Baby boon for Zhivago pair

Less than two months after the arrival of the first "baby Zhivago", Lydia Tsvetnenko and Lara Kovacevich are in the throes of launching their winter collection.

As the two halves behind Perth label Zhivago, Tsvetnenko and Kovacevich have already dressed the likes of Mel B, Emma Booth, Nicole Trunfio, The Veronicas, Sarah De Bono and Jessica Bratich in the two years since launching at Perth Fashion Festival 2011.

Despite the addition of six-week-old Max Alice to their Applecross studio – which will one day be knocked down and rebuilt as a home for Tsvetnenko and millionaire husband Zhenya Tsvetnenko – the designers are in full swing working with three collections and have another three up their sleeve.

"I was straight back into it," Tsvetnenko said.

"We just keep going as usual. She's here with us so I get to have the best of both worlds. I'm very lucky."

The 33-year-old mother-of-one said taking time off had never crossed her mind.

"I'm not one to sit at home anyway, I like to be busy," Tsvetnenko said.

Adopting a baby into their daily routine was easy for Kovacevich, who said she considered the Tvetnenkos as family and had to tell her business partner when to slow down.

"I already call myself Auntie Lara," Kovacevich said.

"Max is only six weeks (old) and already Lydia looks so good!

"I have to tell her to go home and go to bed. She'll have been up all night with the baby but say "No, I have to get this jacket finished!"

Zhivago, a name harking back to Tsvetnenko's Russian heritage and the character "Lara" from the  Russian revolution story Dr Zhivago that Kovacevich was named after, is undergoing a surge in popularity on the east coast and the pair are attending both Melbourne Fashion Festival and Fashion Festival Sydney this year.

The designers, who finish and tweak each piece by hand, are also looking to expand to New Zealand and the US and have almost ticked off their goal of dressing Lady Gaga on the red carpet.

"Earlier this year we were approached by some of Gaga's entourage while they were in Perth," Kovacevich said.

"They saw some of our clothes in Melbourne and said they "almost died" and the end result was they requested a wardrobe for Gaga.

"She took it all and loved it so we need to keep an eye out."

Providing wardrobes for stars had paid off well for the brand; Kovacevich previously spotted former Spice Girl and reality TV judge Mel B wrapped in Zhivago in LA.

"We gave Mel B some stuff for The X Factor and she only wore one thing but her stylist said she really liked the rest of it, so we gave it to her and forgot all about it," Kovacevich said.

"I follow her on Twitter and the next minute she's at the Salt 'N' Pepa concert wearing one of our dresses and she's at The X Factor backstage in LA in one of our gowns. So that's pretty cool."

After their new battle-wear inspired line of metallics, mesh and leathers lands on March 15, the pair have their sights set on an overseas trip that's "partly business and partly pleasure".

"We've been pulled for Britain's Next Top Model and Danni Minogue, to make some pieces for her because she's a judge on there," Kovacevich said.

"We want to use that to expand into London, our label is very high street."

Kovacevich stumbled into designing though fashion events management, while Tsetvenko started by sewing her own PVC pants and boob tubes when she was young.

"Lydia and I complement each other," Kovacevich said.

""We'd only hung out half a dozen times before we went into business together. We got each other straight away."

Now the duo, who both started as interns, are helping the next wave of designers work their way through the cut-throat industry.

"It's really the way you get your foot in the door," Lara said.

"Most places use them for free labour, but we have a plan of attack where week by week we teach them about every facet of the industry. We're really trying to nurture new talent."

While they might have their sights set on distant shores, they say Perth will always be home.

"Obviously we care the most about Perth," Tsvetnenko said.

"We'll never forget how much Perth has supported us, we won't turn our backs on Perth ever."

The story Baby boon for Zhivago pair first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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