CULTURE

A flower garden forDimitris Dassios

He’s the same man you may catch on the National Opera’s operetta stage and whose dramatic jewelry goes on display at power fashion boutique Maria Luisa in Paris. Apart from acting and singing professionally, Dimitris Dassios also makes good use of his hands in order to build communication. «I have always been involved in handwork,» asserted the jewelry designer who, in the past, often immersed himself in restoring antiques (and occasionally painting over them) and frames. These days, however, the world of Dassios is filled with flowers – blossoming, inviting, intriguing, exquisite flowers – showcased in a one-man jewelry exhibition at the Eleni Marneri Gallery in Athens. «Les Fleurs du Mal,» presents some 50 handmade pieces of creative eloquence, featuring flamboyant combinations of colors and textures. The show marks the first time the designer has explored one particular theme (and the first time jewelry gallery owner Eleni Marneri has presented the work of a single designer as opposed to a group show). «These may be cunning flowers, but they are also full of passion, man-eating, hallucinating, Baudelaire really covers the entire spectrum,» said Dassios of the Frenchman’s celebrated poetry collection from which the designer borrowed name and inspiration. At the gallery, Dassios invites visitors on a journey of opulence and glamorous «decadence» with necklaces, tiaras, brooches and cuff bracelets. The colors are stunning: a study of deep reds features on one neckpiece, while a romantic mix of pink, lilac and green adorns another. What defines this jewelry-making process is a vintage quality – though new, all of Dassios’s pieces exude the patina of time, coupled with a mood of modernity. They are not replicas of past styles, but novel looks into the past and the present. For some, the designer belongs to the avant-garde. To be sure, he is part of a fairly small club of designers whose pieces allow for the luxury of couture. Created by using moulage techniques on mannequins, the jewelry pieces develop in texture, form and silhouettes. Often based on metals, the skeleton is adorned with Swarovski crystals (which undergo an aging process by Dassios), semi-precious gems, cultivated pearls and fine fabrics (in the current exhibition a series of collars is based on intricate 19th century Turkish embroidery), among other materials. What began as yet another channel of expression some 15 years ago has developed into an exciting project on both an artistic and a business level for this passionate lover of the voluptuous world of Luchino Visconti, cinema, and the decorative and fine arts. From the private world of Dassios’s atelier and a few selected galleries in the beginning, over the last three years, the designer has been flexing his artistic muscle in more commercial opportunities, though production remains on the level of handcrafted limited editions. «It all has to do with a sense of maturity; I’m very sure of my work now and I feel I’d like to show it,» explained Dassios. «My years of psychoanalysis have no doubt helped me in bringing all this out.» An increase in personal confidence and the desire to get more exposure led the designer to become an active member of the Hellenic Fashion Designers Association (HFD), the Greek fashion body established in 2003. So far, Dassios has participated in both editions of the Athens Collections organized by HFD at Zappeion Hall and he is currently preparing for the third, scheduled to take place at the landmark Athenian venue later on this month. Meanwhile, at the Marneri exhibition, he is opening a novel chapter in his book of creativity with a series of luscious, colorful, pleated collars made of fabrics such as organza and taffeta. For the designer, this is an extension of the flower theme, a work in progress, from which he can explore the endless possibilities of pleats. «They develop an idea of sculpture, a sense of deconstruction and at the same time allow for compositions in a new kind of material,» commented the designer. The collar series also looks like a ticket to the world of garment design. Though not a trained fashion designer, Dassios dislikes creative restrictions and divulges that audiences may get a glimpse of something more at the upcoming March catwalk show. Multifaceted man Born in Athens, where he studied political science before moving into acting and classical singing, Dassios seems to marvel in his highly successful, two-fold artistic personality. When he’s not playing Nikos in the «The Apaches of Athens,» currently on show at the Acropol Theater until Easter, for instance, or preparing for the upcoming Zappeion show, he is looking into ways of developing his jewelry business. He’s very excited about pursuing a number of ideas beyond Greece, though this might involve taking some time off from the theater. But whether he’s on or off the stage, a sense of drama always runs through his signature jewelry pieces. Never a string of stones thrown together in a playful way, Dassios’s items are an exclusive series of bold pieces developed from scratch. Is it his life and experience in the theater that leads him there? «In the end, everything I do and create is a part of my personality,» he says. «I’m not necessarily influenced by theater per se; all of this is really who I am.» [email protected] Eleni Marneri Gallery, 3 Agathoupoleos, Fokionos Negri, tel 210.861.9488. The exhibition runs to March 24. For information also log on to www.dassios.com.