While still a fashion design student at VCUarts Qatar, Latifa had the opportunity to intern with designer Isabel Toledo in New York. “Her workshops are very hands on. Rueben Toledo also works in the same studio and their love for art and fashion is very contagious. It is amazing to be around and absorb that energy every day,” she says explaining it helped with everything she did and still does. “It brought me close to becoming what I want in terms of my career and personally too.”
The Islamic Fashion Festival (IFF) in Kuala Lumpur 2008, where Latifa was one of the coordinators, was another stepping stone. She was in Kuala Lumpur for four months working with 150 fashion designers one-on-one. This was a huge learning experience and she discovered first-hand what it takes to prepare for a fashion show. It also kicked off her network bringing her in touch with many Far Eastern and Asian designers. “I wanted to be immersed in fashion even more, have my own label and be a part of the experience,” says the young Qatari entrepreneur.
Latifa credits VCUarts Qatar for giving her the tools to work in the fashion industry and for continuing to be a strong support system. She names her professor Donald Earley and fashion design chair Sandra Wilkins as key mentors and supporters. “Their belief in my abilities and their encouragement in all the choices I made since graduating from VCUarts Qatar have been incredibly overwhelming and extremely generous,” she says adding that she considers herself extremely lucky to be part of the VCUarts Qatar family.
She decided she needed to do something in return and came up with the idea of exhibiting the collections of the graduating fashion students in May 2011. “I was a senior once and would have loved the opportunity to experience selling my garments after graduation, so I wanted to provide that for others. It was an amazing feeling to be able to do so with Moda Key.” The response was incredible! The new graduates got a sense of selling their products commercially while interacting with customers and explaining the ideas behind their designs.
With Moda Key already showcasing 21 European and Asian brands offering everything from footwear, to handbags and jewelry and a collection of handbags and cocktail dresses under her own label LFM, Latifa says she feels like a big part of what she does is head-hunt for talent. “I am constantly looking for designers and artists to have as part of our family of brands. Since the opening we have joined forces with six new designers from around the globe including Doha.”
As for LFM, Latifa’s future plans include developing a production workshop at Moda Key, marketing Moda Key and LFM as a strong base for designers to showcase and for LFM to grow in the region and internationally. That, it must be said, is the fashionable way to go.