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The Upper East Side saw a taste of the Middle East on Tuesday evening. Claire Distenfeld, along with Indre Rockefeller, Anya Ziourova and Natalya Poniatowski, hosted a cocktail party in Distenfeld’s boutique Fivestory to celebrate the U.S. arrival of Dubai-based brand Madiyah Al Sharqi. The line is exclusive to Fivestory, and is the uptown retailer’s first Middle Eastern label.

The party featured an exclusive first go at shopping the collection, for guests including Bettina Prentice, Nasiba Adilova, Zani Gugelmann and Leandra Medine, as well as a private viewing of the custom ready-to-wear line’s spring 2016 collection, ahead of its presentation at New York Fashion Week in September.

The line is designed by HRH Madiyah Al Sharqi, who was introduced to custom design growing up by her family’s tailor. The brand is well-established in the Middle East with a dozen retailers carrying it across the region, and Al Sharqi was buzzing with excitement over tackling the New York customer. “It will be interesting for me to see what works well here,” she said. “I thought the color would be so hard, but what I’m learning is New York women do like color. In Europe and America, separates do well, as opposed to dresses, so it’s a good challenge for me.”

A musician plucked on an oud as guests sipped hot mint tea (along with rosé, of course) and browsed the racks of lace and silk pieces in delicate shades of blush, eggshell and lavender.

“What I love about the Middle Eastern customer is that they are joie de vivre, they love to dress up. The customer loves to love, the bigger the better,” Distenfeld said of her newest venture. “We’ve been doing phenomenally with the line, and I think it’s because people come in and feel that it’s different. I’ve sold black-tie dresses that people are literally going to wear to breakfast.”

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