The fluid silhouettes and signature drapes of Greek-born, Italy-based Angelos Bratis graced the catwalk of the Mercedes-Benz China Fashion Week in Beijing on Monday. An opportunity to reach a broad new audience, the Spring/Summer 2016 show was part of efforts made by Italy's fashion body, the Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana, to assist its young designers to enter fresh markets.
Established in 1997, so far the Beijing event has hosted over 450 designers from more than 10 countries.
Born in Athens in 1978, Bratis grew up in his seamstress mother's atelier before enrolling at a local fashion school. He earned a master's degree at ArtEZ Institute of the Arts in Amsterdam, moved to Rome for a while and returned to Greece to develop his own working studio.
The financial crisis and ensuing recession forced the designer to leave Greece behind once again and return to Italy. In 2011, he won the “Who Is on Nest” competition developed by Vogue Italia editor Franca Sozzani and designer Silvia Venturini Fendi.
In 2014, Bratis presented his summer collection at Teatro Armani, the Milanese cultural complex dedicated to fashion maestro Giorgo Armani, designed by Japanese star architect Tadao Ando.
On the eve of the Beijing show, the designer spoke to Kathimerini English Edition.
Italy picked a Milan-based, Greek-born designer to represent the country in China. The move might seem straightforward as far as the fashion industry is concerned, but could you explain its significance to a fashion outsider?
I think it's old news to consider nationalism in fashion. In the era of instant communication and working in a global, unique market your roots as a designer is your DNA, but this doesn't limit you between borders. The Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana selected an emerging Italian brand to show in China, not a Greek designer.
Is the Camera Moda covering your expenses?
Camera Moda, together with Alcantara, our main sponsor, are giving me an enormous opportunity to present my work in a virgin market for our brand, which at the same time is one of the fastest-growing and most forward-looking markets in the world.
What could a Chinese catwalk appearance mean to your business and your image as a designer?
As a designer born in Greece I have always felt connected with ancient civilizations and cultures that managed to survive and emerge in the modern world. China represents for me tradition, power, craft and fragility. It is also the mother of silk, a fundamental material of my work as a draper.
Within this platform of exposure I would like to turn the Chinese press lights on to our brand and hopefully attract new retailers that can carry the Angelos Bratis aesthetics to Asia. It will be also a dream to collaborate with master silk manufacturers and transform refined antique fabrics into modern Western pieces of clothing.
Besides the exciting Chinese development, how is your business a year after showing at Teatro Armani?
The show at Teatro Armani was a great spotlight for buyers. We are now selling at big department stores such as Rinascente Milano and Beymen in Turkey and in many other stores around Europe and the Middle East. New collaborations include an international publicity campaign for Wella hair products for 2016 and a special edition Barbie dressed in Angelos Bratis evening wear.
Could you describe the 2016 summer collection's main points and inspiration?
In Milan, we presented the new collection in a maze of triptych mirrors creating the illusion of a labyrinth while blending interior and exterior views. This season I cut pois on bias playing with mathematical order, geometry and arithmetic, while rhombus patterns form a structure for the draping of the garments.
The absolution of the circle was the basis for the collection which was cut in soft materials such as silk crepe and Alcantara with a laser cut technique.