Classic Greek style is founded on visions of the past: fluid, draped, goddess-style gowns. But a rising group of Athens-based designers are deftly proving that Greek creatives are capable of a whole lot more, from Blade Runner-style leathers and vixenish corsetry to minimalist, modern shift dresses. While traditional Greek style and aesthetics are among the most ancient in the world, this new wave is adding its own distinctly 21st-century stamp to the country’s fashion scene.
Panos Apergis, one of the the longest-established Athens-based fashion names, trained in Italy before setting up a base in the city and branching into accessories and theatre costume design. Apergis has embraced innovation in his handling of materials, with previous collections featuring dresses made from industrial rubber piping. Zinging colours and vivid print inspired by disparate cultural influences are something of a hallmark in his womenswear; these pieces are for the woman who wants to be noticed.
Let's hear it for the boys
Adopting a similarly uncompromising approach, Athens-based Sotiris Georgiou gives traditional menswear a theatrical twist by adding unexpected elements. Elongated charcoal wool coats are pinned with rows of coins, jacket arms are widened into cape-style flaps and shirts are re-worked to become draped and fluid. The designer also oversees collections for women, making sleek black dresses his signature, but it’s his menswear that remains his most striking contribution to Greek fashion.
Taking a more urban, street-style approach are designers Daphne Iliaki and Evi Retziou, who in 2009 formed Athens style label Delight. Monochrome dresses with graphic, geometric blocks, bold striped playsuits and dresses and pieces in easy grey jersey – the duo’s work has a definite ‘downtown’ appeal, while the short shapes cater to balmy Athens summers. A similar approach to warm-weather dressing dominates at Samantha Sotos, an Australian native who bases her design business in Athens. A certain Antipodean breeziness characterises her easy, relaxed womenswear – flowing gowns in cherry reds and primrose, draped, loose-fitting jackets in cool aqua and light cotton dresses. The designer, who cites Australian influence and Greek tradition as key to her style, has even expanded into a range of bridalwear.
That special day is the crux of Victoria Kyriakides’s business – she has built up a stellar roster of bridal dresses since launching her business in 1988. Alongside flowing ivory gowns covered in super-fine pleating and princess-pretty creations in clouds of tulle and silk, the designer also offers a ready-to-wear line that’s every bit as feminine. Soft pastels, ruffles and flounces dominate; this is occasionwear that caters to a wealthy Athens clientele.
For a designer who is relatively little-known outside his native Greece, Vassilios Kostetsos can cite an impressive array of A-listers who have opted for his vampish, theatrical womenswear – Kate Moss, Carla Bruni, Naomi Campbell and Destiny’s Child star Kelly Rowland have donned his creations. His pieces are decidedly bold and colourful – plumes of feathers on shoulders, bodices with metallic panelling and gowns with graduated colours of shocking pink and coral are all part of his high-octane repertoire. And not a Grecian drape or sandal in sight.