CULTURE

The art of mixing and matching high society

Public relations is not for you if you’re not the friendly type, but in the case of Giorgos Davlas, the medium becomes the message. A flamboyant and outspoken Greek PR man with an impressive resume of organizing events, Davlas calculates that, so far, he has organized and helped organize no less than 3,650 events – three of which have been spectacular failures. A friend of the late Diana, Princess of Wales, Davlas has been spotted lunching with Nancy Reagan and dining with Betsy Bloomingdale in New York and having tea with Hillary Clinton in Athens. «I’m not necessarily best friends with the rich and famous, but I’ve had a fulfilling life so far,» says Davlas in a rare moment of tranquility at home. Whether attending a black-tie charity gala in Venice or walking barefoot on Myconos, he is well known for his skills as an entertainer – of those who count. «I have a love-hate relationship with my job,» says Davlas. «One day I love it, and the next day I despise it because of all the crazy things I hear.» However crazy things may sound and seem, Davlas puts personal contact first – be it a phone call or singing an aria at the end of dinner. Are beautiful people the same all over the world? «Hollywood makes its stars globally known, while our local star-system makes them globally unknown,» he says. Yet in-house show biz has never been more profitable – the success of local tabloid press attests to that. «There were paparazzi in the old days but there is no quality these days,» says Davlas, adding that he is not interested in seeing private lives, however famous, exposed. Yet it is people like Davlas who have sustained (and helped feed) the demand and supply for local society columns. «I have contributed to making people who were completely unknown famous – not in their professional capacity – but in terms of their recognition as socialites,» says Davlas. «And I have made mistakes.» Born and raised in Athens, Davlas’s first and foremost passion was for classical music and opera. After high school he found himself in Lamia studying to become a teacher. «Instead of hanging around with my fellow students, I was socializing with the mayor and other local leaders, getting invited to their houses,» says Davlas. Following Lamia, he entered law school (though he never graduated) and finalized his classical music studies at the National School of Music – while also getting acquainted with local classical music aficionados. While he envisioned a career in singing, family and friends couldn’t help but notice the ease with which the young man flew in and out of all social circles. Well-known baritone John Modinos was one of them. «Modinos had promised to get me an appointment with Luciano Pavarotti. He delivered but kept telling me that I should get into public relations,» recalls Davlas. «When I finally met Pavarotti, his reaction was encouraging, but far from enthusiastic.» Facing the harsh reality that he was not destined for a stellar career at the world’s top opera houses, he started looking for ways to make ends meet. He took a job as a waiter at Aigli – a hub of Athenian social activity. Soon, he was handling Aigli’s face control, welcoming local VIPs from all social and professional strata: Constantine Mitsotakis, Dimitris Horn, Manos Hadjidakis and shipping magnates, among others. Aigli’s owner at the time encouraged him to throw his first party. Featuring national star Aliki Vouyiouklaki, among others, the evening proved a successful social mix-and-match and soon Davlas began making a name for himself – for getting the mix right. Two grandes dames of local and international society proved pivotal in his career: Chrysanthi Lemos in London and Doda Voridis in New York. After a brief stint in an advertising agency, he went solo. Today he is particularly proud of some of the events he has organized – such as an evening with Montserrat Caballe and Vangelis at the Zappeion Hall and a dinner offered by the National Gallery to raise funds for the purchase of an El Greco – and hopes to carry on with a certain good causes, including following up on a previous collaboration with 2004 Athens Organizing Committee President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki six months before the Games, as well as continuing to help with the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s fund raising. Meanwhile, in between events, he will carry on devouring biographies and history books, as well as watching documentaries. «My aim is to get people together, make them have a good time, promote their event and then put the fire out,» says Davlas. «And when I won’t be part of all this anymore, I’ll be a happy man drawing and playing the piano. Though I won’t be in the professional arena anymore, I will always be good company.»