Fashion's favorite Saudi Arabian muse, Princess Deena Abdulaziz, is turning her cross-cultural style into one of the most exciting retail ventures in the Middle East.
Saudi Arabian style-setter and retail pioneer Princess Deena Abdulaziz has turned her cross-cultural aesthetic into one of the most exciting retail ventures in the Middle East.
Her Highness Princess Deena Abdulaziz is a Saudi Arabian deity of style. Dividing her time between New York and her native Riyadh, this globetrotting mother of three is climbing the fashion ranks as the new cross-cultural embassadrice of East meets West style.
Abdulaziz proved her credentials as a tastemaker amongst fashion's elite years ago when she walked down the aisle in a bespoke wedding gown designed by Azzedine Alaia (who she counts among her close friends) and had a pair of sling-back heels named after her by Christian Louboutin.
Weaving her disparate influences and inspirations into a transcontinental taste-making tapestry, she put all of her passions under one roof in 2006 with the opening of DNA, the first member's only retail emporium exclusively for women in Riyadh. Created — as the name would suggest —around the inimitable glamour genes of its owner, the eclectic multi-brand concept shop is an extension of her intimate universe where tradition and modernity blend harmoniously.
Extending her personal mix and match aesthetic to the direction at DNA, the shop covers the gamut in lifestyle essentials for the well-traveled 21st century fashionista. Inside the museum-like space, contemporary art and modern design mix with the latest avant-garde fashions, up-and-coming jewelry designs, coffee table tombs and customized luggage. Filling the gap in the market for clothes that meet Muslim standards of dress yet are beautiful and stylish at the same time, Abdulaziz is working with Western talents (such as Diane Von Furstenberg, Behna Sarafpour and Martin Margiela) to customize clothes for the well-heeled Arabian women, be she a Princess or not.
What is your definition of luxury?
Being comfortable in my own skin—that is the ultimate!
If luxury were a person who would it be?
If luxury were a place where would it be?
If it were a place it would be in a Slim Aarons photo.
If luxury were an object what would it be?
It would be the Burton Krupp diamond on Elizabeth Taylor's finger!!
How and where did you develop your passion for fashion?
I developed my passion ever since I can remember from women like my mother, who is still an icon for me.
As a continent-crossing fashion connoisseur, how is your personal style a reflection of your multicultural lifestyle?
My personal style translates to wherever I am. It's mix-and-match. I guess I'm lucky.
With homes in NY and Riyadh, how do your beauty and dressing rituals differ in each city?
My beauty and dressing differ according to climate and social habits, what works in NY could be the opposite of Riyadh!
What inspired you to share your taste in fashion with others by opening up an exclusive boutique? What have been the greatest pleasures in doing so?
What inspired me was that for the longest time I did nothing with my knowledge and extreme passion, but when I went to the International Herald Tribune Luxury Conference in Dubai about two years ago people like Diane von Furstenberg and Majed Al Sabah, the owner of Villa Moda, encouraged me, so I went all out!
How has your unique background influenced your ability to scout new talent from around the globe for your boutique, DNA?
My background may have helped me scouting new talent. I see it my duty is to find talents from the region and community that otherwise wouldn't have the chance, but I support talent from anywhere! A really good example is the fact that I carry the label 3 as four at DNA.
You work with Western designers to customize clothing for your clientele. How would you describe the aesthetic that has emerged as a result of that cross-cultural fertilization?
Making custom things for DNA has been an amazing process and surprisingly very successful. Designers themselves are now contemplating making these things for their local market. Some stores in the gulf are now following our lead by ordering custom-made abayas (traditional black dress worn over women's cloths), or the wrap dress by Diane von Furstenberg in floor length.
What is your advice for Western women when traveling to the Middle East and vice versa?
My advice to western women is to get inspired!!! For Arabian women traveling to the West, I always suggest incorporating personality and cultural style into what you wear abroad. It makes an outfit that more interesting.
How has the Arab consumer's style evolved over the last ten years and how to do see that trend developing in the future?
The Arab consumer's style has developed so much as an effect of globalization especially in the area of fashion. Thanks to the internet and the media you can now copy a look immediately after having seen it. Also people are following young Hollywood stars like never before, so you have people here who's style is heavily influenced by someone like Rachel Zoe, Patricia Field or Arianna Phillips without even realizing it!!
Which designers and brands do your customers craze most? Which items sell out most quickly?
My sell out items by far are Bodyamr womenswear and Louboutin shoes!
Which up-and-coming designers are you most excited about this season?
I am excited about Dice Kayek (www.dicekayek.com) and Manish Aurora (www.manisharora.ws) for their potential in my market.
What are the accessories on your wish list from the fall/winter collections?
On my wish list would include clutch bags in cobalt blue and deep purple from Marc Jacobs and the Guinevere braided evening dress from Behna Sarafpour! And, of course, anything Alaïa!
What are your five favorite places to shop in each city?
In New York I love Kirna Zabete and American Apparel! In Paris Colette of course and L'Eclarier, Montaigne Market and Hermès anytime!
Louboutin named a shoe after you. If you could have any other luxury item named in your honor, what would it be?
If I could have a luxury item made after me it would be a Cartier watch like Maria Felix called la Deena!!!
What is your secret to a perfect ensemble?
The secret to perfect ensemble are two things: before leaving the house remove one item, the other is feeling confident in whatever you're wearing!
6611 Takhasusi Street, All Rahmania
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
T. +966 1 419 99 66