Greek Life: An Appreciation of the Top Hellenic Fashion Stars
August is the month when the fashion crowd can afford itself some rest in between the seasons and numerous collections, and I am no exception. I’m spending my vacation in Greece on the tiny island of Skopelos. Besides being one of the greenest islands in the Aegean Sea, Skopelos was the backdrop for the movie Mamma Mia! (a fact that has helped to increase the number of tourists). While spending time in Greece, I decided to research how influential this country is on the world’s fashion industry and to note the most interesting personalities who are from here.
The most famous contemporary designer of Greek origin is undeniably Mary Katrantzou (above). I once interviewed Mary’s mother, Catherine, who confessed that her daughter was “always terribly talented but nobody knew that she would be so hardworking. She was very lazy; she wouldn’t go to school and was always late. Then she started to do everything on her own: designing, running around after the customers. Mary even used to sleep under the bench where she did pattern cutting before her shows!”
A new star Greece can already be proud of is Angelos Bratis. Only a week ago it was announced that his upcoming show in Milan will be held at the Armani Teatro (Giorgio Armani is a huge advocate of promising creative talent, providing his famous theater in Milan to a young generation of designers). Bratis was born and trained in Athens. In July 2011 he won first prize in the Who Is On Next competition for emerging fashion designers. Needless to say, being a protégé of Armani’s will give Bratis more chances to win the hearts of the international fashion crowd.
Marios Schwab lives and works in London, but his roots are Greek, and you can sometimes see the traces of traditional Greek costumes in his designs. At the opening of Patterns of Magnificence: Tradition and Reinvention in Greek Women’s Costume at the Hellenic Centre in London, the designer confessed, “I have a real affection for these artifacts, which I so often refer back to.” In 2013 Schwab collaborated with another famous brand from Greece, Ancient Greek Sandals, founded by Christina Martini and Nikolas Minoglou. The label’s sandals are handmade locally by skilled craftsmen using traditional techniques, and its collections are inspired by the ancient Greek Gods, myths, pottery, jewelry, and sculpture.
Sophia Kokosalaki is another designer from Greece everyone should remember. She was born and raised in Greece and graduated from Central Saint Martins. Her bridal collection can be found at Net-a-Porter, and her ethical line Kore is sold at Asos. Previously she worked at the helm of Vionnet and Diesel Black Gold, but now she’s focused on her own brand.
Zeus + Dione, the brainchild of Mareva Grabowski and Dimitra Kolotoura, is inspired by the beauty and unparalleled richness of the Hellenic heritage. In an interview with Business of Fashion, the founders noted: “Greece has always been a really strong aesthetic influence for designers, but there’s never been a strong Greek fashion brand to genuinely champion it. We are that brand.”
Moving away from designers, when talking about Greece and its famous fashionistas, I must point your attention toward the one-in-a-million, brilliant Sophia Neophitou-Apostolou, editor in chief of 10 magazine. One of the most positive and open people among the fashion royalty, Neophitou-Apostolou works with Antonio Berardi, Roland Mouret, and Victoria’s Secret. Every year she spends her summer holidays in Greece to get back to her roots.
The most famous days of Greek culture may be centuries past, but contemporary fashion is certainly something this country can boast about.
Photo: Courtesy of Daria Shapovalova