I might almost be justified in labeling Tina Kalivas an ethnic rock chick of Australian fashion. Her inspirations are often drawn from ethnic textiles, different cultures and music – at once very raw and playful; a little like her warehouse living-working space in inner-city Sydney.
This season’s collection, Totem, sees the infusion of South Pacific totem-pole imagery into digitally printed and tightly defined silhouettes. She is never afraid of colour or pattern and uses it to express the very rhythm of a culture; repeating or bursting forth on a central bodice panel or imaginitively cut construction. Totem also draws on the influence of the Modern Primitive and Bauhaus movements. In 2008 it was Afghanistan and Zarafshan native textiles that we saw as accents on the body. This most recent story seems to carry on directly from her 2009 collection; Polyrhythms. In drumming this term describes an African drum sound where different rhythms are played together to make one sound and it is this, along with Miles Davis and African textiles, which inspired that collection.
In Tina’s own words about Polyrhythms:
I wanted to create a playful collection where all the styles looked like they belonged to the same family but they all had their own quirks and eccentricities. I suppose playing with unity and diversity at the same time. I love multiculturalism and designing this collection was like getting a bunch of people from different social classes and cultural backgrounds and putting them into one harmonious space.