Monday February 2, 2015 Search
Weather | Athens
16o C
13o C
News
Business
Comment
Life
Sports
Community
Survival Guide
Greek Edition
Foundations of marriage, and an exhibition

A wedding gown created by couturier Jean Desses, worn by Elissavet Kominou-Papastratou in 1951.Below: a Kifissia wedding look reflecting the tradition of late 19th-century Mesogia villages.

By Elis Kiss

Brides may be the stars of all weddings, yet their big day attire hasn’t always reflected their personality and sense of style.

Following the Greek War of Independence, for instance, a wedding ceremony was an occasion for brides-to-be to acquire a set of new clothes, while in certain parts of the country women were encouraged to wear their wedding gear in public until giving birth to their second child. Later on, in the 20th century, wedding dresses followed the fashion flair of the times.
 
Tradition, customs and fashion history through wedding garments is the subject of “Brides,” an exhibition currently on display at the Benaki Museum's Pireos Street annex. Running to April 6, the show is organized by the Peloponnesian Folklore Foundation. 

A long thread of creativity connects a Kifissia wedding look – reflecting the tradition of late 19th-century Mesogia villages, the elaborate outfit includes the “foundi,” a sleeveless cotton chemise, and a net of gold beads, known as the “yiordani” – to a Madame Gres wedding confection – the French couturier was known for her pleated garments – worn by Fani Dimitrakoudi in the 1980s. What lies between them are changes in lifestyles and perceptions, such as the establishment of a white color palette, for example, as the wedding gown choice. The idea comes from Queen Victoria, who opted to wear a favorite white dress when she married Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha in 1840.

“Our initial idea was highly ambitious, the exhibition was meant to cover the entire Mediterranean region and highlight the similarities that exist across the basin, irrespective of language and religion,” said Ioanna Papantoniou, a leading costume designer, costume historian and founder of the Nafplio-based foundation. “Unfortunately, we did not succeed in finding the necessary sponsorship and so we had to limit our scope.”

Instead, Papantoniou, who curated the show, and her dedicated team decided to honor the brides and friends of the foundation who had donated wedding garments to its permanent collections. In this way the show takes on a personalized dimension as the garments making up the exhibition's central display are accompanied by a small portrait and the maiden name of each bride. Following a fresh influx of donations in the aftermath of the exhibition's opening, organizers are expected to host a special gala event featuring the new bequests prior to the show's closing.

In the meantime, on display at the Benaki annex is the curator's own wedding dress, a garment based on a model by French couture house Balmain and executed by the Georgette fashion house in Athens. It was worn by Papantoniou on January 20, 1956.

The wedding gown panorama traces the roaring 1920s, with a short gown worn by Olga Fitsiou in 1924, the refinement of pre-World War II style as reflected in a Mady Donnet model worn by Aspasia Makarova in 1936 and the elegance of the 1950s as seen in an elongated jacket worn over a tulle skirt, created by couturier Jean Desses – the Paris-based Alexandrine designer of Greek descent – worn by Elissavet Kominou-Papastratou in 1951.

“Brides” also highlights the work of prominent Greek designers spanning the 20th century: a “wave” model by the house of Tsouchlos worn by Manto Karamessini in 1950; a wedding gown by the Tsopanelli house worn by Eleni Stassinopoulou in 1957; along with embroidered wedding gowns by Yannis Vouros (for Katerina Kanaki in 1979), the house of C. Mavropoulos (for Sia Divani Drepanopoulos in 1973) and Nikos-Takis (for Cleo Kalogeropoulou in 1975).

Besides celebrating beauty and diversity, the show is part of a series of events marking the foundation's 40 years. It also follows in the footsteps of previous exhibition projects, most notably “Ptychoseis – Folds and Pleats,” a 2004 display credited with putting fashion on the local museum radar. Tracing drapery from antiquity to 21st-century fashion, the show was part of the Cultural Olympiad, a series of events organized in view of the Athens Olympic Games.

At the same time, Papantoniou is also curating “Patterns of Magnificence: Tradition and Reinvention in Greek Women’s Costume,” an exhibition opening at the Hellenic Center in London on February 4. Running to March 2, the exhibition is organized in memory of Koula Lemos and brings together garments from around Greece, illustrating the fusion of local sartorial tradition with the Western aesthetic.

Back at the Benaki display, a collection of snapshots and official wedding day photographs can be viewed on the exhibition hall's walls, comprising a lively mural of the displayed garments, the women who wore them and wedding guests. What makes a marriage between two people successful is often debatable, but an inspiring wedding garment seems like a fitting start.

The Benaki Museum is organizing a series of guided tours of “Brides” on February 8, 15 and 22, March 8, 15 and 29 and April 5. The tours start at 12.30 p.m. at a supplementary cost of 2 euros. Following Athens, the exhibition is expected to travel to Nafplio's Fougaro cultural complex. For more information, go to www.benaki.gr.

[Kathimerini English Edition]
 

ekathimerini.com , Thursday Jan 30, 2014 (17:24)  
Tribute to Nikos Kessanlis, a pioneer and great teacher of Greek art
Renowned Greek singer Demis Roussos, 68, dies
Tight election campaign prompts copycat ads
Revisiting Hydra with Panayiotis Tetsis
The irrational crackdown on an Athenian food truck
On a recent Saturday night in the downtown neighborhood of Thiseio, a police car pulled over in front of Giorgos Glynos's Food Truck. A second police car, this time with screaming sirens, fo...
Greek health cuts a matter of life and death on Samos
Greece's economic woes mean that paramedics on the picturesque island of Samos are increasingly faced with the terrible dilemma of who to save and who to leave to die. On Sunday, Greeks vote...
Inside Community
Inside Gastronomy
Inside Travel
SPONSORED LINK: FinanzNachrichten.de
SPONSORED LINK: BestPrice.gr
 RECENT NEWS
1. Deputy PM Dragasakis confident ECB will not cut liquidity for Greek banks
2. Reds stretch lead as Panetolikos upsets PAOK
3. Three Greek athletes earn tickets to Prague
4. Varoufakis counting on ECB as Sapin says Greece needs new contract with eurozone
5. Piraeus port U-turn will not hurt China investment: analysts
6. Cash may dry up earlier than thought
more news
Today
This Week
1. Dijsselbloem says Greece has to decide how to move ahead
2. Greece shakes Europe's political kaleidoscope: expect the unexpected
3. France open to easing Greek debt burden, says finance minister
4. The dogma and the command center
5. Greece offers olive branch to seek allies
6. Poll shows most Germans want Greece to stay in eurozone
Today
This Week
1. Greek Elections 2015 | LIVE
2. SYRIZA heads for historic victory but without majority
3. EU must accept that Greek debt relief is inevitable
4. SYRIZA's win will test institutions
5. Greek Elections 2015: The day after | LIVE
6. Athens may veto further EU sanctions against Russia
   Find us ...
  ... on
Twitter
     ... on Facebook   
About us  |  Subscriptions  |  Advertising  |  Contact us  |  Athens Plus  |  RSS  |   
Copyright © 2015, H KAΘHMEPINH All Rights Reserved.