Ever since childhood, Fashion enthusiast Tatiana Fayad has developed a fondness for art making. Inspired from “watching her grandmother sew her clothes” and “travelling around Europe with her mother on fashion-buying trips”, Tatiana has become the next member in her family to enter the industry with a established mindset on what change she wants to make in the world of fashion. Sitting in the corner of ateliers and watching the behind the scenes, Tatiana decided that establishing “her own brand came as a natural evolution”.
Co-founded with her friend Joanne Hayek around 16 years ago in her hometown, Beirut, Tatiana started fashion label Vanina. “It all started very spontaneously, out of a common passion between us, a passion to create beauty out of everyday objects that we repurposed and transformed. We initially started with a jewellery line, and throughout the years the brand evolved and grew organically into a full-fledged fashion label distributed internationally at some of the world’s trendiest resellers such as Net A Porter, Farfetch, Selfridges and Ounass in the Middle East.”
Later in 2018 Tatiana created Nouvelle Vague. “I started this passion project back in 2018 with the idea being born from my love for vintage, and the desire to share that love with the people around me” stated Tatiana. “Being a vintage collector for many years, I was frustrated by the fact that I couldn’t shop for vintage items in Lebanon nor in the region, so I decided to follow my instinct and open the first vintage shop in Beirut.” Knowing it wasn’t going to be an easy task, with the market still being quite niche, she started to introduce vintage shopping to Beirut’s most savvy’s clientele. In parallel to opening her store, she launched an e-commerce website, aiming to become the main online vintage destination in the region. “Being a first-mover in my category, my mission for Nouvelle Vague is to democratize Vintage Fashion in the Middle East and make it a real alternative to Fast Fashion.”
Here is what Tatiana had to say on her fashion journey.
Fashion is a powerful tool we all embrace both consciously and unconsciously. It has a practical, social and emotional impact on individuals. Every piece we wear represents a personal choice. What does fashion mean to you?
To me, fashion serves many purposes. It is creative, enterprising and multifaceted, and it really has the ability to change and shape lives through its personal connection to us. As we all have to wear clothes, every piece of clothing we buy acts as a vehicle of conversation about our lives and values.
How do these fashion choices make you feel?
Fashion gives me a lot of confidence. I find it very empowering to be able to choose an outfit that resonates with who I am, and I guess that’s the main reason why I love fashion so much. It speaks for me when I cannot find the words.
I love that you see fashion as an instrument for conversation and behaviour. You have previously stated that “fashion can be a tool that offers opportunities for social and environmental change” and that “creating alternatives to the dynamics of the industry” can raise awareness and “positively influence active partaking regarding latent issues of our contemporary society.”
Why is it so important for you to actively take part in making a change in the industry? And has parenthood played a role in pushing forward your values?
Parenthood was definitely an eye-opener, and it actually made me realize the importance of having a voice. My educational motto with my kids is to ‘lead by example’ which means to always model doing my best, and do what I commit to doing while keeping aware of what I’m leaving behind.
It is very important to me to actively take part in making a change in the industry because I have all the resources at my disposal to do so. As young entrepreneurs working in the industry, we have the responsibility to turn a critical eye towards fashion, identify the places where it does harm and actively work on creating new ways and new narratives about fashion and production.
Like you, many Industry Moguls have become more outspoken on the issue of responsible consumerism and craftsmanship. Ms Wintour stated that “its time for all of us to pay attention more to craft and creativity and less on clothes beingly instantly disposable”.
What are your goals for Nouvelle Vague and VANINA? And how will they play an active role in changing what this industry stands for?
My goal with Vanina and Nouvelle Vague is to ultimately inspire conscious consumerism by proving that quality, sustainability and style can really go hand in hand.
With Vanina, my aim is to continue growing through a commitment to community and purpose by assuring the conservation of artisanal knowledge of my country, cultivating innovative craftsmanship and inspiring playful creativity. With Nouvelle Vague, my mission is to make vintage clothing inspiring and accessible by offering collection mixes that are trendy, wearable and unique. I’m always on the hunt for rare designer pieces and I want my shop to be the living proof that quality, affordability, sustainability and style can be a perfect match.
From Jean Paul Gaultier and Alaïa to Patchwork from the 90s, Fringe from the 80s and Capri Pants from the 2000s – all the iconic pieces on Nouvelle Vague are truly unique and precious. What does your sourcing process look like?
It’s a very personal, slow and carefully considered process, but I basically just go with my first instincts. I only source clothes that I would like to wear myself, while making sure to curate collections that are diverse, harmonious, eclectic and wearable.
Where do you come across these eccentric pieces?
I get my clothing from so many different sources and from all around the globe, but my favourite is sifting through the pieces of private vendors who come to me and trust me to find their beloved treasures and a new life. The satisfaction of taking something that is no longer loved to the fullest and finding it a place to be adored is absolutely priceless.
You speak so passionately about this process. What about vintage attire is so significant to you?
There is something about my love for vintage that I cannot explain, but I think that it is linked to the fact that vintage attire has the ability to transcend many features such as design, quality, fit, and value for money. These are pieces that have travelled the world and ages, and putting my hands on them is like finding a lost treasure and exposing it to the world in all its rarity, craft and beauty; and uncovering all the story, mystique and magic it carries. It makes me travel through eras and wonders about the stories of the ladies who wore it and the intimate feelings it brought them.
It is clear that timeless style is a huge factor in your work. Like Coco Chanel once said, “Fashion fades; only style remains the same.” To become more sustainable, it is important to invest in timeless versatile pieces that reflect your personality and create a strong wardrobe. Being a model for mindful consumption, what are three ‘closet staples’ you believe make your wardrobe great?
Oh, I would definitely say a perfectly cut white t-shirt, a vintage leather duster, and a pair of cowboy boots with a little height for extra confidence!
The retail industry is greatly accountable for the growth of unsustainable consumer habits and mass production. Therefore, it is important for progressive ideas like sustainability and ethical production to be focal points for fashion consumers when buying. Your work is setting an example for others in the region. If you could give one piece of advice to organizations and individuals that contribute to the industry, what would it be?
I would tell them that it’s not easy to make overnight changes, and it all starts with baby steps. It’s a constant work in progress that never ends. They mustn’t be afraid of challenging their processes. I also think that we should make a shift around the narratives of sustainable purchases by making them more convenient and appealing.
I believe inspiration comes from anything, anyone, everywhere and nowhere. I’m interested to know what inspires your personal sense of style?
Being comfortable and in tune with how I feel inspires my personal style as I firmly believe that we look most beautiful when we’re at our most comfortable.
Those are very wise words! If you could raid one person’s closet, who would it be?
Definetley Cher – I am a huge fan. She’s the absolute style icon and I find it so impressive that after almost 6 decades of setting trends, her style still captivates us.
She’s an unequivocal fashion trailblazer and her impeccable fashion sense is just mind-blowing. Who wouldn’t love to raid her closet and witness some of her Bob Mackie’s glitter-adorned dresses and jumpsuits?