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Croatians abroad: New York-based designer Sylvio Kovacic

Sylvio Kovacic

In this feature, we share stories of Croatians doing good things in different fields in communities around the world. Today we meet Maestro fashion designer Sylvio Kovacic.

Born in Frankfurt, Germany of Croatian heritage, Sylvio left Croatia for New York 18 years ago for what was originally going to be a holiday. 

Plans soon changed after a visit to the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg, Florida which led to a meeting with Michael Milkovich, who was director of the museum at that time.

“Honestly, I was slightly lost in space when I arrived in the US,  but on my second day I got some courage and got on a bus and went to downtown St. Pete and started exploring,” Sylvio says, adding that not knowing the language or anybody in town made it daunting. 

Despite missing his family, friends, Croatian life and his mum’s cooking, he slowly started to make friends and fell in love with America which led him to stay and eventually move to New York and pursue a career in fashion. 

“After enjoying my life, working and partying I realised that I was smarter than that so I decided to go back to school. I went for an interview in fashion but with a doubt if I had made the right choice. On 04.07.2007 at 8:30 am I was sitting in the class but there was no teacher in the class.  Then 30 minutes into the class one of the elder gentleman sitting with us got up, went to the board and wrote his name.. Charles Irvin and said: “My name is Charles Irvin, I am your fashion illustration instructor and you will never see me sitting in the teachers seat because as much as you will learn from me, I will learn from you. The students in the class started laughing because most of them did not understand what Mr. Irvin meant by that, but to me he said: “We are all the same”, down the line, this simple sentence changed my life and every time I go to do some work with celebrities I remember what Mr. Irvin said,” Sylvio recalls. 

Sylvio at work

After a stint working in fashion, Sylvio quickly realised that he would do much better going out on his own and started his own company.

“Over the years I realised that not only can I call myself a fashion designer but I am also a tailor, seamstress … this made me start with a brand new concept in fashion history called Maestro Couture. Believe me, working 20 hour days, 7 days a week and you still struggle and you still don’t give up… … that’s what’s needed to make it in this industry. At the moment I have some of the biggest names in the fashion industry as my clients and they trust me from tailoring many Haute Couture pieces to making them custom Maestro Couture pieces,” he explains. 

Sylvio’s creation

Sylvio says that once he moved to New York he had a mission to become one of the biggest designers in the world and he does not plan on stopping until he reaches his goal.

“I love what I do and I do what I love. If you don’t love what you do, please do yourself a favour and walk away from it. This is the most important for a healthy career,” he says, before adding. 

“You know, people say: If you make it in NY, you can make it anywhere in the world. I would have to disagree with that comment. I believe the best place to make it in the world is in NY because everything is there… From models, photographers, hair stylist, make up stylists, stylists, locations. And the most important the energy of the city that never sleeps.”

Sylvio’s work

Sylvio has come a long way and he still has not forgotten his roots.

“I am just a kid from the mountains of Croatia. But I knew I had something in me because my mother and my father are nothing but the most amazing parents I could ever ask for. I visit Croatia but not as often as I would like. I promised myself and my mother that I will start visiting more often and finally enjoy the beauty of our beautiful Croatia more,” he says. 

“I wish I could say I live a dream life but the thing is I never dreamed of any of it that I live now. I live life above the dreams and it’s only getting better and better,” Sylvio concludes. 

Sylvio Kovacic

You can check out his work on his website www.sylvio.nyc or on Instagram. 

If you have a similar story or know any Croatians (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th…generation) doing good in the community where you are and would like to share then please get in touch by email: [email protected] 

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