Venera Tabakin, a fashion designer based in Phuket, says she is enjoying this present stage in her career. Ms Tabakin has been in Phuket since 2007, when she began to design clothes under her label, Sashiko, which has now become well known in the Phuket fashion market.
Originally from Uzbekistan, Ms Tabakin was encouraged by her school teacher to pursue fashion design, so she moved to Russia to study at a top fashion college, spent time as a dressmaker in Turkey, and finally took classes at the London College of Fashion.
With over 25 years experience in the field of fashion, she has developed her own, unique, signature style of stitching.
“To be a perfect designer, you need to be up to date,” said Ms Tabakin. “You have to constantly do research, checking in different shops and looking at various brands to compare and understand the fabrics and colours used.”
When she can, Ms Tabakin visits New York and London to find fresh inspiration. Fashion magazines are also vital sources of new ideas for her.
But inspiration alone is not enough. To be a good designer, she says, one also needs to know how to draw patterns, cut fabric accurately, understand the process of dressmaking, and have a sound knowledge of fabric types and their various qualities.
“When I see fabric, I see in my mind the dress that will match that type of fabric,” she says with a smile. “And when I see a woman, I imagine which style of dress is going to match her look and her figure.”
She says that the design process begins in her head, with a concept. She then makes sketches, playing with the concept for a while, before making rough variations on the concept using various fabrics. When she is certain that her design is complete, she draws a final pattern and sends it to a tailor to be made, or she makes the garment herself by hand.
“Doing fashion shows is important,” she says. “It’s [the way] to present my work after I have made a collection.”
For the show, there is a further creative process: choosing the right music, make-up, and matched accessories is also very important.
Success and fame in the fashion industry are not that easy to achieve. Even getting started is not easy, Ms Tabakin recalls.
For example, she knew that her limited knowledge of English could hinder her entrance into the London College of Fashion.
So, just before having the entrance interview, she made a suit – jacket and skirt – from fabric that she had recently bought. She wanted to show the College that she was talented.
She was accepted, and graduated with a diploma in fashion design. Studying in London, one of the world’s leading fashion capitals, provided her, she says, with the inspiration she needed.
Ms Tabakin likes to use a combination of different fabrics to create harmony in her designs. When she came to Phuket, she observed how European women had difficulty finding clothes for the tropical climate, so now she mixes cotton and linen in the same garment to make functional and simple clothes for them that are comfortable in the heat and humidity
“I want to design clothes that make women happy. I am happy when I see them wearing my clothes,” says Ms Tabakin.
Mona Shop, near Surin Beach and various other stores in that area stock Ms Tabakin’s Sashiko designs. Each piece is unique.