The wait is finally over; iconic Italian fashion houses Prada and Miu Miu have put down roots in the UAE as part of a joint-venture with partner Al Tayer Insignia. With a combined floor space of around 280 square meters at Dubai's Burjuman Shopping Centre, the labels' ready-to-wear collection bags, shoes and accessories are something to behold.
There's something about visiting the new Prada store in Saks Fifth Avenue that prompts better posture, head held higher - adds a saunter to the step, even.
After rounding the centre's many twists and turns, I finally spied the boutique's imposing black Marquina marbled façade, with its chromed trimmed window displays. In one, an exquisite pair of red suede Camoscio pumps.
Making my way across the freshly vacuumed carpet inside, I instantly regretted having worn a simple maxi dress and flip flops: it is a space, designed by architect Roberto Baciocchi, that has clearly dressed up for the occasion.
The flagship boutique for the Italian brand in the region - the first in the UAE, open from last week - was always going to make a statement. Its geometric interior with ceiling-high shelves of handbags and gleaming light-boxes filled with wallets and purses, had me wondering where to start.
In the end I made my way to a mirror-backed recess in which hung arguably the softest leather jackets known to man. From conventional black to bubblegum pink and sunset orange, these cropped designs took biker chic to a whole new level. Also making me wish it wasn't 40°C outside: double-faced cashmere coats trimmed in mink and belted winter jackets with luxuriously thick fox-fur tippets.
Then, there were gloves - lots and lots of them. Bicep-skimming, camel coloured suede ones with gold stud holes that felt like a second skin and the fingerless ones, that made me imagine taking the wheel of a convertible Alfa Romeo 8C Spider.
The gloves also extended to evening wear, with satin creations complementing the high-necked gowns on the mannequins dotted around the store. And because no girl is complete without a clutch this season, naturally Prada had one for every occasion including those heavily jewelled to match the embellished necklines of the floor-sweeping column evening dresses.
Having gazed googly-eyed at what felt like every item of the label's autumn/winter 2011 ready-to-wear collection, it was time to rest my weary bones and sink into one of store's plush lilac velvet sofas. As luck would have it, I found myself seated in front of a towering, multicoloured shoe display. And because it would have been rude not to - I let my feet purr inside some patent kitten heels and do a quick turn in some python calf length boots.
As I bid a fond arrivederci to Prada, it was time to take a hop, skip and a jump across the corridor and say buona sera to the fashion label's funky little sister Miu Miu. Another new addition to Saks, the stunning exterior with its brass studded damask and walls upholstered in gold brocade gave the boutique a warm and welcoming glow.
I found myself drawn trance-like to the dazzling, glinting shoe display to the right of the entrance. From Dorothy-in-The-Wizard-of-Oz-like chunky heeled pumps, to trainers and low-rise sneaker boots with metal toe caps: almost everything had been given the sequin treatment.
The collection was about full-on glamour and wonderfully unabashed in its celebration of all things sparkly. For the more conservative of tastes, Miu Miu had things covered by means of a stunning pair of midnight blue pumps with a token "Cinderella" Swarovski crystal heel.
The bags were equally intricate, continuing the fairytale theme in the method of display, they were perched on glass toadstools and mirrored shelves around the store.
The show-stopping accessories were the mink stoles. Colours ranged from warm honey to rich chocolate, with pelts fashioned into single loops finished off with a small bow detail.
Reminiscent of the unrivalled glamour of the 50s, furs were draped on the shoulders of fitted winter coats and even snugly wrapped around the hips of pencil skirts like cosy peplums. Daring to dream and imagining this versatile item having pride of place in my wardrobe - I searched in vain for a price tag. A friendly sales assistant came to the rescue and said the words I feared to hear : "Dh27,000".
My curiosity sated and hopes deflated, it was time to head for home. I had spent a wonderful evening in the finest Italian company, but had to admit, when it comes to designer clothes of any label - the adage undoubtedly rings true: if you have to ask the price, you probably can't afford it.