Tina Kalivas (En)

“Life can be over at any moment and you have to create what you really believe in.”

-How did you get into fashion in the first place?

I did not get into fashion – fashion got into me!! It got into me very early on – my mom remember me wanting be a fashion designer since I was about 6. I was making clothes for my dolls and teddy bears. My mom made all mine and my sister’s clothes so I learnt how to sew with her very early on. My Grandmother made stuff all the time … crocheting and telling me stories about her times growing up in her village in Greece. So it was very inspiring growing up in surroundings where it was totally normal to make things with your hands.

-What are the source of inspiration in your fashion and graphic design?

I am fascinated by the diversity of cultures. What make different people chic. Often they are indigenous people from far away lands. People who have somewhat kept their traditions going and their culture pure. I love nature… I think nature informs every designer in some way weather you are an engineer or an architect. I am also very interested in technology which often adds a sci-fi element to my clothes. I love graphic design because I seem to see things in a childish block color graphic type of way..

-How did you design costume for movie ‘GOEMON’? Did you research traditional Japanese costume before designing?

I had never been to Japan before let alone worked with Japanese Costume! It was insane working in an environment where I was the only non-Japanese speaking person. I learnt so much though working with so many crafts people and seeing different methods of construction of Japanese Costume… a totally new way of thinking about clothing. I enjoyed it though – and I made some crazy huge ancient Japanese/sci-fi/fantasy costumes, which I am very proud of. Now I go to Japan all the time and have many wonderful friends there as well as sell in some fantastic stores.

-Do you find Australian roots in your design?

Actually as I was growing up I was always obsessed with British designers. I loved Vivienne Westwood and at 19 after Fashion College I moved to London. A few years later after working in Costume I worked for Alexander McQueen. He exceeded any expectations of what it was like to work for a British Fashion Designer! The experience was amazing on so many levels.

-How is the fashion scene like in Australia? Do you have any favorite designer?

Fashion in Australia is very relaxed and we have a very outdoor summer time life style. So people do not dress up so much. This is why I design more towards London and l Tokyo.

-How did you come to establish the label? Why did you start the label not in London but in Australia?

I really needed a fresh start. I had not seen my family for years and I thought it would be nice to start my label in Australia and give it a go.

-What did you learn while working with Alexander McQueen?

I learnt how to achieve amazing things in a short space of time! My job was mainly working on showpieces around fashion week. I did some intense pattern making and construction to bring his ideas to life. I learnt a lot from working on the stand and draping. Making pieces out of crazy things from glass to leather, from feathers to metal.
Alexander sometimes set almost impossible tasks but I always enjoyed the challenge because of his incredible eccentric imagination. He was a fun person and had an extraordinary vision of the world… not just fashion.

-Is there any difference when you approach your work between movie costume and Tina Kalivas’ collection?

Very different. With costume design you have to follow a brief. So there are guidelines and you must concentrate on bringing a character to life. You must also be in tune with the art director and the director’s vision. When I work on my own collections the possibilities are endless and you have to be strict on yourself with decision-making. I however love the excitement of both…. the danger of designing within a confined space and the danger of having the freedom to go too far.

-What are the most important factors when you approach your work?

Stay focused and dig deep for inspiration. Do not take in too much of what is happening in the world of trends but be aware. It’s a fine line with fashion.

-How do you describe characteristic of your style which makes it difference from others?

Difficult question for me.. I try not to compare myself to others..

-What do you think was the greatest turning point for you as a designer so far?

There have been many. I can talk about all my incredible opportunities professionally but really the main turning point for me was losing a person who was close to my family and me. I really realized for the first time life can be over at any moment and you have to create what you really believe in. This attitude has somehow improved my work I think.

-Is there any designers or person that had a strong influence of your work?

Its more the Indigenous tribes and people from far away lands that make amazing things out of limited recourses and live simple lives that inspire me mostly. This is often mixed with the music I am listening to at the time. I love music and every collection seems to have a soundtrack!

-How would you describe your customer? What do you think your fans seek in your clothing?

I think people like to buy that one off unique piece from my collection. I don’t imagine people busting out in head to toe outfits – there is so much going on for that! But I like to create statement pieces people can keep forever.

-How do you see your brand developing over the next couple of years?

I plan to relocate to London sometime soon so I look forward to expanding my label in the UK. I am a big fan of Tokyo and also enjoy seeing my label grow within this market.

Interview & Text:Masaki Takida

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