Photos by Carlo Raciti
Deconstructed men’s suits for millennials, a delicate Victorian-style dress revisited and 50s-styled comic prints proved to be highlights crafted by young Greek designers who showed their Autumn-Winter 2016-17 collections at Athens’ fashion week in April.
Day three of Athens Xclusive Designers Week (AXDW) is always dedicated to new designers hoping to break out, and this year’s event saw some very interesting arrivals, three of whom scooped up AXDW New Designers Awards.
Andry Anastasiou: Rural styling
Inspired by her great-grandfather’s suitcase, Greek-Cypriot designer Andry Anastasiou presented her AW 16-17 collection One Suitcase, So Many Journeys, which brought to mind a modern-day farmer attitude in shades of coffee and rose.
Key pieces included a dress with a flowing, scallop-edged cape-cum-skirt.
Valia Καστtrouny: Slinky and sheer
Designer Valia Καστtrouny, whose roots lie in the Cycladic isle of Paros, was all about slinky satins and sheer details.
Highlights included form-fitting velvet dresses and slim suits in black and deep red wine with plunging necklines, along with slinky silk beige dresses that oozed glamour.
Chloe Moumbaris: Salt of the earth
More reminiscent of Spring-Summer than Autumn-Winter, Greek-French designer Chloe Moumbaris’ design theme was closely focused on earthy, ethnic striped knits teamed with playful skirts and shorts.
Fotini LGK: Kill Bill cool
Geometry-loving Fotini Lagaki, of Fotini LGK, took the path of the modern-day samurai woman: a very Japanese design motif with Kill Bill attitude.
A minimalist collection, her key items were high-waisted skirts and trousers in monochromes and a couple of floor-length dresses in digital prints.
She happily took home the New Designers Best New Designer award.
TLΓΔ: Suits with room to think
In her debut collection, Despina Toulgaridou, the Dusseldorf-trained designer behind the label TLΓΔ, brought us oversized, cleverly-rethought men’s suits with cinched-in waists and super wide leg 40s-style trousers. They immediately brought me back to the New Romantics era of the ‘80s, but infinitely more elegant.
Not only do they look like they’re fun to wear, but they leave millennials – their target buyers – plenty of room to move. And dance, in this case.
Reflecting her generation’s desire to take the road less travelled, eschewing the oft-suffocating trappings of corporate life and cubicles in favour of casual chic and a mobile office, Toulgaridou’s suits are cool and exceedingly comfortable.
To show us just how funky these suits really are, a dreadlocked model put one through its paces, flipping down the catwalk and simply making the stiff, tight-fitting traditional suit look completely outdated and boring.
Not only are they stylish and smartly constructed, but these suits, crafted in thick wool, appear to be well-made.
The same applies for the women’s trench coats that Toulgaridou has intelligently reinterpreted.
When you need to be coming up with imaginative ideas for your start-up, why should you aim to fit the classic business dress mould? It’s both mentally and physically constricting.
It’s high time for an overhaul of office wear – including shoes – so that it works to free up the thought process.
Toulgaridou’s designs, which earned her the New Designers Best Catwalk award, go some way to addressing this and her designs were some of the best we’ve seen on AXDW’s new designers day in recent years.
Penelope Demetriou: Fearless finesse
Cypriot designer Penelope Demetriou’s slim-fitting pants-cum-mini-skirt, revealing a little thigh, was a highlight of her AW 16-17 collection, which also featured a lion head print throughout.
Maria Vytinidou: Putting the heat in knits
Chemist-turned-designer Maria Vytinidou, a familiar face on the AXDW catwalk, went for sexy shepherd chic knitted creations accented by checks and ethnic prints.
Her models pranced down the runway in black one-piece swimsuits, blingy costume jewellery and handwoven woolen dresses and pullovers.
Their heels were covered in lambskin and pom-poms, a frisky reference to Greece’s sheep herders. The only thing missing was bells.
Among Vytinidou’s standout creations was a salmon, black, orange and aqua Aztec-inspired woolen coat with frayed fringes.
