglasses and accessories can be as little as Dh200.

Where to find it: Level 1, Mall of the Emirates, Dubai.


What is it: Hautletic brings performance and style together with fashionable gym and sportswear from niche brands from the US or Europe. Hautletic are very focused on fair pricing so you’ll find that there is no mark-up. It’s a one-stop shop to getting gym wear that will make sure you still look great even after 20 mountain climbers!

Shop style: Its yellow and black colour palette and architectural design feel like a warehouse gym.

Brands stocked: Michi – an American fitness brand that’s a favourite of Kate Hudson and Rosie Huntington Whiteley; streetwear-meets-sportswear label PE Nation; cool active wear brand Koral; Charli; and the Kardashians’ favourite sportswear brand Private Party.

What the founder says: ‘We have taken a lot of time to curate a strong selection across various fashion aesthetics and fit to ensure we meet the performance and athleisure needs for the busy and fashion conscious woman,’ says Priya Bhatia.

Perfect for those whose style is: Khloe Kardashian or Kate Hudson on a workout day.

What else you can buy: Kold Press Juice, dry shampoo, yoga mats and lace-on shoe wings called Swings.

Price range: $$$

Average price for leggings: Dh500

Where to find it: Galleria Mall, Al Wasl Road, Dubai

Love Shop Pray

What is it: Love Shop Pray is aimed at Dubai’s art and design crowd and only stocks limited-edition collections and special collaboration merchandise so is perfect if you’re looking to find something that you won’t get anywhere else in Dubai. The recently opened store in Jumeirah was founded by designer Preeti Chandra in order to bring together select independent lifestyle, fashion and home brands.

Shop style: The store feels very artsy and creative with shabby chic décor and cute displays.

Brands stocked: Italian fashion brand Que Guapa, Arabian streetwear brand Free Minds, Preeti’s own collection and the Love Shop Pray collection, which was also designed by Preeti.

What the founder says: ‘The customer base consists of fashion-forward and social media-savvy individuals, which means they have access to information about the latest lifestyle and fashion trends,’ says Preeti.

Perfect for those whose style is: An Instagrammable artsy mismatch of styles collected from around the world.

What else you can buy: Brightly coloured chairs with bird and leaf designs, costume jewellery, embellished and printed loafers and beach bags with silver sequins and fringe.

Price range: $$$

Average price for a dress: Dh2,000

Where to find it: Al Wasl Road, Villa 333, Jumeirah 1, Dubai

S*uce on-Sea

What is it: Of all the S*uce boutiques in the UAE Sauce on-Sea is our favourite. Situated just back from the beach at JBR, it’s a one-stop-shop for holiday clothes and accessories. Every brand has been chosen to fit the quirky feel of the store, and while they aren’t all affordable, you can pick up a swimsuit or bikini for a few hundred dirhams. You can even find those overly-Instagrammed oversize inflatables (go on, we know you want one!)

Shop style: Airy and white with a beach feel.

Brands stocked: Stella McCartney swimwear, Linda Farrow sunglasses, Sundress

What the founder says: ‘S*uce on-sea is a beachside concept store entirely dedicated to the cool, the unusual and the niche when it comes to beachwear and resort. It was a very natural step forward for us to create S*uce on-sea, and its personality is so intrinsically tied to the core sauce identity that the On-Sea customer is not too different from our main S*uce shopper. She is looking for cult brands and exclusive styles, in everything from swimwear to lounge wear,’ co- founder Zayan Ghandour tells us.

Perfect for those whose style is: Beachwear every day.

What else you can buy: Giant flamingo and pizza inflatables.

Price range: $$$

Average price for a dress: Dh2,000

Where to find it: The Beach, Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR), Dubai

The cARTel Reborn

What is it: The cARTel Reborn is the second concept store from The cARTel and recently opened its doors in D3. The art gallery-meets-fashion store stocks around 160 edgy and unusual independent brands for men and women all carefully chosen by founder May Barber, who works with designers from all around the world. The new store has the addition of ‘the box’ where designers are encouraged to ‘think inside the box’ so they can express their artistic creativity.

