Talia Loubaton Is Reimagining Men’s Tailoring For Women

Liberowe‘s aesthetic is the footprint of all the memories, the experiences and the desires lived so far, made into garments,” says Parisian designer Talia Loubaton, founder and creative director of Liberowe (a made-up name loosely originating from the Italian term “Libero” – meaning liberty). At once timeless and effortless, strong and delicate, the London label sartorially embodies female freedom in a bid to support women in feeling comfortable in their own skin. It’s certain savoir-faire is “subtlety” according to the designer; “Power that doesn’t have to be shouted.” Totally libertarian, her designs re-render all the subtle symptoms that transcend what is traditionally considered to be male and female; redefining the binary with every article. 

While Liberowe’s mission is to make women feel free through clothing, Loubaton herself admits that consolidating her confidence has been arduous. “Now that I’m 30 (haha) I’m not afraid anymore to say that I didn’t have a massive amount of confidence in myself, nor my talent – terrible actually – when I first moved to London,” she recalls. “But with time and experience, I understood that feeling this is fine and it’s part of the game. Feeling lost in our 20s is totally normal and healthy, actually. We just have to be patient. It does take time to gain confidence and to find our very personal self and inner balance.” But with Liberowe – in Liberowe – she describes how wearing one of her jackets is “definitely and purposefully a self confidence enhancer.” 

The idea for Liberowe arose organically, like Aphrodite from the Cypriot sea. “The idea of taking the leap and creating Liberowe came straight after a trip I took to India where I was amazed by the traditional clothes and the precision of each garment.” There, Loubaton fell in love with the narrow collared jackets associated with the country’s culture. As such, the influence of Indian menswear permeates her pristine collections. So does Paris in the 70s, cited as a frequent reference point for the sleek garments she crafts and incarnating the androgynous turn women’s fashion had begun to take at the time. “The 60s and 70s were a turning point in the 21st century and it was so rich – visually, it was so full of paradoxes, freedom and futurism, layered with what remained of bourgeoisie and patriarchy.” Women finally felt more free, realising a tendency to break away from tradition and rousing a sense – a quintessence – of liberty. “Women were still very much objectified, yet starting to change the old hierarchy – gaining power, freedom and self confidence,” she says. 

Also a fan of French movies from the swinging 60s and the ‘Me’ decade alike, her work reanimates the cinematic style of both eras. “From the sets to the clothes, the atmosphere and the attitudes, I love everything about them!” She continues, identifying that what she finds particularly interesting is the “sense of femininity and depiction of female characters” cinematically explored at the time. 

Known for paving the way within the women’s tailoring sector with timeless garments that transcend genre rules, seasons and trends, the British brand functions under a democratic, unrestricted production model. Liberowe’s luxury jackets are designed and produced locally in London, its materials sourced responsibly with an emphasis on the use of deadstock fabrics.

Currently operating as an outstandingly skilled one-woman team, Loubaton sketches, pattern cuts and fits every piece in her tiny North London studio with her own masterfully seasoned hands. However, keeping creative and managing the strenuous workload with the care and grace of a ballet dancer, Loubaton is far from hindered by working on her ones. “Maintaining my creative vision is actually the easiest and most natural thing in this big adventure. I’ve been working in the fashion industry for the last 10 years now; I guess my brain has gotten used to seeing inspiration in everything and applying it to fashion. But I won’t deny that it is a lot of non-stop work!” However, Loubaton is now looking to hire help, having conversations with retailers and expanding her direct to consumer sales channel. 

When she works, she translates traditional menswear jackets for women – definable as such by their silhouette – via a laborious process of trial-and-error, practice and a seemingly endless flow of prototypes to find “the perfect length and kick flare”. “What I do is I reshape it, make it more ‘feminine’ without making it too ‘feminine – if that makes sense. The cut of the jacket is slightly flared and elongates the silhouettes,” she explains. 

Her second collection, titled Sea Birth, considers lightness and fluidity and was stimulated into existence by Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus painting. It was also inspired by her kin. “My family is a perfect example of cultural syncretism,” she says. “My grandmother was born in Tunisia [North Africa] in a small harbour city and then moved to Paris in the 60s. She was grooving with her time and embraced a proper Parisian modern and bourgeois lifestyle, all the while, hosting 20 people for dinner and cooking Tunisia’s famous dish – a couscous.” Loubaton explains that this is an exact example of the beauty and richness that comes from mixing different cultural backgrounds. “My trip to India was a recollection of those oriental roots that we have in my family – it resonated and was the starting point.” Liberowe’s signature shapes are reflected in the versatile Raja signature jacket and Imperial coats, adapted for Sea Birth as cropped tweed and silk styles.

Loubaton emigrated to London from Paris at the age of 18 to commence studies at Central Saint Martins where she specialised in knitwear design. There she honed her abilities and learnt to trust herself and her skills. “One of the greatest lessons learnt would be to learn by yourself, find your own solutions and most importantly to believe that everything is achievable. There is absolutely no limit to what you can do, hold tight and work hard.” Upon graduation, structure and the art of clothing construction captured her heart. “My master’s collection was actually knitted tailoring,” she says. “I love precision and how tailoring can define a silhouette and a composure.” So, rather than interlocking loops of yarn for the rest of her life, she took a job at Alexander McQueen, cutting her teeth in technical tailoring, before deciding to go it alone with Liberowe. 

Expressing that she feels lucky to have grown up in Paris, enveloped completely by beauty – “ the architecture, the monuments and the city in itself,” – Loubaton has always been a vanguard of design. In fact, she was already sketching and firing off opinions on everyone’s dress from the age of four. “Fashion has always been there; a defining part of me,” she says. 

“I remember seeing an exhibition at Musee des Arts Decoratifs in Paris that literally changed my life at the age of 14, it was a retrospective of Christian Lacroix’s work. I couldn’t cope with all the beauty, so much talent and inspiration. There was this little black bolero embroidered at the back and it might have been the starting point of Liberowe’s even before I knew it – how funny!”

As 2023 descends upon us, fresh and opportune, Loubaton seeks to “keep it healthy, honest, meaningful,” and to “grow the brand as it deserves.” Deserving of recognition, Liberowe will only gain traction with every passing moment, expanding its reach with each and every elegant Liberowe garment. Talia Loubaton is building a community of liberal and liberated people who value craft and understand the power of a well-made, tailored garment. It’s a label uninhibited – a force for freedom.

Photography by Anthony Seklaoui.

liberowe.com  

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