if economic development were to be measured by luxury malls, then kazakhstan has quantum leaped forward into the modern era of omnipresent designer brands. we're talking the opening of the massive esentai mall earlier this month in the former capital city of almaty. an integral part of esentai park, an expansive upscale mixed-use complex designed by architecture practice skidmore, owings & merrill, the mall covers an area of no less than 52,000 sqm. [559,723 sq.ft.] and is an unprecedented retail statement with many firsts in all of central asia. the country's accumulated riches - derived from vast oil and gas reserves - have in turn created an elite who obviously require an infrastructure that suits their lavish lifestyle.
esentai mall's anchor tenant is saks fifth avenue which occupies 10,000 sqm. [107,639 sqm.] of retail space. the american department store carries the latest fashion collections for men, women and children’s clothing, shoes and handbags. the mall features 160 luxury and mid-range brands, including louis vuitton, gucci, stella mccartney, burberry and marni. the luxury shop list is still expanding, with store openings planned by dior and prada. the opening party was a glitzy affair that pulled 600 guests, and who witnessed fireworks and a fashion show while sipping a glass of bubbly. location: prospekt al-farabi 77/7 [gorniy gigant].