Your background is finance. Why the change to the fashion world?
I studied finance intensively both at the London School of Business and Finance and the Cambridge Judge Business School. I was always focused on investing in retail companies from within all my finance positions. While I was working in my family’s investment office, we started investigating private equity investments in fashion houses. At the same time I met my husband and we began to travel to Brazil. Always with a curiosity about the local retail environment wherever I travelled, I began to walk the malls of Rio. The designers that I found were phenomenal in style, quality and price. I wanted to have all these pieces that just did not exist in the UK. So I began to create a corporation to house the best of these designers, and to work out a structure to bring them to the UK, under Blaiz. That became our private equity retail investment.
What makes Latin American fashion unique?
Latin American designers have no limits and follow no rules. They embrace the female body and they want to show the woman at her best every time. They mix textures and colours that are truly unexpected and they aim to make eye-catching one-off but still wearable pieces every time. The climate inspires the colour palette and the energy inspires the design. Manufacturing is most often in-house and therefore quality controlled directly by the designers.
Different regions in each country in Latin America specialise in different garment production. For example Jacutinga, which is north of São Paulo, is the place for knitwear, and is where Cecilia Prado has its factories. The south of Brazil is strong in leather production due to its proximity with Argentina, and hence the Schutz Shoes factories there. The Colombian city Medellín is the capital of swimwear production, with expert machinery operating the most high-tech and stylish styles.
I believe that European fashion is restricted in many ways, and until very recently the key designers had very high prices and were a little too safe. Recently there has been a rise of mid-priced new designers with fresh perspectives on fashion, which shows that there is an appetite not only for a lower price point but also for new designers.
What do you love most about the Marylebone and Chelsea stores and how do the customers differ? Is one store more popular with accessories, swimwear or clothing by comparison to the other?
The King’s Road boutique is our flagship store and houses our entire product range. It is a vast space to be explored and can take you to each country of Latin America as you discover a mix of textures, fabrics and interesting artefacts. Our customers are locals and visitors alike, with one common goal, to look different. They relish our one-off pieces and appreciate our nod to fashion with our eclectic offering of brands.
The Duke Street boutique is very visitor-driven; we attract clients from across the globe. It is a window into our selections, and we tend to house a tight edit of our strongest brands with a more fashion-forward approach. Accessories and knitwear tend to fly here and we have certain pieces, particularly our head-to-toe looks, that sell-out immediately.
Online we have a growing customer base, with the majority of our sales from UK and the Middle East.
How would you describe your personal style?
I believe in always being feminine and I dress to suit my mood most of the time. I am not afraid of colour and texture as long as the shapes are feminine and flattering. I dress in more of a classic than trend-led style and I love timeless pieces. I like experimenting with knitwear but I keep my bottoms to classic skinny denim with ankle boots for the workday. For evening events, I prefer a more glamorous look, always wearing dresses, and my go-to brands are Cecilia Prado, Alexander McQueen and Valentino.
I adore handbags and accessorising with our statement Colombian and Mexican jewellery to suit my outfits. I always love interchanging my accessories with my outfits to create fresh coordinated looks each time.
I search for new designers continuously and trial their pieces in my everyday life so as to decide whether other women ‒ our clients ‒ should choose to include these designers in their everyday life as well.
I believe that presentation is everything, so I am a strong believer that first impressions count.
Your latest brand discovery?
Malai – it is one of my most versatile swimwear finds to date. The fabrics are unrivalled in the European market. The finish is seamless, so it flatters any body shape but stays true to the Latin form by being durable, comfortable and sexy. Swimwear is a particular passion of mine and watch this space as I have many more incredible South American finds to reveal.
Your new season favourites that have just landed in Blaiz?
We adore Puntamar, another Colombian swimwear brand that has just landed. The silhouettes are incredible and the fit is spot on. We are expecting this one to sell out fast. Also Serpui, whose bags are bright and colourful, made from raffia and wicker using artisanal hand-weaving techniques. They brighten up the dullest of days and some of our spring/summer styles have sold out already.
Your three most treasured items in your wardrobe?
A Cecilia Prado maxi dress from SS18. The brand made a stunning dress of white knit and pink embroidery that was the epitome of beach chic elegance.
An Isla mother of pearl clutch. This Brazilian brand used real mother of pearl moulded into the most gorgeous showstopping clutch that is versatile for all evening looks.
Schutz Shoes knee-high boots. I can’t live without them, they are so glam and so comfortable.
What makes Blaiz stand out from other London boutiques
Blaiz is one of the last remaining privately owned concept stores in London ‒ our unique brands and product offering cannot be replicated. The colours and textures on offer all year round are guaranteed to add glamour to all our clients’ wardrobes. There is a strong brand DNA that runs through our stores, from the sales team that represents the vibrant cultures of Latin America to the look and feel of the ever-evolving spaces. We offer a window into the spirit of a continent that we associate with rich diversity and colourful fashion.
What is your favourite type of clothing/accessory to shop for?
I love to shop for dresses and contemporary knits. I am always on the lookout for versatile and stylish but timeless pieces to add to my wardrobe. I love super-unique handbags and statement accessories with unexpected textures such as acrylic hand-carved bags and feather earrings. I place a lot of emphasis on quality also.
What are the bestselling brands in Blaiz?
Our bestselling clothing brand at Blaiz is Cecilia Prado, a personal favourite of mine. The designer uses beautifully coloured yarns to create the most incredible luxury knitwear – great for taking you straight from the beach to cocktails in true Brazilian fashion
In terms of accessories, Gissa Bicalho, also from Brazil, has been a firm favourite from our bag selection. The bags are pure works of art. I found this brand when on vacation in Brazil.
Iorane, a new brand to watch, has started to gain a lot of attention in the US. It fast became one of our bestselling brands last season. The collection is more trend-led that some of our other South American labels but the brand does a sequin dress like no other. The shapes are versatile and offer something different to what you find on the high street in the UK, and at a fantastic contemporary price point.
What’s next for Blaiz?
We are always speaking to our clients and listening to what they love and what they would love for us to offer. We also look at the retail environment and how it evolves as we are very agile in how we operate due to this being at the core of our company’s philosophy.
We are currently focusing a lot on perfecting our online operations by offering the maximum amount of product lines to our global customer base. We are also working on our Latin American private label ‒ we will share details of it soon.