Could you tell us a bit about yourselves?
Sara: I graduated in Italy in Fashion Design – in fact, I have always worked in a fashion environment. I have worked in many aspects, such as: designer, stylist, events manager, etc. I came to London because it’s very cosmopolitan and I think it’s a very good place to experiment with different kinds of fashion design – I think that you’re very free here. You can be inspired by a lot of new designers.
Nathalie: It was a few years ago than my husband and I founded Tanguito, an Argentine tango school situated in Islington; with the idea to provide people with an experience as close to Buenos Aires as possible. We realised whilst out in Buenos Aires that teachers didn’t talk about the music or culture; milongas, etc; because the natives had grown up with it. So we worked really hard to put together a teaching methodology that encapsulates all that was left unsaid and unexplained, so that we could engage with the original tango culture and bring it intact to the UK. It is this profound and amazing culture that we try our best to portray to our students.
Why did you decide to introduce a clothing range to Tanguito?
Sara: I think it’s a wonderful way to fuse two different kinds of arts; dancing and fashion, and I feel that clothing helps to express the soul of this special genre of dance – tango.
Nathalie: When I was a child I used to design my own clothes with my mother so I’ve always had an interest in fashion design. When I started tango, I started to look for clothes and struggled to find something appropriate for dancing. I wanted more feminine clothes, but was not fond of these models that are more belts than skirts. I started buying simple skirts and customising them with accessories – I received encouraging feedback from people at milongas out of the blue, asking where I had bought them. So this sparked the idea of starting a clothing line, for tango dancers, with customisable clothes.
Where/how are the clothes being sold?
Nathalie: At milongas, at Tanguito and on our website.
Who is your primary targeted audience?
Sara: Normal women, really! Especially those passionate about tango, latin or ballroom dances as it allows them to be able to dance not just in the dress, but with the dress and be unique, different.
Nathalie: All tango dancers. We’re designing the clothes with everyone in mind as we found from our classes that tango attracts a variety of people from 20 to 80! Women don’t just wear clothes. They select their clothing as an extension of their personality and as a means of self-expression. We want the clothes to make everybody look and feel beautiful.
When are you hoping to launch?
Sara: Hopefully in September/October!
Nathalie: Yes, in October.
What are the main stages involved in designing the clothes?
Sara: Basically you start from a mood board – when you brainstorm and put ideas together, and try to make sense of the collection. Then, you have the sketching part where there needs to be great detail including measurements. Then there is pattern designing, again in detail, followed by pattern making and the prototypes. Finally you hand it over to the factory. We wanted everything to be done in the UK, from fabrics to the factories and freelancers working on the clothes, so we spent time looking for the materials and partners we needed. I think it was well worth the time.
Nathalie: Looking at what women were wearing at milongas was the first step for me. Recognising flaws, for example: when a skirt is too long, you can get your heel caught; other outfits being too restrictive especially when dissociating, or some dresses being just too… ‘hot’. I used milongas to recognise what people enjoyed wearing the most. The idea for the first collection is about contrasts – for example,showing and hiding. Sexy and feminine isn’t about putting everything on display, it is more about teasing. I showed Sara some of my drawings and based on these, we brainstormed together. We also visited museums and libraries to get inspiration. And fabrics we have found are an important source of inspiration: we wanted fabrics that were also wearable during the day before the milongas or classes, because most dancers have no time to go home to change, so we thought: “wouldn’t it be nice if they could wear the skirt in the office, and then simply customise it for their tango dancing at night?”. This drove a lot of thinking when we were at planning stage.