Euphrosyne Vlassi: Once you go black
Designer Euphrosyne Vlassi decided to go all-black for her AW 16-17 collection with finely-pleated skirts, glittering bustiers and mini-dresses, lace skirts and fringed dresses. There was even a sparkly zip-up jacket for the boys.
Christina Teligiannidou: The future of femininity
London-based Christina Teligiannidou’s carefully and beautifully structured designs made her stand out as brightest young thing to take to the AXDW catwalk this year.
An ecru lace mini-dress with a stiff, layered skirt slightly reminiscent of the Victorian era, which moved beautifully with the body, was easily the most impressive piece I spotted at AXDW.
Equally feminine was a flowing pearl white dress with a ruched collar and puffed sleeves.
Surely David Bowie wouldn’t have hesitated to slip his slim frame into Teligiannidou’s flouncy, sheer, super sexy, layered black-one piece get-up in his gay heyday.
Chris & Tonia: ‘80s going strong
Violet, magenta and royal blue reigned in the collection of designer duo Chris Stratikopoulos & Tonia Varveri, known as Chris & Tonia, which borrowed ‘80s elements in the shape of pencil skirts and braces, crop tops and cheeky skirts.
Joy Koumentakou – Made by JK: Pop life
Joy Koumentakou, of Made by JK, won the New Designers award for Best Trendsetter – for the second year running – and deservedly so, as she showed creativity and imagination in her vivid, energetic pop designs, which she clearly had fun making.
Her slim-fitting dresses and skirts, which reflect the designer’s outgoing attitude, mix cartoon drama with giant hounds tooth check. And she has the bags to match, with phrases like “Become your own hero” emblazoned across them. She’s a firm believer that fashion should be fun.
When the weather’s damp and dark outside, these are the clothes we need to be wearing to put us in a good mood first thing in the morning. I’d definitely wear one of her suits to the office.
She was also one of the few who conveyed a consistent theme, in terms of design, style and fabrics, throughout her collection.
Not only are Koumentakou’s designs entertaining, they’re also very wearable – as long as you’re the only one at the party wearing it.
During the award ceremony, I looked across at the designer’s mother as she watched and waited with flashing dark eyes and smiling, fleshy cherry red lips, to hear whether her daughter would take home the honour.
Asking one of Koumentakou’s excited team members if the plastic lips that feature on certain pieces were inspired by those of the designer’s mother, she quipped: “No, but they could be!”
Marω Martzη: Hello Africa
As Lagos’ emerging fashion scene has fallen under the media spotlight in the last few years, Marω Martzη looked to Africa for inspiration for her geometric, futuristic, all-white collection.
Sure-footed models took to the runway in designs more reminiscent of Spring-Summer fashioned with unusual fabrics, with LED light details adorning some, and matching clogs.
MK by Marios: Designs on Dracula
Marios Karavasilis, the designer behind the label MK by Marios, took us all on a flight of fashion fancy that fitted like a glove for the twentysomething, Dracula-obsessed generation.
Modern-day medieval creatures in dramatic makeup, with blood trickling from the models’ eyes, and wrapped in theatrical floral prints on corduroy and rich velvet, with flashes of frilly lace, stalked the runway in a sort of Victorian era fantasy-horror movie.
There was one outfit that really stood out: an elaborate, ingenuously-cut dress with what gave the impression of a dragon’s tail snaking its way around the model’s left ankle as she walked, and full head-dress.
Only for the most daring fashionistas, I can imagine Lady Gaga in one of these slightly scary getups.
Athens Fashion Club Fashion School
Athens Fashion Club Fashion School closed the day’s shows with a presentation of hair styling and makeup trends from their students.
In between shows that evening, I chatted with the fresh-faced young trends editor – dressed like an ‘80s school girl – from the Italian edition of Vogue, who confided to me that she’s quite impressed with the work of the new generation of designers and feels confident about the future of Greek fashion.
So, Greece’s young designers must be doing something right.