CULTURE

Positive words from style VIPs bode well

Participating in the event at the Zappeion Hall was a group of fashion professionals from abroad. Ranging from correspondents from Japan’s Harper’s Bazaar and the daily fashion industry trade paper Senken Shimbun to France’s authoritative Journal du Textile, the group attended shows and exchanged views with local fashion folk. For US-born and Paris-based fashion icon Diane Pernet, the Athens experience was shared online with avid readers of her www.ashadedviewonfashion.com blog. Though a prior engagement impeded her from staying in Athens for the entire event, she did participate on the opening night and followed shows on the first day. «I was very impressed by the location at the Zappeion Hall with the open air and the stars above,» said Pernet to this paper. «I suppose what struck me the most was the enthusiasm of the mayor, the designers and the guests.» Noting the «smocking details and the modern silhouettes,» of Deux Hommes, Pernet also commented on a «refreshing» shopping cart installation by LAK and enjoyed trying on items at Giorgos Eleftheriadis’s showroom. For Lydia Kamitsis, the Diners Athens Collections InStyle unfolded on a slightly more personal note. Given the fashion historian, author and curator’s Greek heritage, the event was a journey back to her roots and Kamitsis was closely following the Greek aspect. Did some kind of aesthetic arise? «In terms of the talent, whether among the young or the most established designers, there was a general feeling of an ancient Greece aesthetic, things like drapes, chiffon, mousseline and, at the same time, a casual yet noble casual look,» she said to Kathimerini English Edition. Financial Times and WGSN correspondent and buying consultant Robb Young, on the other hand, while not detecting «any cohesive Greek aesthetic» from the shows he attended, noted «an appreciation for the ‘body beautiful,’ body-conscious shapes, hand-worked embellishment and sex appeal.» Furthermore, Young emerged «optimistic about an organized, regular fashion platform in Greece,» deeming the Athens event «worth attending.» «I’ve discovered a couple of names new to me that are relatively promising and could have a future presence in the international arena,» said Young in an interview. «Considering that some seasons we pass the major fashion weeks in Paris, London, New York or elsewhere finding the same number or occasionally even fewer collections to add to our repertoire, it’s been a valuable journey all in all.» Both he and Kamitsis, however, noted the overall absence of major output. «I felt there was a lack of industrial production for real ready-to-wear, a lot of collections being in a small-scale production, if not sur mesure,» said Kamitsis. On the other hand, Young noted that Athens has a highly developed specialty retail market with forward-looking shops «importing some of the most directional and adventurous brands from around the world.» Overall for Kamitsis the event had an «observatory» role, offering an evaluation of where the field stands today. «Established fashion weeks are based on financial reasons, it’s a real activity sector, it’s above all business and then, as an accessory, a cultural phenomenon,» she stressed. The real challenge, she added, begins now, in creating the appropriate framework in order for the local fashion week to become a vehicle for economic and cultural growth. «You have to create ties with other local industries on the one hand, while creating the sense that there is creativity where we don’t expect to see it, in Greece, for instance. Another important challenge is to bring into all this the ministries of Finance, Development, Foreign Affairs, to help with exports, for instance,» she said. Besides the catwalk, Kamitsis feels that this kind of event should leave more space for action, including professional showrooms for conducting business as well as an opportunity for cultural promotion. «They are on the right track, on the condition that there is a real impetus to develop both the cultural and the economic aspects, not to maintain just a spectacle.» What kind of role could Greece play in the global arena of fashion weeks? «It is too early to say what place Greece could have in international competition,» said Kamitsis. «I can only imagine that its location and the ‘evening, vapors and drape aesthetics’ could allow to develop new markets toward the East and the Middle East, for instance. I also think that the strength of Greece could rely on its rich and somehow still present culture of details (the handwork in the couture but also in the decoration) as well as a natural sense of decontracte beauty.» «I do think that Greece could find its place as a fringe fashion week, but like anywhere else, this takes time and exposure,» said Pernet. «It is also super helpful that Sofia Kokosalaki has brought more attention to her native land and I look forward to Greece’s fashion future.»