Sydney designer Tina Kalivas has never been one to conform to the trend-driven fashion industry. Her collections aren't designed for goddesses or shopping malls. They're not steeped in fantasy or excess. Tina is a designer very much in touch with the world around her and it’s this social consciousness and thirst for culture and creativity that is reflected so poignantly in her work.

Her recent winter collection is testament to her imagination and ability to incorporate challenging issues into inherently beautiful designs. Entitled Hive Mind, the collection explores the way our minds are all linked together through our shared culture. Leading her to the concept were George Orwell, Aldous Huxley and Fritz Lang, respected science fiction writers (or filmmakers, in Lang’s case) from the 20s and 40s.

“It was an awareness towards a fear of globalisation and loss of individual identity that these imaginative writers created,” notes Tina. Their “incredible imagery and fascinating futuristic worlds have become retro Sci-Fi classics”.

Adding to the collection’s tapestry of influences, Hive Mind also references another icon from the roaring era: infamous flapper Josephine Baker.

“I'm so fascinated by this era and its creative aesthetics. I brought the influence of Josephine Baker into the equation because she was such a non-conformist of her time. Only accepted in Paris for her provocative outlandish dancing, she was a true individual.”

Miss Baker seems to be a muse of the moment. Italian designer Miuccia Prada sent vibrant banana prints and frivolous drop waist dresses down the runway at her recent spring collection in yet another homage to Josephine. For Tina, you can see the flapper's influence in the high square necklines and asymmetrical hemlines, while the exposed zips, geometric panels, exaggerated silhouettes and honeycomb shapes reference that of a stylish spaceship uniform.

“I suppose I was exploring the conformist boundaries and the nonconformist boundaries of that era,” she says of the contrast.

Hive Mind's colour and print sequence is also a fascinating aspect of the collection, the result of a collaboration between Tina and Australian artist Jonathan Zawada. The vivid hive print is designed to resemble an optical illusion, as it is both hexagon and cube in nature. According to Tina, she has worked with Jonathan ever since her label began so a collaboration was well overdue.

“Jonathan was very fascinated with the concept when I first chatted to him about it. I knew I wanted a pattern that involved a hive; then he went off and designed a whole hive matrix representing the network of society and culture.”

With large concepts and complex constructions, Hive Mind is a busy range to say the least. No wonder Tina is taking a break from the industry. But sadly this break comes with a relocation to the UK, and she's taking her label with her.

“It's an exciting yet busy time re-adjusting, but I have been working on other creative projects such as creating costumes for pop bands, and making one-off pieces for artists and photo shoots.”

Hopefully she will return to the Australian hive soon.

tinakalivas.com