'Never postpone something when you can do it now. It's the best piece of advice I've ever received,' says Russian-born, Belgian-raised Natalia Alaverdian, 35, the founder and Creative Director of the buzzy fashion label A.W.A.K.E. It goes some way to explaining her career path to date.
After five years as Fashion Director of Harper's Bazaar Russia, followed by a successful segue into photography, she changed tack to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming a designer by relocating to London and, in 2012, launching A.W.A.K.E. – which stands for All Wonderful Adventures Kindle Enthusiasm and has a growing fan base among the fashion pack (Caroline de Maigret, Miroslava Duma, Kim and Kanye, the list goes on).
Bird-like in stature, with a cascade of chestnut hair, she lives with her businessman husband, Anatoly, in a bijou-but-airy flat inside a converted warehouse in Shoreditch, east London. It's filled with vintage and antique finds that demonstrate her love of interior design (she favours Angel Antiques Market in nearby Islington), stacks of books, cherished photographs and quirkier pieces that showcase her penchant for all things futuristic.
'A.W.A.K.E. is a multi-referenced thing. In one piece or collection I can have 10 different references,' she says – and her home is just the same.
THE PHOTOS I KEEP CLOSE
I have lots of old family pictures. My mother, grandmother and grandfather have all passed away, so I keep them close. One shows my grandfather when he was serving in the second world war.
MY POWER RANGERS COLLECTION
I watched crazy Japanese cartoons growing up, and Power Rangers remind me of them. They're futuristic creatures, spacey and come in crazy colours. They're sitting on a cactus – they take care of themselves!
MY VINTAGE DISCOVERY
I love this African figure. It cost quite a lot from a vintage market but I just needed to get it. My husband makes fun of it and says it stares at him in a weird way!
MY ANTIQUE TEAPOT
I found this in a tiny Japanese shop in Angel, London. I bought it because I thought I could use it, but now I feel like I would ruin it, so I just keep it because it's so pretty.
THE SHOES I MAKE
These are from the SS16 and Pre-Fall 16 collection. I used to hate wearing my own designs, it felt wrong. But the more I design, the more confident I become.
MY EIGHTIES JACKET
This A.W.A.K.E. jacket is really me and I wear it over a plain sweatshirt. It has a space-cowboy feel.