Sharon Wauchob

Growing up in a remote part of Northern Ireland, Sharon Wauchob wasn’t exposed to much mainstream fashion, yet its allure at times provided a welcome diversion from local political tensions. Once, in the late ’80s, quite literally: “We were shopping during a troubled political time,” the 44-year-old designer recalls. “Something was going on outside, and explosions were going off. The chandelier in the shop fell, and we continued shopping. So fashion can be an escapism as well,” she says with a laugh. It wasn’t until Wauchob left for London to attend university at Central Saint Martins, a transition she describes as going from “one extreme to the other,” that she even saw fashion design as a possible career. Graduating at the top of her class was certainly a harbinger of her future ahead. In 1997, Wauchob became an in-house designer at Louis Vuitton before starting her eponymous label two years later. Looking back, the Paris-based designer seems shocked that it’s been almost 15 years that she’s been on her own. Understated but always with a bit of an edge, her womenswear is undeniably sexy and luxurious—as much for its exquisite fabrics and detailing, such as contrast stitching and embroidery, as for the effortlessness it conveys.

Aside from the constant flux of the fashion industry (“The challenge is to ride the change,” she says), the label still has its moments of feeling brand new, most recently with the debut of Wauchob’s first bag collection for fall 2014. And personal changes such as motherhood have also been illuminating. “It’s interesting to see what’s obvious beauty to a child’s eyes and that naïveté of beauty,” the mother of two notes. “I think it’s good as we get more engrossed in fashion to try and step back and look at things more freshly.”

To return to “The Female Gaze,” click here.