However, my sister messaged me recently, with a link to the Designs by Maria Atchia facebook group. I remembered that Maria had actually sent me a personal message about her designs. As she was locally based and happened to have a sale on at the time, we set up an appointment to go and view her collection.
It was a rainy saturday morning and 5 of us (me, 2 sisters, my mum and my neice) went to visit Maria at her home in Manchester. To be honest I was a bit apprehensive about it all. What if we didn't like her collection and it turned into a big awkward situation? Or worse, what if we did like her stuff but she was such a pushy saleswoman that we got put off?
Thankfully, Maria was really chilled out but attentive and let her clothes do the talking. This is her first collection and her outfits range from casualwear, to outfits you could wear to a wedding. She has a limited number of ready-to-wear suits (they've been selling out fast!) but you can still get your hands on most of her collection as unstitched fabric.
After browsing through the rail of clothes she presented to us, I saw that her designs had that little bit of unique-ness you don't usually find in all the other mass-production asian clothes shops in this area. The fact that you can also buy unstitched versions of her designs also means that it gives you a chance to customise the designs to your own style or body type.
Her prices were really reasonable too, especially now that she has her Eid sale on :)
After picking out what we liked, we tried some of the outfits on, and ended up buying two of them! I'll be wearing mine to a wedding in Scotland later this year, and I know there won't be anyone else there in something similar!
This is one designer I'm definitely going to keep my eye on! Partly because she's local, but also because I can see a lot of potential in her. I can't wait to see what her next collection is going to be like, and I'd definitely get in line if she decides to do made-to-measure.
Check out the Maria Atchia facebook group for more of her designs and check out this newspaper article from the Asian Image for an interview with the lady herself!