BB: And how exactly do you work with clients now?
Nafisa Tosh: I have a small studio and private clients who I design and make for, which is really creative. I work directly with them, so choosing the design to suit the occasion, the fabrics, so they're completely exclusive to the client. In the past, I've worked for designers such as Alexander McQueen, Chanel, Jasper Conran, Elizabeth Emanuel, Antonio Berardi, Giles Deacon, Christopher Kane, Amanda Wakeley, Eley Kishimoto, and Preen.
I've been working in London since the mid-'90s, and it's changed considerably. When I go in and work for a designer for London Fashion Week or Paris Fashion Week, I go in about three months before a collection and work in-house, so I'm part of the team in the run-up to the show. Sometimes you work directly with the designer on a particular sketch. I specialize in heavy construction, so lots of corseting, lots of attention to detail. I'm quite a patient person, and I actually really enjoy very fiddly design with technical cutting.
When I'm working in-house with a designer, usually the designer works out who's good at bias, or corsetry, or tailoring, so on and so forth, and then they'll give each sample machinists a set of sketches. So you'll get about four or five showpieces to make for the collection tailored to your experience and what you're good at.
With my private clients, they'll either have a ball or an occasion to go to- so they might want a dress with a train, or they might want a easy-to-wear winter coat, for example. I'll source fabrics, I'll create a mood board, and that's how it all starts.