Exclusive: Claudia Winkleman's go-to designer reveals why those 'fitted' Strictly outfits are so powerful


Sequins, structured jumpsuits, opulent feathers and strapless pencil dresses are some of the pieces favoured by Strictly Come Dancing host Claudia Winkleman. Every weekend while gracing our TV screens, the 51-year-old star always manages to flaw us with her glitzy and beautifully tailored ensembles.

Impressing week after week with a wardrobe many would dream of having, it seems there's one trusty fashion designer Claudia tends to gravitate towards, and that's Nadine Merabi.

Claudia Winkleman
Claudia Winkleman often wears Nadine Merabi - here, seen in a white sequin jumpsuit (BBC)

Having been in the industry for the past seven years, the fashion designer has amassed an army of fans and has credited Claudia's primetime appearance for sending the brand alight. It's no secret that MERABI thrives online, recently leaping into the physical domain by opening its first retail pop-up in London.

Speaking at the launch, British-Lebanese designer Nadine opened up about the impact having stars such as Claudia and Strictly judge Motsi Mabuse has had on her empire.

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"It's just a little bit surreal but also a lot of people think, 'Oh my goodness, you've just gone huge overnight' But it's not the case as I started designing 12 years ago and it's been a lot of hard work," she explained. "I finally feel like I'm getting to showcase my designs to people."

Claudia Winkleman stunned in the 'Katarina' jumpsuit by Nadine Merabi on Saturday night's show
Claudia recently stunned in the 'Katarina' jumpsuit by Nadine Merabi (Instagram / @claudiawinkle)

She continued: "With Claudia and Motsi wearing my pieces, I think it's really cool. It's prime-time TV, there are so many families watching the show together. It does bring families together on a Saturday night. It's great knowing that because I get messages from my friends, mums and their daughters. It just shows that such a wide range of people are watching it.

"Especially having someone like Claudia in my designs is wonderful, she's so relatable and not intimidating in the slightest. So yes, it's really nice to see our designs TV."

On how her pieces have been designed to make "women feel more confident," Nadine revealed: "Each collection I design, each one - I think - gets kind of a little bit more experimental and a bit more confident.

"I think it's just me growing within, with my own confidence in designing. I'm very conscious of the female body shape and the desire to making us feel amazing."

She added: "At the end of the day, if someone puts something on and they feel amazing, then they're going to walk with a different kind of confidence and air of confidence about them will change."

But what's Nadine's powerful secret down to? "Silhouettes and fits are really, really important to me," she shared.

Sofia Vergara in black strapless dress
Sofia Vergara has also stunned in Nadine Merabi (Taylor Hill)

In recent years, the premium pieces have been spotted on US reality show Selling Sunset and on stars such as Sofia Vergara, Miley Cyrus and her mum Tish Cyrus.

Nadine also tends to bring back her most popular styles, sometimes with minor adjustments and colour changes. "That was also a bit of a conscious effort, I think I've always been the same in the sense of if I like to keep something, I want to be able to wear it over and over until it's unwearable. With all my designs, I want it to be so you can keep it in your wardrobe, wear it again and make you feel amazing each time you wear it."

Asked why she has opened MERABI's very first store, the designer commented: "Some people might be a bit scared about ordering something online without trying something on. They might think they're too old or they might think they're not the right size.

Nadine Merabi
Nadine Merabi wants women to feel more confident (Nadine Merabi)

"I'm trying to show that we are more accessible and relatable. We just want to help people experiment and feel their best and add a bit of sparkle wherever they go."

She added: "I feel like a lot of our clothing has taken me so long to create. Trying to develop the fabrics, get the fit right, get the patterns right and get the completed design - that sometimes can take 12 months.

The Nadine Merabi pop-up is open till mid-January
The Nadine Merabi pop-up is open till mid-January

"And then if it's just some online imagery, you don't get to feel the crater shape the work that's gone into it. So for me, it's for people to be able to see the product in person which is incredible."

The store, 42 South Motcomb Street, will be open to the public through mid-January.