Tovah takes the catwalk to redemption
May 20, 2010
For Tovah Cottle, the teenage model from Brisbane who hit the global big-time only to fall from grace and into prison thanks to a destructive heroin addiction, such a time could well be now.
Clean and about to graduate fashion school, Ms Cottle was yesterday announced as the winner of a national design competition that has guaranteed her both a ticket to London and a new life not measured by her old one.
September, Ms Cottle and her winning avant-garde lingerie design will compete against 26 other international finalists in a bid for first place in the 2010 Triumph Inspiration Awards and the €15,000 worth of prize money that goes with it.
Having just returned from yesterday"s national finals in Sydney, the Moreton Institute of TAFE student said her head was still spinning.
"It"s pretty surreal,” Ms Cottle told brisbanetimes.com.au."I"m still coming to terms with the fact that this is happening.
"I"m excited, I"ve never been to London before and this is going to be a great opportunity."This latest victory follows on from Cottle"s win in the Student Design category of the Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival"s annual Fashions on the Field competition held at Doomben on the weekend.
It was the same blue ribbon that marked her official comeback last year.But while the recent acclaim and prospect of a stint in one of the world"s fashion capitals was exciting, Ms Cottle said the real victory would be the day she launched her first commercial clothing range.
While her heart lies with the same sort of avant-garde design responsible for her critical success, Ms Cottle said that real satisfaction would come from making a good living from great popular design.
"I"ll always want to create showpieces but that"s not the kind of thing you can make money from," she said."But the thought of one day starting my own label that"s sellable and having it picked up around the world ... that"s what I"m aiming for.”
Of course, the world domination can wait until exams are over – Ms Cottle has just six weeks left of her three-year Advanced Diploma in Fashion Design and said she"s keen to take on more study.Though she was walking the runways of the world by 17 before her drug addiction derailed her modelling career, it would take over a decade and a stint in jail before she got serious about sewing.
Convicted of drug and armed robbery offences, it was in prison that Ms Cottle was encouraged by a chaplain and former fashion teacher to follow her design dreams and enrol in school – advice that has lead her to the bright future she now faces.“I can always learn more,” Ms Cottle said.
“I really want to extend myself, to learn more about industrial design for example.”She said there were some programs in Europe that had captured her attention – but she wasn"t ready to leave yet.
“There"s still a lot left for me in Brisbane,” the young designer said. “I don"t see a reason to run off just yet.”