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For the love of fashion.

In a city of plenty EoAC" plenty of fashion labels, that is EoAC" one Dubai entrepreneur says she's found a niche. And she's hoping her latest venture will mark her foray into international markets.

Sarah Belhasa, the woman behind Studio 8 boutique in Dubai, is bringing the I Love Fashion store concept to the UAE. Scheduled to open at The Dubai Mall after Ramadan, the concept of the store is owned by Polish-born entrepreneur Michel Adam Lisowski, the man behind the Fashion TV (FTV) brand.

"It's going to be the first FTV store in the region. It will be one of a kind," says Belhasa. "I want it to be different, nothing like people here have seen before. I want it to be luxurious and grand."

Belhasa is no stranger to fashion. Besides serving as an adviser to a number of local fashion bodies, her Studio 8 store, which opened two years ago, has introduced some of the most high-profile Asian and Arab designers to the UAE.

She also serves as the Vice-Chairman of Saif Belhasa Group of Companies, headed by her husband, Saif Ahmad Belhasa, with a portfolio of more than 20 other businesses.

"I recently visited the store in China and loved the whole concept. I thought it suited Dubai perfectly," she says, explaining how the idea for the store came about. "I already had Studio 8, which catered to the high-end segment and the FTV store I thought would be more reasonably priced.

"When I returned to Dubai, I got busy with other things. Then, a few months later, Saif surprised me by telling me he'd already got us the deal."

Last month, the Belhasas travelled to France to meet with Lisowski and sealed the deal on the sidelines of the Cannes Film Festival.

Lisowski, who first made a name for himself with the internationally available 24-hour FTV channels, has expanded the brand to include bars, clubs, events, and most recently, the stores. He's also reportedly just signed a deal with the Dubai-based Al Habtoor group to build the first ever FTV hotel in the city.

EoACAyFull collections'

"Like I created Fashion TV as the first and unique channel dedicated to fashion, beauty and lifestyle, I have created I Love Fashion retail stores dedicated to bringing the glamour and the lifestyle of the catwalk to you in an affordable way. We know this is going to be a huge success in MENA [Middle East and North Africa] and we are very pleased to partner with Saif and Sara Belhasa who know the market well and understand the consumer and the fashion needs," he said in a release recently.

Belhasa says she has many plans for the store to make it unique.

"We're going to have full collections, from accessories to evening dresses to swimwear EoAC" everything, with lots of bling," she says. "Prices will start from Dh300, with designs coming from in-house FTV designers from around the world. We will have FTV showing all the time and the logo everywhere, which everyone already recognises.

"I have also spoken to Michel about introducing capsule collections from designers such as Roberto Cavalli, his good friend.

"Another thing I want to do is to introduce high-profile fashion events," she adds. "I don't think brands in Dubai, especially the luxury brands, are doing much. Because of the competition, we need to keep doing something to keep up."

Once the Dubai store, for which preparations have already begun, is up and running, Belhasa says she wants to expand.

"I would like to take it to Abu Dhabi, then Saudi, Kuwait and Qatar. I want this to be my vehicle to go truly international, since we own the Middle Eastern rights," she says.

Deeply involved with the many businesses she manages, Belhasa says she will be hands-on with the FTV store.

"We have everything from travel to construction and restaurants. So hopefully this will take the group to the next level."

The store might just also see her trying her hands at designing, she says.

"I think I have been in the industry long enough to understand exactly what the market wants," she teases. "So maybe this will be where the first Sarah Belhasa collection will make its debut."

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:7UNIT
Date:Jun 9, 2011
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