DUBAI — The first few days after opening the doors in Dubai Mall, Maria Tash’s flagship boutique in the Middle East was bombarded by clients looking to style their ears. The fine jewelry designer and celebrity piercing expert’s 2,100-square-foot luxury destination is the Middle East’s first permanent piercing boutique. And clients responded with excitement.
Tash said Dubai was a natural place to land for the brand with its first stand-alone boutique outside of the U.S. “It’s such an attractive place in general, a mesh of different types of people. I’ve been several times and we did three pop-ups in the region in 2016 and 2017 in Dubai and Kuwait. The response was great.” In the Islamic countries of the region where tattoos are not considered religiously appropriate, piercing offers women an alternative way to express themselves.
Tash, well-known for her celebrity following including Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Moss, Julianne Moore, Charlize Theron and Scarlett Johansson, has modernized and elevated piercing jewelry through her innovative designs and delicate, refined aesthetic.
The store was carefully designed to offer a high level of customer service with four custom piercing rooms and a VIP lounge. She has developed a technique through which each client’s personal style, complexion and anatomy guide a bespoke combination of studs and rings, combined to best flatter the wearer’s ears. “The store is a new concept where we have dedicated styling counters and a private room so that people can sit down, and we can hold the earrings up to them in different ways to see how it will all look together.”
She added that privacy in the Middle East for clients that are covered is very important. “We know some people want to take their hijab off in private, so we have the VIP room available as well.”
Tash said she has been able to be more experimental with her designs in the region. “It’s a region where I can put more showpieces out and test the response.
“During our pop-ups, I was struck by the freedom of how clients responded to my jewelry, which gave me a freedom to design different things and work with different, bigger stones.”
She added her lotus designs and marquis and pear-shaped stones are very poplar with clients in the Middle East. “They also like movement and dangles, pear dangles or marquis in the form of charms.”
Tash, who is of Armenian descent, feels a sense of kinship in the region. Her grandmother escaped the genocide through Lebanon before eventually coming to the U.S. “Clients here buy what I would wear; I personally love it. I create certain things I would wear myself and I have no fear of putting them in the Middle East, knowing they would sell. Certain pieces like that can take a while to catch on in New York or London.”
Tash came into the Middle East independently without any retail partners. She said this allows for more control over the entire experience, saying that the training of staff especially is critical for the brand. Her teams of expert piercers from around the world are in Dubai now working with clients. “I am proud the way it turned out. We want to keep our identity.”
Tash plans to open her next boutique in Los Angeles and hopes to have more locations in the Middle East.