Shop style: Dim lighting, geometric shapes – like an art gallery for fashion.

Brands stocked: Juan Hernandes Daels from Argentina, Lamat by Ivana Damjanović from Serbia, Exocet by Yasmine Jaber from Lebanon, Morning Lay from Hong Kong, Pangolin from Colombia and Consistence from London.

What the founder says: “The cARTel Reborn caters to a diverse range of clientele of women and men all looking for something unique and exclusive to contribute to their individualistic style,’ says May.

Perfect for those whose style is: Minimalistic with an affinity for geometry and intricate designs.

What else you can buy: Accessories and bags with geometrical designs and shapes.

Price range: $$

Average price for a dress: Dh2,000

Where to find it: Dubai Design District, Building 9, Shop No. 105, Dubai

Closet Case

What is it: This menswear boutique features luxury designers from all around the world. The clothes aren’t for your average Joe but for fashion conscious men who want to stand out.

Shop style: Modern and manly. The stained wood floor give a rustic feel to the metallic ceiling designs.

Brands stocked: Ann Demeulemeester, Rick Owens, Juun J, Boris Bidjan Saberi and Yohji Yamamoto.

What the founder says: ‘Our clients are individuals with unique taste, and it’s for us to provide them with a totally different experience, hence we’ve created an atmosphere that caters to this,’ Bobby Chehrazi tells us. ‘In this environment, we’re very relaxed, as it is all about the personality of our clients and the product.’

Perfect for those whose style is: Men who want to make a statement with their wardrobe.

What else you can buy: Unisex perfumes and eyewear from Japan, Germany and Denmark.

Price range: $$$ 

Average price for a shirt: Between Dh350 and Dh15,000 – so there’s something for most budgets.

Where to find it: Building 7, Unit R09, Dubai Design District, Dubai

Signature Studio

What is it: Signature Studio stocks collections from designers based in Pakistan, the only store of its kind in the city. While their designers are always the latest, they pride themselves on being affordable. New collections are flown in on a monthly basis so there’s always something different to see.

Shop style: The pastel walls, black chandeliers and muted lighting create a warm and inviting feeling.

Brands stocked: All the brands are direct from Pakistan and include Sammy K, SNL by Sofia Naveed Lari, Cross Stitch, Maria Rao and JV Haute Couture.

What the founder says: ‘Signature Studio is all about curation of exclusive Pakistani fashion wear from our carefully selected designers,’ says Anna Shoaib. ‘We strive hard to bring trends and cuts that are most suitable for our customer’s fashion needs and ensure that when customers walk into our store, they only get the best shopping experience.’

Perfect for those whose style is: Traditional but want to keep up with the latest trends.

What else you can buy: Elegant costume jewellery.

Price range: $$

Average price for a tunic: Dh400

Where to find it: Shop G22, Bay Avenue, Executive Towers, Business Bay, Dubai

The Mez

What is it: Situated on the upper floor of Dubai Garden Centre, The Mez brings together stalls and shops from a range of local designers and brands. You can find swimwear, accessories, shoes and baby clothes.

Shop style: A shop within a shop The Mez has a market feel to it with different stalls and areas for each brand.

Brands stocked: Beach Hut, Sandal Souq, Lou Harvey, Sweet Baby Street and Moxilicious.

What the founder says: Says Desert Group CEO Michael Mascarenhas: ‘Dubai Garden Centre is the go-to hub for families and individuals alike, a home away from home in a natural environment. The Mezzanine is a lively space where the products offered bring vibrancy and life to our personalities.’.

Perfect for those whose style is: Beachy accessories lovers. Also great for mums looking for something unique for their babies.

What else you can buy: Moccasins for babies, laminated bags, coolers, wallets and vanities.

Price range: $

Average price for a swimsuit: Dh250

Where to find it: Dubai Garden Centre, Mezzanine Floor, Shaikh Zayed Road, Dubai

F7 Design

What is it: Founded by Fatma Abdul Jalil Al Fahim, F7 Design combines shopping, art, live workshops, exhibitions and events within this modern boutique. The clothes are chosen from all corners of the world aiming to bring together a unique collection of unique and artistic pieces.

