CULTURE

Top designing Givenchy spot for Kokosalaki?

Is Sophia Kokosalaki heading to Givenchy? The prominent Greek designer is currently in talks with the celebrated French fashion house and is one of four candidates competing for the position of womenswear designer. The challenging news comes right after Kokosalaki designed a series of costumes for the opening and closing ceremonies of the Athens Olympics. Grand couture and ready-to-wear maestro Hubert de Givenchy established his house in Paris in 1952. A disciple of fashion’s great «architect,» Cristobal Balenciaga, Givenchy was soon conducting good business, while a year later he met a woman who largely defined his career: His enduring friendship with Audrey Hepburn helped shape the elegant 1950s through a series of stylish, landmark films including «Sabrina,» «Breakfast at Tiffany’s» and «Funny Face,» among others. In 1995, Givenchy decided to step down from the house that carried his name and which, by now, had been sold to luxury giant LVMH (Moet Hennessy-Louis Vuitton). With not too little fanfare, LVMH brought in fashion’s rising star of the time, John Galliano; the Central St Martins enfant terrible was about to fill the polished shoes of the retiring French gentleman who had dressed several generations of refined women. Galliano lasted a year at Givenchy – a more challenging position at Christian Dior turned out to be more attractive. At Givenchy, Galliano was replaced by yet another sensational talent, Savile Row-trained Alexander McQueen. In 2001, McQueen was replaced by Julien Macdonald – McQueen eventually joined the Gucci Group, essentially to concentrate on his own label. Born in Athens in 1972, Kokosalaki studied Greek and English literature at the University of Athens before joining Central St Martins for an MA in womenswear. The industry soon spotted her talents and Kokosalaki began presenting her collections during London Fashion Week. In 2000, she was contracted by Italian leather house Ruffo Research to design men’s and women’s collections for a year. Top designer positions at fashion powerhouses can be glamorous. They also require hard work. In the case of Givenchy, the job could entail designing at least six collections a year – including ready-to-wear and haute couture – as well as overlooking a series of, usually, lucrative accessories. Also, when contracting a designer, LVMH is known to buy a stake in the designer’s own business. Givenchy’s choice will be announced at the end of the Paris Spring/Summer 2005 collections in October. Meanwhile, after several seasons as a member of the official calendar of London Fashion Week, Kokosalaki is showing (off-calendar) her signature collection for Spring/Summer 2005 in Paris, on October 5. One way or another and irrespective of Givenchy’s final decision, the time has come for Paris to welcome the truly gifted, hard-working and highly dedicated Greek designer.