A number of boutiques have mushroomed in Cairo recently, opening to much hype and promotional fare on Facebook. Of these shops (three within the last month on the small island of Zamalek), Ghazl Banat is the only one I found to have a sense of brand identity, selling interesting yet practical pieces at relatively reasonable prices.
Ghazl Banat boutique sits in a quiet Zamalek building with a view of the Nile. The apartment that serves as a boutique had started housing the already established local brand El Horreya in a room towards the back, while art exhibits are curated monthly exhibiting young local artists in another airy room designated as Studio 14.
The rest of the space now holds a select variety of jeans, shoes, casual wear, accessories and cocktail attire by emerging trendy brands popular both abroad and with Hollywood stars. The boutique’s collection has been chosen by owners Meram Maafa and Farida Hamza, two young women with obvious good taste.
Sienna Miller’s hugely popular brand Twenty-Eight Twelve is carried, as are brands Eye Doll, Charlie, Gram and Spenser, JWLA, Rich and Skinny, Splendid T-Shirts, and Griffin NY amongst others.
Prices start at LE 450 for a shirt by Twenty-Eight Twelve and nothing exceeds a LE 3,250 evening dress. Maafa explains that it was intentional to keep things priced as reasonably as possible.
But reasonable is of course relative from one shopper to the next, but in comparison to other boutiques that carry brands, Ghazl Banat is within closer reach to most young girls.
While shopping one afternoon, I found practical one-piece swimsuits by Colombian designer Ondademar, great studded belts by a Florentine leather goods designer by the name of Riccardo Forcini, and jelly sandals made for the little girl inside all grown women by Melissa Odabash — some of them are even scented of bubblegum and strawberries.
Not only did I enjoy the relaxed experience of shopping in a store tucked discreetly away in Zamalek, but the taste is very hip and treads between being edgy but still somehow youthful and casual.
Ghazl Banat Boutique: 14 Montazah St., First Floor, Zamalek, Cairo.