The Fashion Folk S02 ep9 : Tina Kalivas, Kalivas Fashion, [London]

Interview with Tina Kalivas

Greek-Australian designer Tina Kalivas began her career in London, working within the Fashion and Film Industry. Primarily she worked at Alexander McQueen, Clements Ribeiro, Russell Sage and J. Maskrey where she was a seamstress and Creative Pattern Cutter of showpieces and private orders. Now she is creating her own label & making her own mark in the fashion Industry. Her collaborations include designing a capsule collections for Kookai and Target, Designing uniforms for the new luxury Sydney Hilton Hotel and much more. Tina is making her own path and really determining what design means to her, personally. She is unlike many designer, she always finds a new way to approach fashion. Her most recent collection, Polyrhythms is just testament to how far things can and will go in fashion. Inspiration is ever growing and never ending. Tina’s FW09 collection is about Polyrhythms, which is the simultaneous sounding of two or more independent rhythms, often heard in traditional African music and the Jazz music of artists like Miles Davis and John Coltrane.


KM: What is Tina Kalivas?

Well basically it is my name, and it is my father's name..

KM: What your fathers name is Tina as well, are you Tina Jnr?


13 was when I first told my counsellor at school . I went in and said that I wanted to be a
fashion designer, and she said "You know that is a really hard thing to do". So I thought
o.k. that is going to be difficult I will do something about it now and I looked into doing some
evening classes so my first evening classes I started officially when I was 14, pattern
cutting. But by that point I was already sewing at home with my mum because she sewed.

I applied to a Fashion Diploma and I did that for 3 years and then after that I decided that I
had to get away probably when I was about 18 and when I got to London I said I am
staying here.

It took me a whole year to find something that I could get me teeth into and that was my
first job when I worked at Angels and Costumes which is a very big costume house. I
worked with 15 costume designers and stylists and I worked on that side of things so that
was working with clothes working there was another whole section of my education, and
that is also when I went to the London College of Fashion and did an evening course on
Period Corsetry and Period Underwear and that kind of thing. You start from the bottom, it
is a different thing altogethe

Jewellery Theatre Carravaggio

At that point I met Katie England who is Alexander McQueen's stylist and Katie is the
director of the shows and all that, and she used to come in because she would be
researching and working on projects

KM: Considering what…

I would be the one who would assist her in finding costumes and references.

Katie phoned up and asked if I could help so I went and helped on a show and I worked on
every show since.

KM: So you were with him from when till when?

I think it was from 1998 to 2002.

The whole McQueen thing really inspired the London fashion a lot, he took the idea, the
idea of presenting and showcasing clothes in a really unique, flamboyant, theatrical way
and really gave fashion a really amazing 3 dimensional feel to it and everybody enjoyed it.

Jewellery Theatre Carravaggio

That kind of energy, that kind of competitiveness is what makes London a really interesting
and exciting place because if everyone is competing it means you have to work even
harder which means that the standards are even higher. And then I worked on a James
Bond film,

KM: Which one?

"Die Another Day", and as soon as that finished I moved to Australia.

I wanted to create my own label and I wanted to reinvent my whole creativity and really
focus on what it is that I am trying to do with my work and I needed head space and time,
and all that and I found coming to Sydney inspiring because it is still a you know
cosmopolitan city and it has you know beautiful surroundings, a lot of space, you can drive
and in an hour you can be in the middle of mountains with waterfalls and all that.

I have kind of let my love for nature and you know natural phenomenon come out, I am
very interested in space, I am interested in the cosmos, I am excited at the way things

KM: And how is that related to fashion?

It never really is, to be honest with you, with me. I think there are general things that I pick
up subconsciously like you know the length of skirts, certain silhouettes, things like that but
I think to really push forward you have got to kind of not really think about what everyone
else is wearing. My last Spring Summer collection was inspired by luminescence which is
term for a living deep sea creature, a living organism who can extract its own light.

Jewellery Theatre Elements

KM: What do you feel is the chemistry of a garment and a woman?

I love the form, I just love the form. It is like an artist will have their canvas, a square
canvas. This is like the form for me.....I work on it all the time, I have gotten to know it so
well, I know the woman's body and I love working with that shape.

For me sexiness is a look and it is structure and it is emphasising certain parts of the body,
even if your are only accentuating your waist on that particular day you. I believe in inner
beauty a lot, I believe in allowing yourself to be yourself, there is honesty in that.

I do want to carry on my film work, because with costumes you can go crazy and I need

KM: I gather that is your equivalent of horticulture at the moment?

Yeah, exactly.

KM: When you first decided to come back to Sydney and decided to get back into this
business did you find it difficult at the start?

I got off the plane, I had my clothes in my suitcase cause I had made them in England,
brought them over, week later it was Fashion week. I put my clothes up.

KM: This is in Sydney?

Yeah. People came, I think I got about 3 orders that first season, and then the next season
I did a show got a few more, and the next season... last season in May I did a big show,
and everyone really loved it.

Jewellery Theatre Fairytales

I would come back from London on holiday and I’ll have like front page of the paper there
would be this massive McQueen gown which I had made, I look at the front page and I
worked for this amazing designer and isn't that great! and my dad would be just - not
interested. I would bring him the McQueen shows and play them for him and he would think
everything was weird and not get it. But it was all quite strange and I think that the very first
time he really felt proud and that I had really achieved and that I am talented was when he
came to my show and he turned up at the door and the person on the door was like, sorry
sorry your name is not on the list and started giving him all that. My dad thought hang on a
minute and then he turned around and there was a swarm of people behind him trying to
get into the show, he was with mum as well, and then they realised that all these people
had come to see my clothes. He started to think there are people with cameras, people
fighting about getting to the best positions and then after the show piling back stage
scrambling up to me to get an interview and all that kind of thing..

KM: A celebrity.

Yeah, and he was just in absolute shock.

OFFICIAL WEBSITE: Tina Kalivas, Kalivas Fashion, London