Shop style: Sleek black and white decor with metallic integrated into the ceiling and shelf designs that add to the futuristic atmosphere.

Brands stocked: Jabari Milano, The Volon, Alex Perry, Awake, F7 by Fatma, Rosario Atelier, Ivy Kirzhner, Luce Macchia.

What the founder says: ‘This isn’t just about clothing and accessories to me [but] about creating an experience – within the store, of course, but also when you’re wearing or sharing these pieces out in the world. This space is art [and] everything we curate and sell is artistic in its own right,’ Fatma tells us.

Perfect for those whose style is: Extravagant and one-of-a-kind.

What else you can buy: One-off home accessories and soft furnishings.

Price range: $$$$

Average price for a dress: Dh3,000

Where to find it: Building No. 4, Dubai Design District, Dubai

The Rack by Kachins


What is it: The Rack by Kachins brings together some of the hottest designers from India that otherwise can’t be found in the UAE. It is part of the Kachins Group, Dubai-based suit makers that have been here for over 35 years. The recently opened boutique selects the biggest names in India.

Shop style: Gold décor and stone flooring and waterfalls all lead to the opulent golden interior that is reminiscent of the era of the Maharajas.

Brands stocked: Anamika Khanna, Tarun Tahiliani, Anita Dongre, Pankaj & Nidhi and Payal Singhal.

What the founder says: ‘It is a treat for the fashionistas who admire the work of Indian designers but cannot own something due to their non-availability in the UAE market,’ creative director Neetu Ramchandani tells us. ‘Our clients will enjoy personalised attention helping them get the desired look with the most flattering silhouettes.’

Perfect for those whose style is: Aishwarya Rai Bachchan glam or searching for that perfect bridal look.

What else you can buy: Western-style designs with an Indian twist.

Price range: $$$$$

Average price for a lehenga/sherwani: Dh10,000

Where to find it: Villa No. 446, Opposite Box Park, Al Wasl Road, Jumeirah 2, Dubai

Atelier Des Artistes


What is it: Inspired by French style but focusing on Middle Eastern talent, Atelier Des Artistes stocks collections from some of the region’s upcoming and established designers. Many pieces have been designed to be sold exclusively in the boutique. This does mean, however, that you won’t pick up a bargain here but more a piece that you will treasure for ever.

Shop style: Elegant and extravagant golden décor and spiral staircases embodies the French chic vibe of the boutique

Brands stocked: In-house label Couture Des Artistes, which features kaftans for special events like a wedding or Eid; Shady Zeineldine, Dina Melwani, Lamitta Frangieh.

What the founder says: ‘Individuality is very important for consumers in this market,’ Nerveen Al Jabban, the boutique’s retail manager and a personal stylist, tells Friday. ‘Our customers are well-travelled and keep a close eye on global fashion trends and combined with their cultural Middle Eastern influences, have a developed refined personal style and discerning approach to how they dress. Atelier Des Artistes is a space which celebrates the unsurpassed quality, design and exquisite craftsmanship of some of the region’s most inspired garment and accessory designers alongside international talent.’

Perfect for those whose style is: Individual and classy.

What else you can buy: Jewellery including earrings and necklaces.

Price range: $$$$$

Average price for a dress: Dh10,000

Where to find it: Box Park, Dubai


What is it: Vesimi stocks a huge selection of traditional and contemporary Indian clothing. Whether you are looking for a heavy wedding dress or a modern skirt and cropped top, Vesimi has womens and menswear for every occasion. You will notice some of the traditionwear is one-off pieces that can stay in store for a long time, but the contemporary collections are always being updated and have a much larger selection of styles and sizes.

Shop style: A treasure trove of items, this converted villa is endless, with room after room of clothes.

Brands stocked: Manish Arora, Ridhima Bhasin, Pankaj & Nidhi and Ridhi Mehra.

What the founder says: Perfect for those whose style is: Traditional Indian with a modern twist.

What else you can buy: Costume jewellery and traditional shoes.

Price range: $$$$

Average price for a dress: Dh1,700

Where to find it: Villa 80C, Jumeirah Beach Road, Jumeirah, Dubai