TATIANA SANTO DOMINGO
The founder of ethical fashion line Muzungu Sisters opens up about motherhood and her second pregnancy
At a time when publicising your private life is the norm, when social media has turned us all into a voyeur, Tatiana Santo Domingo is something of an enigma. A society beauty married to Monegasque royalty, she is a glamorous figure. She is also intensely private. Deftly side-stepping the spotlight that is inevitably trained on her, the elusive 31-year old rarely gives interviews. Although she is often photographed at high-profile events, she studiously avoids attention. For someone so reluctant to let the world steal a glimpse of her life, (even her wedding to Andrea Casiraghi was free from the blaze of publicity a royal marriage usually ignites), it comes as a surprise that Tatiana is uncharacteristically open to talking about motherhood.
The granddaughter of prominent Columbian businessman and ambassador, Julio Mario Santo Domingo, Tatiana had an international upbringing. Born in New York, she was educated in Geneva before moving to Paris, but now calls London home. “I went to university here and I’ve loved it ever since,” she explains. Renowned for her haute bohemian style – she has cited the Yves Saint Laurent muse, Loulou de La Falaise, as her fashion icon in the past – she favours jewel-coloured kaftans, long diaphanous dresses and bright embroidered jackets. It’s a look that lends itself well to pregnancy. “I haven’t really changed my style [for expecting] the only thing that I have changed is that I wear maternity jeans, but because I usually wear quite loose, floaty tops and jackets I just continue wearing those kind of things.”
She is co-owner of an ethical fashion line, Muzungu Sisters, which she founded with her friend Dana Alikhani. Born out of their shared love for travel, the two came up with the concept in 2009. “I had an idea of sourcing ethnic pieces from around the world and making them available online and Dana had just finished her masters in human rights, so she was particularly interested in fair labour and the way artisans work. Everything we sell is ethically sourced, we always know the conditions in which our products are made, we meet all the artisans who make our things,” says Tatiana. The pair’s wanderlust is captured in the eclectic mix of pieces on Muzungusisters.com. From bright, pom-pom embellished Sicilian baskets, to traditional Moroccan baboucheslippers, to hand-engraved silver necklaces from Laos, the range – which takes its name from the word traveller in Swahili – is akin to taking a fashionable, whirlwind trip to far-flung markets and bazaars. “It’s very much a reflection of our own personal styles so everything that we carry we love,” explains Tatiana.
Muzungu Sisters is a serious business, not just a project created out of passion. Tatiana and Dana’s dedication to promoting and preserving the traditional work of craftsmen hasn’t gone unrecognised. In October last year, just three years after they launched their label, the pair won the United Nations’ NGO Women Together for the Fashion in Development award for their efforts. “To be in this iconic room that we had seen in images so many times, to receive an award was definitely a very proud moment,” says Tatiana.
Travel is obviously an overriding influence on her work and life, “I love the feeling of being far away and disconnected from my everyday life,” she explains. However will a new baby bring a halt to her peripatetic existence? “I don’t really go on maternity [leave] – it’s hard to switch off and say bye when it’s your own business. I had a baby, then Dana had a baby, and now I’m having another, so one of us just picks up a little bit more during these times,” she says.
Tatiana admits that since she and Dana became mothers they are no longer able to go on many sourcing trips. “I don’t actually travel that much anymore, especially now that I have a two-year old!” she says. “But we are continuing to work with our existing suppliers and so we constantly have new orders and we just continue to do the thing that we have been doing for the last couple of years. We’re just letting it [the business] grow organically.”
Now that her due date is fast approaching, she is eagerly anticipating her baby’s arrival. “I can’t wait. I’m a very nostalgic person so I have already forgotten all of the bad sides and only remember the good sides. I’m sure the second the next baby is born I will remember all of the difficult moments again.” She laughs before continuing, “But for now I’m very excited.”
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