Dubai abounds in glamourous haunts, and a new one for the fashion-savvy, symbolising quintessential femininity is set to open its doors at the Palm Strip Mall in Jumeirah on April 24. 'Aster Couture', a new outlet, which has enjoyed a presence in the UK for nearly a decade, ...

By Anupama V. Chand

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Published: Tue 20 Apr 2004, 4:30 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 12:32 AM

will offer its customers an exquisite blend of casual and evening wear, and is essentially catering to an upper-end clientele, who appreciate the value of fine fashion, and are not entirely price-bound.

"I have always been interested in clothes, colours and looking as good as I could, even as a little girl, I always knew what I wanted," chuckles Aster Dessalgen, the elegant 32-year-old business Ethiopian born, UK citizen and entrepreneur, who is the brain behind Aster Couture. She saw the realisation of the dream in her boutique on Edgeware Road in London. She adds laughingly that she was always knitting and embroidering spare clothes around the house, and experimenting her efforts on her mother and younger sister.

A graduate from the London College of Fashion, she first started out by giving ideas for wedding dresses to friends, and working on theatre costumes for drama companies in the UK, at her chic West End boutique.

"I had a factory there and took orders, with several of the clothes being custom-made to suit individual client preferences. Subsequently, as business expanded, I toured the Middle East region, which still has considerable potential, being a largely untapped market. Some four years ago, I came to the UAE and Kuwait, with several international names like Aroushi and Damas, and have been in and out of Dubai, several times since," she says, expressing amazement at the rapid pace of progress maintained by this commercial capital of the UAE.

"My customers have always been a mix of European, Lebanese, Sudanese, Indian, and I have given them the option of bringing me their own material and allowing me to design the dress for them, or suggesting the material and working with it to the finish," said Aster, who plans to have a small factory attached to her Dubai outlet, where clothes could be made to order.

She noted that although she would focus on her Middle East and GCC customers in this region, her clothes were really for every woman, as they could be tailored to suit virtually anyone.

"I will also be supplying bigger stores and trying to secure franchises from big labels and interior design companies to supply curtains, cushions and upholstery designs," said the versatile designer.

Simple and elegant in cut, Aster's fashions will feature a rich mix of chiffons and organzas in subtle and vibrant hues, with beautifully hand-worked embroidery, sequins and layered patchwork.

Ask this entrepreneur who her inspirations are from the international designer world, and she is likely to rebut: "I am my own inspiration! I make clothes that I like, that my customers want and that are contemporary."

She will showcase evening gowns from Paris, Italy and the UK, as well as shoes, bags, and accessories. Aster is also aspiring to start her very own shoe shop in the recent future, which will again feature designer, custom-made footwear, and on a more altruistic note, a school for the mentally challenged and physically handicapped children, afflicted by diseases like cerebral palsy.

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