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'I got fed up': Deborah Latouche launches modestwear label at London Fashion Week

Sabirah: Beautifully Modest features occasion wear made with luxurious fabrics such as silks and fine cottons

Deborah Latouche, left, presented her debut modestwear collection at London Fashion Week 2020. Photo: Asia Werbel
Deborah Latouche, left, presented her debut modestwear collection at London Fashion Week 2020. Photo: Asia Werbel

When Deborah Latouche converted to Islam 14 years ago, she struggled with what to wear. “As someone who works in fashion, I’ve always found it difficult to find clothes I liked and that were still in keeping with my religion,” she tells The National at London Fashion Week.

“I got fed up with having to wear a long-sleeved top underneath a short-sleeved dress, or a dress not quite being long enough so having to wear leggings.”

The British-born stylist’s frustration with the lack of options inspired her to return to her first love: design. After 15 years of working in the industry, Latouche launched her own modest womenswear collection on February 15, at London Fashion Week.

A graduate of the London College of Fashion, she honed her creativity at Fabrica, the fashion think tank founded by Italian businessman and co-founder of the Benetton Group, Luciano Benetton, in the Italian city of Treviso. It was there that Latouche became a “fashion polymath”.

“Fabrica was very much of the ilk that creativity is creativity, and if you’re creative in one realm, you can move into many different spheres,” she explains. “I got into styling, print design and illustration. I’ve even made jewellery.”

Latouche is probably best known for her work as a stylist – her celebrity clients include Sophie Turner, Naomie Harris and Martin Freeman – and as a journalist. A former menswear editor for Phoenix magazine, she currently works as the UK corresponding editor for Italian Elle and has her own column, LovedByLatouche.

Her debut collection, Sabirah: Beautifully Modest, features occasion wear made with luxurious fabrics such as silks and fine cottons. “Sabirah is my Islamic name, and it means patience. I think that is reflective of the fact it’s taken me so many years to get back into design.”

Looks from Deborah Latouche modestwear collection at London Fashion Week. Photo: Asia Werbel
Looks from Deborah Latouche's modestwear collection. Photo: Asia Werbel

Colour is important to Latouche, she says, and this is evident in the collection, which encompasses shimmering long-sleeve dresses, delicate petal-sleeved tops and voluminous skirts in deep aubergine, generous gold and delicate rose pink. “I really love colour. Although I wear a lot of black, my favourite colour is pink,” she says. “And even though the collection is autumn / winter, I wanted it to be colourful and full of joy.”

Latouche admits her collection will be priced for women “with a bit of money”. But as consumers gradually wake up to the damage caused by throwaway fashion, she hopes the purchase will be seen as more of an investment. Sustainability might be a buzzword in the industry at the moment, but it’s a philosophy that Latouche has always lived by. “I prefer to buy a high-end brand because it has greater longevity, but I also love vintage and a car-boot sale. I buy stuff that I like and I wear it until it falls apart.”

Latouche is committed to limiting her brand’s impact on the environment. In that vein, she has sourced most of the material for her collection from her home city of London, choosing luxury deadstock fabrics and using highly skilled local seamstresses.

“It works out more expensive, but it makes me feel a lot better about what I’m producing,” she says. “Even down to the buttons. Some items have odd buttons on them because I’ve only been able to source one of those buttons.”

This, however, allows for more individuality in the pieces. Latouche wants buyers to come to her and have their clothing made bespoke. She hopes her occasion wear will appeal to those women who have been neglected by the fashion industry for too long.

“Things are changing. As a stylist, I’ve seen modelling agencies have curve sections where there are girls with a fuller figure. It is also great to see much more inclusivity in terms of race. For me, that’s a fantastic thing being a woman of colour,” she says. “But I just don’t want it to be a fad in terms of size or colour. It needs to be an industry standard.”

As a London Fashion Week regular, Latouche feels now is the right time to be introducing her collection. “I hope whether you wear modest fashion or not, you buy it just because you like it,” she says. “I want people wearing my collection to feel proud of who they are and beautiful in their skin.”

Updated: February 19, 2020 07:51 PM

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