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6th of October City, Cairo, Egypt.
Stradivarius: Latest Women’s Wear Trends at Mall of Arabia
The recently opened Mall of Arabia has brought some of the biggest shops and brands in Egypt to this side of town, instead of being exclusively located in Citystars in Heliopolis. Stradivarius is a prime example; as one of the most popular women’s wear shops in Citystars, it became one of the first big names to open in Mall of Arabia.
As expected, the shop’s neatness showcases its collections for the chic and modern clothes that they are. Prices here are not cheap, but they are far from being the most expensive. Stradivarius’s general style doesn’t differ too much to that of better known chains such as Bershka or Pull and Bear, but it more than holds its own against this competition. In this reviewer's opinion, it has a wider range of styles and sizes and it is also more modest in style and price.
The employees at Stradivarius generally mind their own business, and don’t try and play personal stylists like so many others. That doesn’t mean they’re too lax, though; feel free to ask for other sizes, and a staff member will happily check for you. You’re also free to walk in and out of the dressing room without the awkwardness of being asked by the attendant if the items were ok, and having to admit that you need a bigger size.
What’s great about Stradivarius is that it often has items that you might not find anywhere else in Cairo. For example, we found nice stirruped leggings (leggings with foot straps) in black and grey in large sizes for 169LE. The material was thicker than other leggings and would be suitable for the coming winter. Other items that caught this reviewer’s eye included a denim shirt (229LE). Overall, the shirts and blouses range from 90LE all the way up to 349LE.
A large range of t-shirts is available in both elaborate and simple designs, in short and long sleeves too. They range in price from 99LE to 299LE. This reviewer was particularly fond of the summer jackets. Available in several colours, the light and plain long-sleeved jackets all cost 99LE at the time of our visit.
As we mentioned, the prices here aren’t cheap, but this is the type of shop that you would occasionally buy something from anyway. Stradivarius is as much at the forefront of trends as any other chain in Cairo.
Even with today’s economic climate, young entrepreneurs continue to venture, opening restaurants, cafes and shops in Cairo. There seems to be never-ending options when it comes to women’s clothing outlets, though many shops seem to spew out the same stuff, leaving little variety in the market.
Well hidden on Mohamed Mazhar Street in Zamalek, Pepper Closet supplies local fashionistas with hand-picked items from a wide range of local and international brands. The boutique occupies a small, organised space and resembles a girly walk-in closet. The merchandise is sourced from both high-street and designer labels and is sold for a fraction of the original price.
The young owner, May Ezz El Din, knows her fashion and is incredibly welcoming; she readily offered to help pick out our perfect outfit and gave her honest opinion during the lengthy trying-on process. Noticing one of the dresses didn't fit quite right, Ezz El Din happily and helpfully recommended a tailor that could fix it up for us.
Each section is very precisely organised, and as we began wading our way through the brimming, colourful clothes rails, we spotted some familiar high-street names, as well as some Parisian brands, the majority of which are unavailable in Egypt. Summer-perfect sheer tops in a range of colours, prints and designs ranged from 110LE to 250LE, whilst neon lace t-shirts by Vila were priced at 220LE. We spotted an Asos sheer cream top adorned with tiny gold skulls for 250LE and a black tank top with chain detailing around the neckline for 180LE. Button-up Atmosphere blouses were 120LE and a pretty, coral cardigan from Bandolera was 250LE.
To complete your top choice, we spotted a shelf neatly stacked with a range of different jeans, leggings and comfy haram pants, including a pair of black and white, striped skinny jeans from Miss Anna (150LE).
Moving to the day dress rail, we found that many of the items could be dressed either up or down depending on the occasion. Maxi, midi and short dresses were aplenty, and were available in a rainbow of colours and materials. We fell for a white Karen Millen sun dress (780LE), which was originally retailing for 1700LE.
If you’re looking for the perfect evening dress, Pepper Closet could be the place to visit. The items start at from as little as 250LE, so you can look a million dollars for just a few LE. Sequin dresses were priced at 450LE whilst an expensive looking, little black dress from Andrea Jovine surprised us at 350LE. As expected, the prices increase depending on their brand name. A long, stunning, emerald green La Blanca dress was being sold at a reduced price of 1700LE (RRP 3000LE). An original black Hervé Léger bandage dress with gold detailing on the front would usually cost 4000LE, but was being sold at 2500LE.
There are numerous shoes and sandals (110LE-180LE+), silk scarves (40LE), sun hats (100LE), swimwear (150LE+), handbags (250LE+), purses and vibrant jewellery items (60LE+) to choose from; some of the top designer handbags have been pre-owned, although you could never tell. A limited edition D&G handbag was priced at 5000LE, while a pair of Christian Dior heels were 1400LE. Some items are also sourced from up-market and unique local designers, including Dokan Baladi, Aya Deena and Dalia Hafez.
The items at Pepper Closet vary greatly, and are often just one-offs; so, not only is there something for everyone and every budget, but you needn’t worry too much about someone else wearing the same thing.