CULTURE

Subversive luxury to walk on

Dukas Chatzidukas has a shoe fetish. It’s hardly surprising, therefore, that in the last few years the 28-year-old accessories designer has taken to designing a series of wild, sexy, cutting-edge footwear, befitting any postmodernist warrior princess. «I have always liked shoes, whether it had to do with me shopping for myself or for selecting items for styling; I felt that what was missing from the market was something with a twist – though not necessarily extreme,» says Chatzidukas. On a financial level as well, it is usually easier to purchase an exciting pair of shoes, rather than the whole outfit. «If you have good clothes on, you can’t wear the wrong shoes,» says Chatzidukas. «If the shoes are good, however, the clothes can be more low budget.» Or they can disappear completely, for many of Chatzidukas’s intricate pieces become the look’s centerpiece, instead of a fashionable finishing touch. Chatzidukas’s creative world is complex, featuring Gothic elements, without discarding Renaissance, street and rock. This is where crystal mixes with nails and leather with screws; where knots spring out of leather and plastic ruffles are based on couture techniques. «The shoes are fresh, new; I believe that they are subversive and get special attention when it comes to their manufacture,» says the designer. «They have unexpected combinations, which are usually seen in clothes, rather than shoes.» Before embarking on a career in fashion editing and styling for various Greek publications, Chatzidukas studied marketing in Athens. He also became a personal imagemaker, collaborating with Sony International and working with Greek singers such as Anna Vissi, Kaiti Garbi, Yiannis Kotsiras and Eleni Tsaligopoulou. In 2001 he formed a partnership with promising fashion designer Christoforos Kotentos, developing the Dukas/Kotentos shoe and accessories line, which complemented Kontentos’s core clothes collection. With Chatzidukas heading the design section – and coming up with themes such as a Mona Lisa collection or flexible pieces such as belts that turned into bags – the shoes and accessories were produced locally, traveling to local and international outlets – including celebrity-studded Fred Segal in Los Angeles. Following the end of his collaboration with Kotentos, Chatzidukas teamed up with Haniotakis SA, a 28-year-old Greek shoe manufacturing (and exporting) company. Today, the Dukas by Haniotakis label features shoes made in a local factory using Greek and foreign materials. For the designer, this partnership means enjoying a free creative hand supported by an appropriate industrial infrastructure. This winter, Chatzidukas came up with a predominantly black-and-white collection (with a few splashes of pink) of pointy footwear, featuring leather ruffles protruding out of the heel, including stilettos, flats, biker boots as well as stretch leather boots going all the way up to the upper thigh. «When things become very feminine,» says the designer, «I like to give them a hard edge.» For the upcoming spring/summer collection, the designer is working on plastic ballerina flats with colorful taffeta and chandelier Swarovski crystal as well as a novel take on the summer boot. Another part of the upcoming summer collection will be an accessory collection, including sandals and flats featuring the Meander motif. (Sponsored by Swarovski Hellas, the designer is working with an exciting crystal mesh material depicting the Greek pattern, in sweet pink and white, earthy peach and brown or timeless black and white, as well as experimenting with yet another Swarovski crystal – opaque white and pink alabaster.) Chatzidukas’s basic collection of what he defines as a subversive luxury ready-to-wear is distributed through a network of local and global outlets – from Paris, London, Monte Carlo and Marbella to South Africa, Italy and Japan; in Greece, footwear is available at stores such as First Athens and First Myconos, Galle and Baton Premier in Athens and Thessaloniki. This basic line is complemented by a slightly more extravagant, haute couture line, available by special orders. Who is Chatzidukas targeting with his creations? Any woman who wants to feel sexy and different, says the designer. «I believe that my audience begins with an 18-year-old hunting for a biker boot – when she can afford it – leading to a 65-year-old who enjoys the biker style for the evening. In the couture department, on the other hand, you’ll find more clients coming from the showbiz sector.» The clientele is bound to develop as the designer spreads his wings abroad, by showing his collections in Milanese showrooms and participating in international trade fairs and exhibitions. In June last year, he was one of a dozen up-and-coming designers financed by the Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana (Italian fashion’s ruling body) to present his collection during Alta Moda, the official haute couture week organized in Rome. The only Greek, he was also the sole designer to present footwear. Following his catwalk presentation (where models appeared in briefs), coverage included an appearance in the September issue of the Italian Vogue; currently, the designer is in touch with hip shoemaking brand Sergio Rossi concerning a possible collaboration. «In Greece, you can only be a local player – not an international one. When you go abroad, you really feel you’re in the heart of things, as opposed to being on the periphery. Here, when you come up with something, the impact is local; I can’t challenge buyers to come and find me here – they would only be coming for me,» says Chatzidukas. «I foresee myself becoming more dynamic abroad; I’d like to see more clients, and me being a more active member of the global fashion world.»