Russian-born model turned designer Katya Komarova has become a global sensation – and she tells Gordon Knight about her show at next month’s Adelaide Fashion Festival
MUSCOVITE MODEL I was born and raised in Moscow. Both my mother and father are trained engineers – though my mum never really worked as an engineer, she loved music and she dedicated most of her life to it. But as a child I dreamt of becoming a model and about 15 years ago I started my career in the fashion world as a model – but I wasn’t really planning to be a designer.
THAI TEACHER During one of my modelling travels I took a break in Thailand and I met a leather artisan on Koh Tao island. He taught me how to make a leather bracelet in his studio and that was the beginning. I decided to start making things out of leather, so I came home to Russia, cut up my mother’s boots and made a clutch for my girlfriend.
DIRTY ABOUT BOOTS? Mum was fine about her boots – they were very old.
HEADING SOUTH I met my husband while on holiday in Australia a few days before I had to go back to Russia. Just a month and a half after we met he visited me in Russia to discuss whether I could possibly move to Australia. I moved here about five years ago.
PIECE MAKER I’m exploring the versatility of having fewer pieces – wearing the same stuff but styling them with different leather corsets. It’s the same for handbags – you can have one handbag but it can be a daywear bag, an evening bag, a cross-body bag for running around markets. I can really see that there are a lot of core pieces that every woman has in her wardrobe and they come to life when you put accessories with them.
NOT JUST ACCESSORIES I can’t open all the secrets, but my Adelaide Fashion Festival show models will be dressed head to toe with Katya Komarova. In my show there will be a
lot of basics styled with a lot of accessories.
BOUND TO BE BIG Some of my corsets have become best sellers and were seen at New York Fashion Week and in fashion magazines such as Vogue and Elle. (Corsetry) is something I love doing and experimenting with because even a boring, oversized jumper can become a statement piece – if you add a corset.
WASTE NOT I feel quite responsible for the fashion industry’s mass production and wastage. I don’t want to overproduce, so what I came up with is an innovative design that enables me to maintain my stock very efficiently. I laser cut all of my leather here in Adelaide and it actually doesn’t take long to assemble those bags – that’s why the price is quite affordable. I’m using very high-end expensive Italian leather. But I minimise the cost of production. The bucket bags are taking off. They’re best-selling pieces.
NO TIME TO SLOUCH I don’t have much time to relax because I also run another business (with husband Travis Clapp) – it’s an e- learning software company called Opentute. And as part of that software project I’ve started building another product using the same tech. It’s going to be filling the gap of skills, how to break into the fashion industry. I am also still modelling but not this season. I decided not to model at Adelaide Fashion Festival because this year it’s getting a bit too much. I’m planning an overseas trade show in Asia and this will be my third Adelaide Fashion Festival – I debuted in 2016. I feel very proud about it all – and very pleased.
Adelaide Fashion Festival, October 17-21, adelaidefashionfestival.com.au, katyakomarova.com, opentute.com