Exclusive: Globally Renowned Indian Designer Anita Dongre Opens Her Very First Middle East Store With a Special Ramadan Collection
Photo: Courtesy Anita Dongre
Back in 1995, Anita Dongre set out to realize her biggest dream, launching her clothing brand from the balcony of her apartment. Today, more than a decade later, the powerhouse stands proud in the league of India’s most-loved designers, and her creations have found themselves all over the globe, from regal weddings to international red carpets. Working with thousands of independent artisans, Dongre oversees a myriad of labels including Anita Dongre Couture, Grassroot by Anita Dongre, AND and Global Desi, and her trademark aesthetic, and dedication toward social sustainability is now rooted in the rich tapestry of Indian fashion.
With a fan following that runs into millions—including celebrities like Priyanka Chopra, Beyoncé and Kate Middleton—Anita Dongre is taking another major step with her brand this year. In a matter of days, the couturier will open the doors to her very first boutique in the Middle East, taking the label to a new high, and offering her vibrant creations, which blur the lines between contemporary cuts and intricate Indian craftsmanship, to a whole new market.
Photo: Courtesy Anita Dongre
For Dongre, choosing Dubai as the location for her very first space in the region was a no-brainer given the strong ties she shares with the emirate. “I’m just so excited because I’ve wanted to open in Dubai since forever,” she says with a sparkle in her eye as she opens up for the very first time about the new venture. “I have a lot of family in Dubai and have been visiting for years, and I have always, always wanted a store here. Four years ago we made plans to finally do it, we began checking out locations, and then unfortunately COVID happened. That delayed our plans by two and a half years.”
Despite the long pause, the boutique, located in Dubai Mall, is now all set for visitors, and will offer an array of covetable ready-to-wear pieces from the designer. “It’s a smaller space than some of my India spaces,” Dongre explains, “but we are hoping to bring the bridal line in soon… I’d say within this year itself.” This piece of news is bound to catch the eye of brides-to-be within the country, but that’s not where the revelations end. To celebrate her first steps into the region, Dongre is also going to be dropping a special Ramadan collection. “While the RTW line is aimed at everybody—I see Dubai as the home of the international customer—we are also doing a special line for Ramadan, dedicated to the Middle Eastern woman,” she elaborates. “We’re really excited that we’re opening at a time so close to the Eid celebrations. It’s very important for me, if I’m entering the Middle Eastern market, to understand the Middle Eastern woman and what she wants. It was very important for me to create a special line just for her. I’m really looking forward to being at the store and getting to know my customer better, and taking that line further.”
Photo: Courtesy Anita Dongre
While the creations at the store reflect a fresh, Arabia-inspired lens on the designer’s signature pieces, brand loyalists can expect to feel right at home once they walk through the stores of her boutique. Just like every other Anita Dongre store, the Dubai Mall space will celebrate the beauty of Rajasthan with a twist of the contemporary via thoughtfully chosen elements that have now become synonymous with the brand, ranging from physical decor pieces to olfactory details. “With every store, we tweak the design to reflect the soul of the label. So the theme is always contemporary Rajasthan, because Jaipur is where I am from,” she shares. “The Dubai store is on the similar lines as all my other spaces. It’s got beautiful hand painted panels by my Pichwai artist in Rajasthan, so there’s a lot of craft there. Also, there’s this signature fragrance that all my stores carry, which customers just recognize immediately!” And for the shopper who’d rather have their favorite pieces come to their doorstep, a brand new Anita Dongre website dedicated to UAE customers will soon be made available as well. “It’s going to play an important role for us, helping us service the market much better,” Dongre says. “I think the customer today first browses on the internet, and then comes to the store.”
Whether you decide to click your way through the iconic brand’s promising Ramadan must-haves, or immerse yourself in the Anita Dongre experience in person at the new boutique, one thing is for certain: you won’t be away for too long. With the Dubai Mall store opening now right around the corner, Vogue Arabia asks Dongre a few quick questions about fashion, and the region she is all set to win over this year.
Anita Dongre. Photo: Courtesy Anita Dongre
Tell us about how the Anita Dongre brand came to lifeI started my signature label with bridal wear. I wanted to create very contemporary bridal wear for India. I wanted to create clothes that are light, fun, and easy, because I wanted to reflect the change the Indian woman is going through, because she is going through a huge change. And that’s how the brand started. Today, it consists of a ready-to-wear line, along with occasion wear, wedding wear, and now accessories too.
What, according to you, is the biggest similarity between the Indian and Middle Eastern Anita Dongre woman?Women all over the world, I believe, want to look beautiful and express their identity through their clothes. But particularly in the east, I think women love color. There’s a certain sensibility that both Indian and Middle Eastern women have that is common between the two, and I think that’s what makes it magical. The differences are too small between the two of them. Essentially, our cultures are so similar.
Which Middle Eastern women would you like to see wearing Anita Dongre pieces?I’m getting to know the women in the region, and there are some very strong, powerful women over here. These are women I’ve been reading up about, and I admire them already. I’d love to get to know them, I’d love to dress Queen Rania, Mona Zaki (I’m going to be watching many more of her movies!), director and activist Nadine Labaki, Nayla Al Khaja, and Hend Sabri. Any woman who is working towards changing the world and making lives better, who works towards women’s empowerment, is a woman I’d like to dress.