I was born in Minsk, Belarus, when it was still part of the Soviet Union. My love for art came very early in my life. I started drawing and painting at the age of 6. Becoming a fashion designer was not a random decision. Fashion has been my biggest dream since I was a child. I decided that it is better to pursue my dream later than never. Looking at where I am now, I believe things happened at the right time for the right reason. I do not regret that my fashion career did not begin when I was sixteen. I grew up with my mother and grandmother who were immensely talented in sewing, knitting, crocheting, or any other handcraft you can name. They even made rugs!
My mom worked full time as a physicist at the Academy of Sciences in Minsk. To make an extra income, she completed a two-year course in sewing where she learned how to sew to perfection and build patterns from scratch. I remember her coming home every day from work, and after dinner she would sit behind the sewing machine until midnight making clothes for extra income. I grew up around fashion magazines and books. I knew the feel of fabric from a very early age and could easily distinguish natural fibers from synthetic or chemically produced. My grandmother taught me how to knit at the age of seven, and I learned how to sew when I was a teenager. I started sketching my own outfits when I was a child, and my mom was the one who implemented my crazy ideas. Ironically she continues successfully doing it now. Every season I give her a project to create a dress for the runway. Without her I would never be where I am now; she is my idol and my biggest inspiration.
I do not have formal fashion education or fashion degree beyond four courses that I tool at OTIS College of Art and design. I consider myself a natural born artist. Prior to coming to the United States, I taught Library and Information Science at the Belarusian University of Culture. In 1994, I was awarded a scholarship from USIA – United States government – to study for my Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science at Louisiana State University. I then worked for four years at the Michigan Technological University as a librarian and web manager. Later on, I spent more than a decade working as Web manager for Whittier College and as an adjunct librarian for Rio Hondo College. For the past five years I have been working full time as a Web interactive services manager at Claremont McKenna College. I literally can say that I have never worked outside of the world of academia, except for my fashion filled evenings and weekends.
In June 2013, I flew to my home country of Belarus with two bags full of fabric and leather with the goal that in one month I would produce my first collection. Coincidentally exactly the same time Mamont Avat-garde festival took place in Minsk, and I was invited by the producer to show my collection on June 17th. This was the beginning of my fashion career and my first in life fashion show. I launched a line of women’s clothing called CONTRAST, interplay of bold colors and contrasting textures in leather, silk-chiffons, and Belarusian linen.
Later on in the fall of 2013 I competed at RAWards, and was chosen to be one of three finalists for Designer of the Year in Los Angeles. In September 2013 Los Angeles Times wrote a feature article on me. This was the beginning of my fashion career.
2.) What are the aesthetic of your designs?
The name of my line is “CONTRAST.” I consider myself a child of the world. I design for different cultures, races, and nationalities. Fashion and glamour unite all cultures and races. I always make sure that I represent all races and nationalities through my models on world runways as well as fashion editorials. I continue working with natural fibers such as silks and chiffons; I love the flow and feel of light fabrics. It is also a reflection of freedom for me. In my work, I have tried to contrast contemporary Los Angeles glitz and glamour with a vivid ancestral past in rural Belarus. My heritage culture is very important to me. As you look at my designs, you will see that they are rooted in the styles of Belorussian folk dresses from my youth with a modern twist. I provide a cosmopolitan, playful blend of colors and textures inspired by my fearless personality. When people wear my clothes, I hope they will feel a connection with people everywhere; that we are all citizens of the world. My collection is inspired by my tremendous passion for travel and learning about other cultures. Bold bright colors and shapes as well as color-blocking elements derive from my long-time admiration for the work of Russian artist Wassily Kandinsky and Belorussian-French artist Marc Chagall.
3.) What are you currently working on?
Currently I am working on a collection of dresses and gowns. I am not giving details as I like to surprise when I reveal my art on the runways and in fashion editorials.
4.) Grammys are this weekend what’s your favorite part as a designer?
I am very excited to see the 60th GRAMMY Awards this coming Sunday, January 28th. I watched many nominees music videos. It is fascinating to see how singers and musicians express themselves through fashion. I absolutely love Kelly Clarkson – Love So Soft Official video:
What an amazing use of colors, cinematography, storyline and incorporation of fashion.
5.) Anything else we should know? What’s next for you or new projects in 2018?
I have been published in many international magazines including VOGUE UK, GLAMOUR UK, GQ UK, House of Coco, and TATLER UK. Featured in the Los Angeles Times, Whittier Daily News, Elements magazine, Magazine MADAME (Dubai), Elegant Magazine, OBSCURAE, En Vie (Japan), Dreamingless (UK), and several other publications, I believe in soaring high with my personal style statement. My collections have been seen on the runways in Los Angeles, London, Dubai, Vancouver, Minsk and Orange County. Most recent show was with LAFS at LA Fashion week. you can see the video from the show at: http://www.tatianashabelnik.com/content/springsummer-2018
I am very proud and honored to be one of the Elephantasia designers. The Elephantasia Project is a collaborative effort between different international designers in hopes of raising awareness and funds to protect African elephants. As part of Elephantasia, my dresses were on the runways at Vancouver and London Fashion Week. One of the dresses was commissioned by Dr. Kirstin Johnson, the Director of African wildlife foundation for the TUSK BALL hosted by Prince Charles in London. Project was recently covered twice by the UK VOGUE and by the New York Times.
You can find Tatiana at:
Click link for video- http://www.tatianashabelnik.com/content/springsummer-2018
Model: (on the right) Sara Ishag
Make-up: Trinidad De Leon
Hair: Kenney Bohorquez
2. Photographer – Ernie Tyler
Fashion designer: Tatiana Shabelnik
Models: Christina Wen, Natalie Oden, Elena Nesterova
Creative Director: Maksim Leonov
Hair stylist: Waatanie Norris
Make-up: Vastie Castellanos and Ana Sevilla
3. Photographer: Max Aria
Model and creative director: Maksim Leonov
Fashion designer: Tatiana Shabelnik
4. Photographer: Daniel Pham
Model: Tiffany Nicole Brevard
Fashion designer: Tatiana Shabelnik
Creative director: Maksim Leonov
5. Photographer and Fashion Designer – Tatiana Shabelnik
Model – Sara Ishag