A MOD­EST OF­FER­ING

Al­trin­cham’s lat­est fash­ion open­ing is bring­ing a new brand of style to Cheshire. We meet founder, Na­dine Naily, to dis­cover more

Cheshire Life - - Look Well - WORDS: He­len Carter PHO­TOS: Emily El­li­son

The term has been on the pe­riph­ery of fash­ion con­ver­sa­tions for the last few years. It de­scribes a more con­ser­va­tive way of dress­ing; high neck­lines and low hem­lines, bil­low­ing sleeves and flow­ing, lay­ered fab­rics. It’s known as Mod­est Fash­ion and now Na­dine Naily, a 37-year-old en­tre­pre­neur, is bring­ing it to Cheshire with her new Al­trin­cham bou­tique, Neish – the first of its kind in the county.

Na­dine, who was raised in Al­trin­cham by her Bri­tish mother and Tu­nisian fa­ther, spent six years work­ing in the mu­sic and fash­ion in­dus­tries out in Dubai, the home of some of the world’s ma­jor mod­est fash­ion houses. She re­turned four years ago to join her daugh­ter, Neisha, who’s now 16 and a Year 11 stu­dent at North Ces­trian Gram­mar School, who had come back a year ear­lier to start her sec­ondary ed­u­ca­tion.

Now she has set up Neish, named af­ter her daugh­ter and a play on the con­cept of a niche of­fer­ing, to of­fer the women of Cheshire a new way of dress­ing.

Sip­ping green tea from a dec­o­ra­tive glass cup, on the sofa of her Lloyd Street bou­tique, the smell of spiced scented can­dles fill­ing the room, Na­dine is keen to put one myth to rest from the start.

Although Na­dine has been driven by her own dis­cov­ery of her Is­lamic faith, she de­nies this is just a fash­ion for Mus­lim women. ‘The clothes are not just for peo­ple of Mus­lim her­itage – of­ten peo­ple may think that in Cheshire,’ she says.

‘But the mod­est clothes give the foun­da­tion of re­spect and that’s the mes­sage I’m try­ing to de­liver.’

In­deed amongst the head scarves and more Arab-in­flu­enced pieces that Na­dine mod­els with aplomb are sim­ple, un­struc­tured shirt dresses as well as maxi skirts and biker-style jack­ets. The clothes have uni­ver­sal ap­peal for women who want to look stylish and feel com­fort­able in their own skin – with­out show­ing off acres of flesh. Sig­nif­i­cantly they’re de­signed to ap­peal to women of all ages.

You can see the trend play­ing out in the world of celebrity – look at Vic­to­ria Beck­ham’s trans­for­ma­tion from body­con-clad former pop star to se­ri­ous fash­ion mogul in her an­kle-skim­ming dresses and high-necked blouses. In­deed Far­rah Storr, the Manch­ester-born fash­ion mag­a­zine edi­tor, now at the helm of iconic ti­tle Elle, has writ­ten of her love for mod­est fash­ion, born not of her Pak­istani her­itage, but dis­cov­ered ac­ci­den­tally via an In­sta­gram search for flat­ter­ing, age-ap­pro­pri­ate fash­ion that con­veys a par­tic­u­lar mes­sage about her.

So who are Na­dine’s clients? She says she sells to her friends and con­tacts who are stylish and wealthy Cheshire res­i­dents. She nods dis­creetly, but doesn’t of­fer more de­tail when I ask if the type of women who buy cloth­ing from her may be Premier League foot­ballers’ wives? She smiles. But she ab­so­lutely re­fuses to name who her cus­tomers are and won’t be drawn fur­ther, de­spite my ques­tions.

She ex­plains that dis­cre­tion is key – oth­er­wise her cus­tomers will go else­where and that could sig­nal the death knell for the fledg­ling business, based unas­sum­ingly above a sewing shop be­tween Al­trin­cham’s up­mar­ket es­tate agents and cof­fee shops.

Back once again in Al­trin­cham, she is on home turf. She ex­plains that while she had a tra­di­tional Bri­tish up­bring­ing in the town, ‘I was al­ways drawn to my Ara­bic roots… the mu­sic, the cul­ture or the peo­ple’. And so that cul­ture is vis­i­ble through­out her bou­tique. As well as the clothes and ac­ces­sories, which in­clude state­ment neck­laces and sun­glasses, there are cov­eted Saudi Ara­bian Oud and At­tar fra­grances. Na­dine also sells lin­gerie, which is not on dis­play in the store.

