|Kristina's Design Journey
I find it very hard to talk about myself; the best way to know me is through my work: whether that be dancing, designing, or teaching. However, here’s a little bit about my journey from a little girl in Communist-era Sofia to champion Ballroom Dancer and Designer in New York City, via Buenos Aires, Los Angeles and so many other amazing stops along my path.
I learned to sew at a very young age. My father had a habit of bringing home all kinds of useful things, typewriters, sewing machines, flat tires…. Understandably, I quickly started appreciating the hidden potential in objects abandoned and forgotten by the masses. I was also inevitably trained to test, repair and eventually put them back to good use.
One happy afternoon I found myself sitting in front of a slick, German-made Singer sewing machine. With one foot at the pedal, I desperately tried to absorb all sorts of instructions on how to thread it, clean it, dust it off and keep it oiled, because, “you know, oil is for the sewing machine what Christmas Dinner is for us, humans," all while hopelessly struggling to slow the wicked beast down.
Before I knew it, I’d tamed the Singer and was making outfits for all my dolls, cousins and most importantly: Grandma.
Grandma’s cocktail dress was a sight to behold. The only fabric available to me during those long years behind the Iron Curtain consisted of old, worn out bed sheets. I stylishly decorated these tattered old fabrics with random buttons and Communist propaganda brooches I dug up from the family drawers. You might think that was already sad enough, but it gets worse: I made poor Granny wear everything.
As you can imagine, once I started Ballroom Dancing the fashion sky was my limit… My best friend at that time had been dancing for a year before we met. One day she took me to the dance studio to show off and I was hooked. Then and there I decided I had to become at least as graceful and beautiful as her. I was told I was too old – 13 - to start dancing. A year later I was discovered by a former national champion. He invited me to be his partner and before long we were vice-champions of Bulgaria, representing the country in Blackpool and many other international events. Needless to say, I was designing and making all my costumes.
When the time came for me to attend university, after being denied the right to become a painter (“We won’t allow you to become a starving artist!” said my Mother), I somehow managed to make the case that Fashion Design did have a practical application and the best place to study that craft was … Buenos Aires.
The University of Buenos Aires was a great, wild, artistic experience. Lots of drawing, lots of Tango, not enough sleep…. Within a year I was prepared for pretty much everything I would have to face from then on. I always wanted bigger and better, even before coming to America. I was lucky enough to transfer to Los Angeles and continue studying Fashion Design on a full scholarship. As you can see, all the sewing paid off!
After 3 years in Los Angeles, I came to feel that city wasn't enough. I yearned for something…. more.
My dance partner and I were hired to dance at a New Year’s Party in San Diego. It was the usual - lots of dancing, champagne and a huge TV showing New Year’s parties from all over the world. As the crystal ball in New York City’s Times Square slid slowly down the pole marking the last seconds of an Old Millennium, I became hypnotized, watching it descend as if in slow motion. Then and there I knew that city was mine! I clearly had to move there for absolutely no reason. Four months later the sewing machine, my faithful mannequin “Ophelia” and I landed safely at JFK. I had no job, no place to live, some vague Bulgarian acquaintances and $371.00 to my name. Success was inevitable and the rest is history. I could tell you all about it in greater detail, but I’d rather you look at the designs, images and videos available here on Staykova.com.
One last thing, never forget: Life is always more fun in a costume.
Read about Kristina's Dance Journey