By Elis Kiss
His clothes never signaled a revolution in the daily lives of Greek women. He was no way near what anyone would describe as avant-garde. Yet in a country which never sought to bring together its industry and designer talent, Michalis Aslanis became one of the very few who succeeded in developing a world bearing his own signature.
From wedding gowns to cocktail numbers and eveningwear – essentially the backbone of the Greek fashion sector which was never able to turn its creative vision into fragrances and beauty products – to umbrellas, homeware and more, the Aslanis label reflected a highly successful four-decade ride.
As for the man himself, he was largely regarded as the soft-spoken, well-mannered and joyful designer of the local fashion scene, the one who always struck a happy pose at the end of each show as he stood among the towering models who were invariably part of his close circle of friends.
Away from the flashing cameras which incessantly follow the microcosm of local show biz with little in the way of compassion, few sought to discover the realities of his daily existence.
Like most of his colleagues, Aslanis was the star of an ongoing, multifaceted one-man show: A designer and an entrepreneur, he took on the role of an accountant and turned into an ad man when necessary, while all along keeping a close eye on the production of garments and accessories as well as scouting for sponsors for the next show.
It was a particularly tough mission for someone who adored colors, flowers and duchesse satin fabrics and spent a good portion of his time writing out and decorating by hand the invitations he would send out before each catwalk show.
His own universe was recorded in his numerous notebooks, where the countless designs for each season’s garments had in the last few years been increasingly accompanied by notes regarding pending business issues.
At his final (as it turned out) fashion show in March – within the framework of Athens Xclusive Designers Week – the catwalk was filled with several of his key looks, while according to reports he was working on a large-scale retrospective aimed at celebrating his 40 years in fashion in a show scheduled to take place in October.
In a country which never seemed to embrace the fashion it produces, but instead nurtured a huge appetite for the output of the gossip machine, Aslanis came under the spotlight, lived a big part of the dream and expressed an era which came to a sad and dramatic end.