There are black and gold metal­lic pleated skirts and gar­ments in her sig­na­ture Em­power print, which has an­i­mal themes and a Ver­sace-style op­u­lence. There are plain se­quinned jump­suits to wear be­neath the mod­est clothes, a brown pleated ki­mono and tra­di­tional flow­ing abayas.

Shirt dresses are on sale with vi­brant pat­terns. Some of the fab­rics are dec­o­rated with pretty jew­elled em­bel­lish­ments. All the clothes are rea­son­ably priced from £55 to a max­i­mum of around £120.

Na­dine re­flects on her jour­ney to Neish Cloth­ing and says she was liv­ing a celebrity life­style just two years ago. Back in Dubai she’d run an events com­pany as well as be­ing a model booker and ex­ec­u­tive as­sis­tant, con­stantly sur­rounded by mod­els and the wealth they tend to at­tract. The glam­our had con­tin­ued af­ter she left. She’d re­turned to Cheshire and set up Neish, a fash­ion brand that wasn’t in any way mod­est. ‘It was jump­suits and fig­ure-hug­ging cloth­ing and fit­ness styles… a classy mix of mod­ern things and party clothes,’ she says.

In fact it would be a party that would change ev­ery­thing. It was New Year’s Eve 2017. She was dat­ing the body­guard of an A-lis­ter whom she won’t name (or give an inkling to who they are). She was at the mys­tery A-lis­ter’s house in LA, sur­rounded by fa­mous and beau­ti­ful peo­ple, when she sud­denly felt lonely and en­tirely out of place.

‘I just thought what am I do­ing here? It’s not where I want to be,’ she says. ‘It’s sup­posed to be great, but I just wanted to be at home in Cheshire with my teenage daugh­ter.’

So she turned her back on the celebrity life­style and the re­la­tion­ship with the body­guard and then, af­ter a trip to Gam­bia in Jan­uary, fur­ther em­braced her faith in Is­lam and be­gan fo­cus­ing on mod­est cloth­ing.

‘I re­alised what was im­por­tant in life,’ she says of her trip in Jan­uary. ‘Liv­ing in Dubai, the Lam­borgh­i­nis are all great, but they were some of the un­hap­pi­est peo­ple,’ she says. ‘It was a life­style that was ex­cit­ing and lux­u­ri­ous, but money came in one hand and went out in the other.’

She got rid of her whole­sale unit and all the main­stream clothes she’d sold on­line and es­tab­lished her high street pres­ence, fi­nally open­ing for business in late 2019.

Gone were the be­jew­elled black mini skirts (which I mis­took for a snood) and in came the flow­ing, yet el­e­gant, gar­ments – with fig­ure-hug­ging body­suits to be worn be­neath them as a base layer.

Cru­cially, the bou­tique is ap­point­ment-only and peo­ple can’t just rock up off the street, as the ex­pe­ri­ence is so per­son­alised and pri­vate to the in­di­vid­ual, whether they be a cam­era-shy celebrity or a mod­est Mus­lim shop­per.

Hav­ing em­braced her faith, on Fri­days she now teaches young women in small groups from North Ces­trian and other schools about val­ues and mind, body and soul as well as dress­ing mod­estly. She in­sists that there is no op­pres­sion in dress­ing mod­estly. ‘My brand is not just about fash­ion, but about brains, beauty and badass de­ter­mi­na­tion,’ she says. ‘I’m get­ting a lot of younger women in­ter­ested in my cloth­ing as I’m es­tab­lish­ing an ac­tive range with hi­jabs made from thin ma­te­rial for when peo­ple are in the gym,’ she adds. ‘We call our­selves the hi­jabis.’

As for the sort of fash­ion she used to wear, she does ad­mit to bristling when she sees young women dressed badly. ‘Where is the cul­ture, the class, the el­e­gance and what are we teach­ing these kids?’ she asks.

She re­sorts to her own learn­ings as a child: ‘My nana taught me two things,’ she adds. ‘Stay in your own lane and be kind – as you don’t know what peo­ple are go­ing through.’ You have to find your own path, she says. By turn­ing her back on a se­cure, suc­cess­ful ca­reer and plough­ing her sav­ings into set­ting up on her own, ‘I may have lost fi­nan­cially but I’ve gained so much spir­i­tu­ally with where I am now.’

‘My brand is not just about fash­ion, but about brains, beauty and badass de­ter­mi­na­tion’

Na­dine Naily, founder of mod­est fash­ion bou­tique Neish

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