World at her feet
If you want to change the world, you should start with a load of passion in what you're doing, says UTS graduate Talia Shuvalov. But as the Sydneysider starts her career in the fashion world's capital of New York, she knows that leaving her mark on the world also takes a lot of hard work and perseverance.
"I've just moved into my new apartment in Soho, two blocks from Ruby's Café," says the 25-year-old Bondi native. "But I don't get to spend much time here – I'm too busy."
Busy is an understatement. Having attended Reddam House school in Sydney, and determined not to follow in the footsteps of her knitwear designer mother – Sandra Steiner – Shuvalov's avoidance of her mother's profession disappeared when it came to selecting a university and a degree.
"I loved design, loved clothes and wanted to work in an industry where I could express my creativity. Like many young people, I want to have an impact on the world and my creativity is how I can express that."
Enrolling into the UTS Bachelor of Design in Fashion and Textiles course, Shuvalov realised early that she'd made a lucky choice.
"The course was right for me because the emphasis was on breeding careers, rather than breeding labels," she says. "So it was about making us hone skills and become confident with what we wanted to express rather than being too commercially minded."
Shuvalov says with the well-equipped Faculty of Design, Architecture and Building , she found herself drawn to her mother's expertise of knitwear.
"In the second year we had a knitwear teacher come in – Alana Clifton-Cunningham – and she really got me interested in not just selecting fabric, but designing and making it myself. I started spending a lot of time on the equipment, finding what was possible."
What was possible was eventually a four-month holiday work experience placement in 2009 with Alexander McQueen. She spent these months in London, working on photographs of hats for an upcoming show from the fashion doyen, and helping with several knitwear 'looks', three of which ended up on the catwalk for a McQueen show.
"That was an eye-opener," she says. "To see how hard they all work in the fashion world, when there's a show coming up, was amazing. People were exhausted but they'd still be working, trying to make everything perfect."
Shuvalov graduated from UTS with first class honours, which gave her the bonus of having her collection exhibited at the Powerhouse Museum that year, a collection that gave a glimpse of her developing signature style.
"When I look back on that show, I can see that I'm leaning to graphic, modern fashion – textile-based knitwear: clean, minimal, architecture. I wasn't doing cardies and sweaters. It was high fashion."
Her days are now spent at the fashion house at Irving Place, selecting swatches and buttons and developing the looks that will be in the next Narciso Rodriguez show: the 'pre-fall' show in December followed by the fall show in February.
And because this is New York and a major fashion house, Shuvalov is designing for the world.
"A lot of time, effort and thought goes into a look," she says. "And when retailers pick it up and people start wearing it in the street, the world is changed."
(Media enquiries) Terry Clinton (+61 2 9514 1623)