One country, two fashion weeks?

For the first time ever, Greek fashion designers are about to show their work collectively. Unfortunately, they will do so not during one fashion week, but two. Organized by D.I. Moda Athena, the first event is taking place at the Hellenic World Cultural Center (254 Pireos Street) from October 14 to October 17. Whether with catwalk shows or installations, the three-day event will showcase the work of the younger generation on the first day, ready-to-wear designers on the second and haute couture on the last. Besides a variety of local talent – ranging from relative newcomers Maria Miha and Matalou to established names, such as Nikos – Takis by Harris – Ilias, and Costas Faliakos by Christos Petridis – the event also features foreign designers, including Portuguese designer Fatima Lopes, Nelyda Acosta from Mexico, Turkish Umit Unal and Cypriot Pantelis Mitsu. A number of accessory designers will also show their work. «I have been working on this idea for three years, since the time I worked at London Fashion Week,» said Ioanna Darakli, D.I. Moda Athena’s director, to Kathimerini English Edition. «I was talking with the chairman of the LFW’s board, who, at the time said that, apart from one or two names, he didn’t know of any Greek designers, so I decided to come back to Greece and to work on this project.» According to the company, expected to attend the October shows are buyers from France (Paris), Italy (Rome and Milan), Britain, India and Bulgaria. Also expected are members of the Italian, Spanish, French and British press. In the aftermath of the challenging and eventually successful Athens Olympics, Darakli believes that the time is ripe for such an event; she also hopes that it will attract tourists. Meanwhile, the Hellenic Fashion Designers Association (HDA) has also announced its own event, «Athens Collections Preview,» scheduled to take place at the beginning of November. According to the union, while offering a glimpse of what its members are preparing for the Summer 2005 season, it will also act as a forerunner to the Greek fashion body’s debut fashion week which has been announced for March, 2005. «The preview will offer a new dimension to how Greek designers view themselves,» said Giorgos Eleftheriadis, HDA’s vice president, to Kathimerini English Edition. «Our aim is to present a professional face, but beyond that, to show that we have a signature, a point of view.» Similarly to D.I. Moda Athena, the upcoming preview also aims at attracting buyers and the press from both Greece and abroad. According to Eleftheriadis, the three-day event will not only showcase a plethora of signature styles but will do so in a novel way. Instead of the more traditional catwalk shows, visitors will see what designers have to offer through a multifaceted and interactive event based on repetitive video presentations. «We wish to build a new relationship between the public and our subject,» said Eleftheriadis. Established earlier this year, the HDA aims to upgrade the profession back home while placing Greece on the world fashion map. It’s a complicated matter. The association’s 36 members are not all necessarily in the same type of business: Some are struggling to find their way, while others have long been established. Some are looking abroad for business opportunities and recognition, while others are content to work locally, building a faithful clientele. Are Greek designers working according to the rules of the global fashion industry? A number of designers and fashion houses are showing their Spring/Summer 2005 collections in Milan this week. How many Greek designers have already designed and developed their offerings for next year’s summer? Luring the globetrotting fashion folk who attend fashion weeks in various cities around the world – but especially those in the four capitals of fashion, namely Paris, Milan, New York and London – to Athens is no easy task. And in this case, having to choose between two separate events will not help. In the case of Moda Athena, judging from the list of participating designers, it is clear that although a variety of styles will be presented, the core of what is really going on today in Greek fashion will be represented by a limited number of designers. If Greek fashion as a whole is ever to get its foot in the world door, it should not be looking for its own 15 minutes but rather at a carefully constructed, long-term strategy that will evolve around its professionals, the private and public sectors as well as a specialized press. To do so, it will have to show, one, united front.