x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

By Appointment - Abu Dhabi’s exclusive personal-shopper service

Want to meet a celebrity or get the latest sold-out Chanel bag? By Appointment, Abu Dhabi's exclusive personal shopper service, can make it happen, for a price.

By Appointment can set up meetings with celebrities such as Rihanna and others, especially those who visit the UAE. Christopher Pike / The National
By Appointment can set up meetings with celebrities such as Rihanna and others, especially those who visit the UAE. Christopher Pike / The National

If you’re hankering after a rare Hermès bag, vintage Cartier watch or want a private audience with Justin Timberlake, Sara Khan, the founder of Abu Dhabi’s new concierge service, By Appointment, may well be the person to get in touch with. We find out more.

What prompted you to open the business in the lobby of the ­Emirates Palace hotel?

I had worked in luxury retail in Abu Dhabi for about 12 years, in-house with Christian Dior, Stéphane Rolland and Van Cleef & Arpels. I set up the service in Abu Dhabi not only because it’s hard to find – there are many stylists and personal shoppers in Dubai but they are not common in the capital – but also because I wanted to offer a service across many brands, not just one. It’s also my passion; I love to shop for clients.

Who are your clients?

We currently have around 50 and they are predominantly conservative Emirati families. We work a great deal with the royal families of Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and Dubai, whom I’ve known for more than a decade. Our clients prefer to remain anonymous and might face challenges when shopping in public or don’t want to be seen to favour one boutique over another, et cetera. So, we go to the palaces, their homes or arrange private appointments in boutiques. Equally, a brand might be hosting a private event and want to have a certain high-net worth client attend; we can also make that happen.

Is there a minimum spend?

Around Dh30,000, and items might include a pair of limited-edition designer shoes starting from Dh15,000, for example. We don’t charge by the hour like a personal shopper. We’ll source specific products globally and bring them to one location for clients.

What are some unusual requests you’ve had?

The first lady of a West African nation wanted us to purchase an Hermès Birkin bag embellished with diamonds. A gentleman client wanted a limited-edition Ferrari office chair, while another lady requested front-row seats for Paris Haute Couture Week. Others have requested special-edition designer watches for National Day from Hublot to Dior and Rolex. There are jewellery commissions, too, where a house designed a one-off piece, and we’ll have it recreated. Equally, our client could be a young boy looking for a pair of limited-edition sneakers that has sold out here.

Who’s the top trending designer right now?

For haute couture, Stéphane Rolland is really up there for the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Zuhair Murad is also very popular at the moment. In terms of accessories, Chanel is doing extremely well in the region and it’s very hard to find a product in the current collection. We, therefore, pre-book them in advance. People are requesting classic crocodile handbags and the iPhone case in alligator skin, which has sold out everywhere. We’ve also had hundreds of requests for Chanel’s espadrilles, graffiti backpacks and boy flap bags.

How much do meet-and-greets with celebrities cost?

With Rihanna and Jay Z, the client requests tied in with their UAE concerts and it was ultimately the artist who decided the price. An average might be US$10,000 to $40,000 (Dh36,700 to Dh147,000). Some A-listers are flexible with their time and might agree to lunch on a yacht, coffee, signings and having pictures taken with the family. Others performers are not. For example, the Fast & Furious stars visited the UAE recently and some demanded a certain rate for a short period of time, saying, “that’s just what I get paid, it’s just business. Ten minutes and I’m out”.

Find By Appointment on Instagram at ByAppointmentUAE or call 02 690 8938

rduane@thenational.ae