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House of Fraser, Abu Dhabi

The power of the department store is undeniable; everybody has a favourite and each chain attempts to secure its own identity.

One of our leading premium department stores, no longer content with the UK market alone, has recently opened its first flagship in the Middle East. Even if you’ve never been there yourself, you’ll be fairly familiar with the Arabian love of opulence, their formidable architecture and more recent indulgence in retail and leisure developments.

House of Fraser, renowned for its exclusive brands, Biba, Linea, Howick and Therapy, has secured the anchor site of a brand new shopping and leisure complex right in the heart of Abu Dhabi’s commercial and financial district. The newly developed World Trade Centre building is a fusion of classic Arabian architecture and chic modern design. Taking prime position next to the Central Market souk, this contemporary shopping centre offers 150 luxury boutiques, restaurants and an eight screen cinema.

House of Fraser’s new 100,000 square feet, four storey outlet has been specifically designed to suit both the Arabian shopper and the expat alike. The creation of a dual language brand and specific experiences ensures this new venture appeals to all. The sleek sophistication of this British brand has been recreated and substantially glammed up with a much richer, more opulent materials colour palette.

Although on the outside the store appears fairly typical, there are many significant differences within. Traditional Arab dress requires women to show only shoes, sunglasses and handbags. A luxury shoe room (in addition to the main shoe department), plus substantial sunglasses, luxury bags and accessories department was created to satisfy this unique audience. An eye catching, signature, gold slatted wall incorporating shoe displays, sets off the top brands and takes centre stage. Similarly, menswear is much smaller than in the UK due to the prevalence of traditional dress. The younger clientele aspire to a much more formal and glamorous style; no funky, street divas in this corner of the globe. Due to a high level of discretion demanded by Muslim beliefs, lingerie is displayed within an intimate space to allow a high degree of privacy for the female shopper. Additionally, private beauty rooms are provided within the beauty hall as no make-up is allowed in public view.

The major changes from the UK shopfit scheme are the addition of brass fixtures and fittings, where chrome would suffice in the UK. The overall colour palette is warm white and black, rather than conventional black and white. Contemporary patterns having Arabic references can be seen throughout the store and behind the cashier counters. These decorative details bring glamour and adventure to this Middle Eastern masterpiece. The lighting also has a touch of glamour; fittings are in brass laminate for extra sheen. A gold ceiling on the top floor, which epitomises this rich opulence, completes the look. High above the central atrium and bank of escalators linking all levels, a myriad of patterns are reflected around the store when the light shines on the ceiling.

KKD has created a unique style for this Asian flagship store. It is grounded by its core House of Fraser sophistication with plenty of space and light throughout and enhanced with the flavour of Arabia. A great looking store!

Images courtesy of Mandolin Media.

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