The woman behind MAHANI Dubai

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MAHANI Dubai has been described as, “An antidote to the polished slickness of modern retail in the Emirates.” As Dubai’s first concept store it’s the ideal destination for the young and fashionable to see more of what young designers today can offer to the market. MAHANI is a place where young up-and-coming designers can flourish alongside more established names. Farah Taqi, the young Bahraini managing director of the first of it’s kind, family owned, concept store has done nothing but impress when the store opened on May 2nd. Sketchbook caught up with Farah to learn more about the store, it’s designers and Mahani as a whole.

 

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It was mentioned in your website that “The store is a place where young designers can flourish alongside established designers. Every piece is selected with the MAHANI customer in mind ensuring exclusivity.”

On what basis are the designer’s chosen? Describe their style in three words.

Original, fun, quality

 

Who are the most notable ones?

Rodarte, Raf Simons, Mugler

 

What is the ideal Mahani customer’s mindset? Who is MAHANI Dubai’s ideal customer?

 The MAHANI customer wants to discover new designers and aspects of fashion, dressing as an individual whether through an entire outfit or an accessory that brings everything together.

 

The name MAHANI is unusually unique. Where did the name come from and why was it ultimately chosen?

It’s my aunts name. Um Hani (known as Mahani) Taqi owned a tailoring shop and was known for her beautiful embroidery. It’s where I first discovered my love for fashion.

MAHANI is a family business and I wanted a personal feel and a name that meant something to the family. It’s also a way for me to honor and keep her aunt close.

 

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On what basis/concept was the interior of the store modeled after? Why?

We wanted to create a space that was very versatile and flexible. Both Cedric and I had lived in London, and wanted to step away from the prettiness and luxuriousness of Dubai, through refined yet brutal, concrete-filled interiors. Our interior designers are Studio Toogood who have worked with Kenzo, Phillip Lim and Alexander McQueen to name a few.

 

Is it unusual for a concept store to have an in house bakery? Where did the idea come from?

I wanted a place where everyone, no matter their budget, could come and just hang out while being surrounded with fashion and art. We consider ourselves a destination store where you can spend your day, not just a shopping stop. That is a big distinction between being a boutique/department store and a concept store. A concept store is an experience in itself.

 

What kind of experience do you hope your customers leave with when shopping at MAHANI Dubai?

Big smiles and empty pockets.
A greater knowledge of new designers – we’ve been told that the store feels like an art gallery or museum for fashion, and as every designer and piece in store has been carefully curated, we believe in and support each brand.

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What kind of feedback has the store garnered since the launch?

The response has been amazing. People have been thanking us for bringing something different to Dubai. There have been a lot of people commenting that a store with a bit more edgy fashion and interiors was exactly what the market was missing. Before MAHANI opened we were told it was too risky, but where’s the beauty in doing something safe?

 

Are there any future plans to expand in other areas of the gulf?

Currently there aren’t. We are working on an online store that will hopefully launch for AW14, and are considering pop up stores around the gulf. Right now we want it to be quite exclusive, and are working and planning to keep growing as a brand worldwide.

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MAHANI is located in the Boulevard at Jumeirah Emorates Tower in Dubai. 

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WORDS: BADRIYA AL-MAHMEED

Images courtesy of Mahani Dubai