“Swimwear has to enhance the body.
It’s the closest you get to being naked,
to really be empowered by your
femininity – and be proud of how you look;
you just have to let go.”
Natascha Sayn Wittgenstein
Tooshie is the original beach lifestyle brand, born out of a deep-rooted understanding of the stylish woman who loves nothing more than to escape into a world of sun-drenched glamour.
Founder and creative director Natascha Sayn Wittgenstein takes inspiration from her free-spirited mother, the Swedish model Birgitta Af Klercker, whose athletic beauty was immortalised by Vogue in the Sixties. “My mother modelled bikinis a lot,” Natascha says. “Diana Vreeland said she had the best legs!”
The magazines Natascha looked at as a child were from a golden era, the days of Irving Penn, Jeanloup Sieff, Richard Avedon, Guy Bourdin. And Birgitta was photographed by them all. Natascha loves the magic of those images of her mother – in graphic one-piece swimsuits, her long ponytail swinging as she moved, or striding across a beach in a bandeau top and a Moroccan kaftan.
This is the stuff of retro dreams for many designers; but for Natascha, it’s in her blood, and she has channelled that effortless, modern elegance straight into her brand. “She was very modern in the way she wore jeans and a T-shirt when we were living in Paris in the early 1970s,” Natascha says of Birgitta.
Exquisitely crafted in Italy,
Tooshie makes sexy, flattering, timeless pieces
that allow you to escape – taking you
effortlessly from yoga mat to pool lounger,
to sunset at the beach bar.
Before she launched Tooshie in 2007 (after a nickname she collected while working in New York when Natascha was shortened to Natoosh, Toosh and then Tooshie), Natascha gathered a wealth of experience with some incredible mentors.
In the mid-1990s, she studied interior design and architecture in Paris, but after a year working with Christian Lacroix, she felt drawn to fashion. And inspired by the magazine spreads and covers of her mother she set out to become a photographer – until she was advised by Irving Penn that rather than become a photographer’s assistant, she should find work with a stylist. Instead, she became the assistant to the editorin-chief of Harper’s Bazaar in New York.
Then, after a stint working as a buyer at a pioneering e-commerce fashion site Vivre.com, she was recruited to become the studio director of Nina Ricci. She moved to Paris and worked on everything from accessories, jewellery, shoes and handbags to branding, store design, fragrance as well as the lingerie license.
When she started Tooshie, she imagined a life drifting from white sands to turquoise waters selling her own designs. In reality she spends a lot of time with extraordinary craftspeople in Italy, experimenting with fabrics – sparkly Lurex, softest fishnet, quirky prints and the finest knits. Natascha’s swimwear is made in the same factories that make for Missoni and Pucci, while her luxurious bohemian beachwear, cover-ups and towels are hand-woven in India. “The highlight of having a fashion brand for me is to work with all these artisans I respect so much,” she says. “The bikini is the smallest piece of fabric you wear, any mistakes show,” she adds.
That’s why Natascha insists they are so exquisitely crafted, cut by an expert team of experienced modellistas. The retro-inspired triangular and bandeau shapes are classic, pared down and minimal. Comfort and fit is everything. And they are lined so beautifully that, with the contrasting colours that Natascha uses, many of her designs are reversible. Yearly newness comes in the form of originally developed prints, or clever use of denim, cotton, knit and even leather. Customers come back to Tooshie seasonally for updates on these covetable pieces that make the wearer’s curves look so appealing.
Today, Tooshie is sold in 25 countries, online and in luxury hotels and resorts, from St Barts to the Maldives, offering simple elegance with a glamorous twist, perfect for a lazy afternoon by the pool or maybe even with a pair of capri pants for cocktails in the evening.