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As seen in WWD, written by Thomas Waller

WWD Article

Known for her accessories and handbag line Thale Blanc, Bombay born designer Deborah Sawaf is expanding her world with the addition of a ready-to-wear collection, Statements by Deborah Sawaf.

The designer hosted a private appointment last month in New York to preview her new fall collection to a few editors, and was planning a larger launch event before the coronavirus outbreak took hold of New York. Thinking ahead, she was lucky to shoot the collection in Los Angeles, her home base, before social distancing and working remotely became the new normal.

Her inaugural offering is tightly edited, but she explained it was important for her to touch all the parts of her woman’s life - creating pieces for day, the workplace, outerwear and a few evening options.

“I wanted to create clothes that make women feel empowered and made people feel special,” Sawaf said.

“It’s what she would wear to drop her kids off to school, then she goes to work, and later on she might need a cocktail outfit,” she said, explaining that she really thought about real life situations as a guide.

While her aim is to create wardrobe staples, she used strong accents like fringe, asymmetrical hems and ribbon details with a logo, explaining that she wanted “pieces that have something about them that is special, hence the “Statements.”

Sawaf, who last year took the reins as chief operating officer of her brand, isn’t a stranger to rtw, having spent time at Valentino and Gianfranco Ferre. Before launching Thale Blanc with jewelry and handbags. She sees the collection as a return to her fashion roots, adding, “many might have thought the natural transition from bags would have been shoes,” she quipped, “but for me, the next step is seeing a whole look, and that means clothing.”

Pieces range from $295, for a long-sleeve T-shirt, and topping out around $2,000, for leather outerwear and evening pieces, and she predicts her sweet spot will land between $495 and $695 where many of her separates sit.

Sawaf made her name with handbags using exotics and Italian leathers, and in that vein, fabrication plays a part with her rtw, too, using rich leathers throughout and incorporating eco-friendly materials made from recycled plastics and organic fabrics.

On the handbag front, Sawaf is launching a few vegan leather styles, in a bucket shape, handwoven in Italy. Each will sit alongside her exotics and leather offering, being part of the same Thale Blanc family.

Sawaf operates her own brick-and-mortar store in Los Angeles, where she will carry both the rtw and accessories collections and says she has interest in showrooms in New york, L.A. and London to handle sales for the rtw. As she was able to create assets pre-pandemic, she is moving forward using detailed digital imagery with virtual presentation style as a way to connect with buyers. The same images will eventually stream on her web site and social channels to help tell her brand’s story to her customer.

“Everything is virtual and online now,” she said. “It takes a bit more effect, but we shot it a way as to see all the detail of product and with the feel of a fashion show.”

“People are working harder and faster, and thinking out of the box to figure out how to get over this hump,” said the designer, who is self-isolating with family in L.A. and determined to carry on once the world slowly shifts back to shopping for luxury goods. “And I’m ready to create the house of Thale Blanc,” she said.