If the sights seen while taking a stroll down “The Riviera Arabia” are to offer any indication of current times, then the rediscovered island off the coast of Qatar, otherwise known as the Pearl, only serves to highlight that the Gulf state represents one of the world’s most rapidly expanding economies with a discerning taste for luxury. Villas, yachts, fine dining, and high-end shopping venues line the numerous sun-soaked boardwalks.
This is also the new, second home of D’NA, a concept store with quite possibly the most sophisticated curated collection of fashion and design pieces in the region, offering a members-only shopping experience that aims to seamlessly bridge East and West. D’NA’s first store, opened in Riyadh in October 2006, has previously hosted fashion and accessory collections from regional and international designers including Azzeddine Alaïa, Haider Ackerman, Giambattista Valli, Alexander Wang, Prabal Gurung, and Reem Al Kanhal.
Coming off the success of a one-month pop-up store hosted in the Katara Art Center, Doha’s up-and-coming art gallery, which has housed works from the likes of Francis Bacon and Gerhard Richter, Deena Aljuhani Abdulaziz and Manal Abdulaziz Al-Rashed, the visionaries behind D’NA, along with their Qatari partners, officially opened the Doha store this past Saturday. Highly anticipated, the second store will offer contemporary collections while inciting new conversations about fashion, art, and design.
Style.com Arabia spoke with Deena about expanding D’NA to Doha and objects of desire for Spring/Summer 2013.
What’s the store concept?
The Doha store feels like the little sister of the original D’NA boutique in Riyadh. The size of the store is smaller, but the vibe is still there. It has a different flavor to it, but it still feels like D’NA. The layout is on one floor rather than two. Conceptually, the store feels like a jewel box. It revolves around what’s inside rather than what’s outside. The Riyadh store was inspired by Japanese light boxes and the Doha store is a continuation of that but with a twist.
What was the inspiration behind the design?
The outside facade has pipes. The idea of the facade came from an art space in the Dashanzi Art District in Bejing that I was enamored with. The Dashanzi Art District is a very contemporary area that’s often compared to Greenwich Village or SoHo in New York.
Who is your target customer?
The profile of our target customer in Doha is similar to Riyadh. She is someone who is looking for the “object of desire”, which is what we aimed for all along.
How would you define an object of desire?
An object that transcends fashion. Something that you may not necessarily need, but you want desperately.
What sort of objects do you think would be most desired in the store right now? Which ones excite you the most?
It’s what’s coming in the Spring/Summer 2013 line. A custom longer version of an evening dress by Prabal Gurung. The Mira dress by Mary Katrantzou. The series of perfume bags from Charlotte Olympia. We’re also the only store in Doha to carry Frédéric Malle Editions des Parfums.
Why did you choose the specific location that you did in Doha?
We chose the Pearl because we felt that the location had all the elements needed for our customer base and for its privacy going in and out (hence being parcel 11). It’s near the anchors that attract our customers with out being too close to them.
Does the buying for the Doha store differ from Riyadh?
Understanding our customers and then evolving to suit their needs is an ongoing learning process. For now, some details are different like sizing and colors, but not by much.
What differentiates your store from your competitors?
Because we’re a members-only store, the services we offer are quite unique. Many of the designers or collections we carry are exclusive to us. We offer bespoke services such as placing direct orders for clients, as well as having specific customers in mind when placing orders for our store and being alert to certain preferences that they may have. In fact, sometimes we only have one piece of one style by any given designer, with a specific customer in mind. On an appointment basis, we’re also able to close the store for a client free-of-charge so that she may enjoy a private and customized shopping experience.
After Doha, where does D’NA go next?
We would like to have a greater online presence for D’NA, so that would be our next aim.
D’NA is located at 20 La Croisette, Porto Arabia, Pearl Qatar and in Riyadh.