When Mall of the Emirates first opened in 2005, its combination of high-street favourites and luxury stores soon made it the go-to place for discerning shoppers. Bringing together designer labels such as Louis Vuitton, D&G and Gucci, its ski-sloped roof also housed the UAE's first Harvey Nichols. Livelier than Wafi, bigger than Emirates Towers and altogether more convenient than Burjuman, Mall of the Emirates had it all - even a friendly acronym.
And then along came Dubai Mall. In 2008, Dubai Mall's Fashion Avenue swaggered into Downtown like a more extravagant, better-dressed younger brother, snatching away MoE's fashion crown in the process, as well as scores of high-end brands. The Fashion Avenue brought department stores such as Bloomingdale's and Galeries Lafayette to the UAE for the first time. But tomorrow, Mall of the Emirates will attempt to regain the designer-heeled footfall it lost to Fashion Avenue with its new extension, the Fashion Dome. With more than 30 luxury fashion outlets, 20 of which are new to the mall, the piazza-style Fashion Dome promises a return to the exclusive shopping experience it used to monopolise.
Critics of Dubai Mall find the centre's scale unmanageable, complaining that while the choice is incomparable, endless walking is required to get to your shop of choice, and that's provided you can weave your way through the hordes of aquarium visitors or drag yourself past the cavernous candy stores. Whole afternoons disappear in a haze of escalators and corridors. Mall of the Emirates is countering this by expanding only to improve label selection, rather than simply to enlarge size. Shops include new outlets from the local favourite Boutique 1, as well as the likes of Versace, Dior and Galliano.
Others, such as Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior and Gucci, will expand from their current Mall of the Emirates locations to bigger premises within the new Fashion Dome. The list of retailers reads like an accessory obsessive's dream: Mulberry, Bottega Veneta, Christian Louboutin. Yes, Christian Louboutin: the first in the UAE. And if those names already have you reaching for your credit card, then steer well clear of the jewellery shops. Mall of the Emirates will now be adding the likes of Cartier and Audemars Piguet to its store directory.
For men, we find Dior Homme, Brioni and Canali, as well as the Urban Male Lounge, which joins the ranks of other male beauty salons here to provide manicures and grooming for Dubai's more dapper inhabitants. The mall has upped its dining options as well. Seven new restaurants are set to open in the extension, including Indian favourite Asha's, that most chic of French cafes Fauchon, and African-themed Tribes, as well as the Dubai staple More Café. To guide your first visit, we bring you our pick of the most exciting new shops at the Mall of the Emirates Fashion Dome.
Selling everything from Acne to Zac Posen, this high-end boutique's choice of designers and editorial eye for putting together outfits has made it a firm favourite. The Mall of the Emirates location joins existing Boutique 1 settings on The Walk and Mirdif Mall.
For the first time in the UAE, the collaboration between Adidas and the avant-garde Japanese designer Yohji Yamamato will now be available in a standalone store. After launching in spring 2003, the Y-3 line has become well-known for its edgy activewear and promises futuristic takes on tank tops and sports jackets.
Purveyor of the original wrap dress, Diane Von Furstenberg is the go-to brand for easy shapes, fluid fabrics and bright floral prints. Instant free-spirited glamour is pretty much guaranteed with one of her flowy frocks or vibrant tops.
With an outlet already at Wafi Mall, Galliano is revitalising its UAE presence at the Fashion Dome. A step away from the chic grandeur of the British designer's collections from Dior, Galliano offers all the theatricality and colour you could hope for, in exquisitely cut garments.
He opened in Beirut last month, but the first UAE boutique from the legendary designer Christian Louboutin is set to open in the Fashion Dome, where a selection of his classic suede platform pumps will be accented with some seriously glitzy high-heeled stompers, as well as men's footwear. These shoes aren't made for walking, but we love them.
The more casual younger sister of Chloé, See by Chloé has long been available in small quantities at boutiques like S*uce and Boutique 1, but is opening for the first time as a standalone shop in the Emirates. Think the fashion-forward shapes of Chloé with brighter colours, quirky details and a more fun-loving approach to fashion.
You don't get more va-va-voom glamorous than Versace, and this store will include an extensive selection of womenswear, menswear and accessories, especially notable for its signature no-holds-barred approach to embellishment and eveningwear.
Created by the French designer Sophie Albou, Paul & Joe is the place to go for punchy separates and day dresses with a very distinctive style that combines Parisian chic with eclectic styling, which makes shopping there a journey of discovery: you could pick up anything from a classic LBD to a fringed leather Western jacket.
Previously known for the skinny look of the former creative director Hedi Slimane, which reportedly prompted Karl Lagerfeld to lose weight so he could wear the drainpipe trousers and shrunken jackets, Dior Homme is now under the guidance of the highly talented Kris Van Assche, whose collections are rather more wearable, while still directional. Expect lots of black, clean minimalist lines and a rock 'n' roll edge.
With his own brand of all-American polish, Michael Kors's palette of golds and autumnal shades is always flattering, and his recent forays into sparkling, retro-inspired eveningwear have been spectacular. Following his recent opening in Mirdif City Centre, the Project Runway judge's arrival in MoE should create a whole new direction for Dubai's glitzy party-goers.