Every wall and surface of Maria Fernanda Latif’s house in Lingfield is decorated with her own artistic creations, transforming it into a space that is bright, creative and original. Exactly like her, in fact.
Pre-Covid, 85-year-old Maria Fernanda spent time at carboot sales, seeking out objects and jewellery, and then upcycling them into unique new designs. While unable to do this for much of the past year she hasn’t allowed herself to idle, continuing to create necklaces from items she already owns, as well as crocheting four eye-catching dresses.
Maria Fernanda taught herself to sew at an extremely young age, much to the consternation of her mother. Maria remembers the look on her face:
“My mother was so anxious that I might hurt myself as I attempted to thread a needle, but I was determined. Before I could speak, I could sew.”
Maria Fernanda left her native Portugal in 1959, when she was 23. She held a diploma in Fashion and Millinery, and had been working as a seamstress for an English family, who then brought her to London. She continued to make clothes, and became a member of the prestigious Embroiderer’s Guild, later teaching her skills to others.
In 1960, Maria met her husband-to-be, Latif, a civil engineer, and the couple went on to have three children (Maria is also now a grandmother of four). They eventually left the capital and moved into a house in Coulsdon.
When Latif died 20 years ago, Maria Fernanda decided she would fill her life with colour and vibrancy. When she is able, she meets up with a group of friends at Spitalfield’s Market, where their only rule is that they should dress as outrageously as possible.
You can see Maria Fernanda’s work on Instagram: @oldn_antique