CULTURE

The way of the clutch

In the space of a year, Georgina Skalidi went from fashion stylist to leather apprentice to accessories designer.

A few steps down a stairway in a Kolonaki corner building, Skalidi invites you to Ma Chambre ? her room. This is where in the last few months she has been showcasing her handmade clutch bags, including her signature asymmetric clutch, especially designed to be carried on one particular side and available in a variety of colors. This is where a contemporary spin is put on filtered theatrical elements which the designer says are inspired by French pre-war chic.

?Even though I studied fashion design, I don?t work according to fashion design rules. I take leather and mold it, a technique similar to ?moulage? in garments or like sculpting in art,? she said.

In a world where handmade items are increasingly hard to find, Skalidi?s efforts are an encouraging sign, with production already numbering in the hundreds and the designer?s constant search for fresh ideas, such as measuring the length of a bag against a chair, for instance, to accommodate her clients? practical needs.

Fabrics used include leather and ?antique? leather (aged skins which the designer recycles) as well as synthetics which may come with crocodile or snakeskin effects.

While initially she expected the store to draw a younger crowd, she was rather pleased to see more mature clients, women with fashion experience looking for something special. Either way, prices at Ma Chambre seem accessible: Signature clutches go for 60 to 90 euros, while prices for special orders can be higher.

?I always see bags through the eyes of a stylist; I don?t visualize a bag carried by a naked person, for instance. I imagine it in relation to the garments. In fact, I don?t give my bags to accessory stores but to clothes stores. I love fashion and I want my creations to become part of fashion,? said Skalidi.

The designer is looking into developing on the design level; she is currently working on something of a 3D approach with more volume, while not discarding the idea of coming up with shoe designs in the future.

Born and raised in Thessaloniki, Skalidi studied fashion at the LISAA College of Applied Arts in Paris before settling in Athens, where she built a career on styling, ranging from fashion editorials to CD covers and short films.

Two years ago she decided to focus on design and began by making clothes. She quickly turned to accessories, however, feeling that the industry was inundated by garments and that she had little to add to that discussion. She subsequently trained next to Haris, a legendary local leather accessories specialist. She observed the master for months before coming up with her own ideas ? and his approval.

?I think people like my bags because they have a sense of truth and optimism,? she said. ?It?s straightforward, not complicated, honest work.?

?Ma Chambre,? 71A Skoufa