Of all the West 18th Street Fashion Show designers I've met thus far, Nataliya Meyer has come the farthest -- literally. Meyer is 27, and she moved here from her native Ukraine seven years ago.
Meyer is a fun conversationalist, not only because of her accent but because her thoughts spill out in such an unselfconscious manner.
"I love history, so I love making corsets, but I'm trying not to get stuck on corsets," she says. "Girls are so taken by it. I try to feed them what they want."
Meyer has been drawing clothing designs since she was a child and her mother occupied her with a pencil and paper.
"We are from a very poor background, but do not feel sorry for me," Meyer says sternly. "I am where I want to be today."
Meyer says she was an awful student, and she was kicked out of school at age 14 for piercing her nose. She was sent to trade school rather than traditional high school, which doesn't carry the same stigma in the Ukraine as it sometimes does in the U.S.. "It's not so much a bad thing," she says. "You can still go to college after."
In trade school, she got a tailoring degree. "I've been sewing since I was 15," she says. When she first arrived in Kansas City, she found work as a freelance tailor, picking up jobs when storefront shops had more business than they could handle. She fell in love and got married to her husband, who works as a driver for UPS. "Nothing fun," she says, "but he is an amazing man."
Meyer wears huge heels, 24/7. "In Ukraine, women go on public transit in full makeup and heels," she says. While she hasn't adopted Kansas City's casual style, she's taken full advantage of our Midwestern hospitality, and says she's eternally grateful for all the help she's had in her transition to this city.
"I just want to say that I feel that my adoption to this country, citizenship-wise, is an adoption that was successful," Meyer says. "I am happy, and I am at home."
You can see more of Meyer's designs on her MySpace page, and on the runway tomorrow.