For the fourth time in its modern history, Greek fashion is convening at Zappeion Hall. A four-day style extravaganza, the event brings together local and some international talent. Under the auspices of the City of Athens, the Ministry of Development and ELKEDE (Technology and Design Center), the fashion week, which kicks off today and ends on Monday, will feature catwalk shows, a showroom for business, exhibitions and more. Expected to visit Zappeion this weekend are thousands of visitors: fashion industry professionals, style lovers as well as an array of local and international buyers and press. The fourth edition of the Diners Athens Collections InStyle appears to be at its most ambitious yet, taking on a few new dimensions. «This time our aim is to take advantage of the fashion week on a commercial level,» Daphne Valente, president of the Hellenic Fashion Designers Association (HFD), organizers of the event, told Kathimerini English Edition. «We have to change the perception of buyers and clients alike, to show them that something really exciting is going on in Greek fashion. One way to do this is to invite local buyers, for them not just to attend the shows, but to visit the showroom. «Another point of focus is to develop production lines for the designers and that is why we have opened our doors to local fashion manufacturers who create their own labels,» said Valente of the association’s decision to allow apparel companies to show at Zappeion. (The designer is collaborating with local apparel manufacturer La Stampa and Vergina shoe makers.) Foreign input The addition of foreign designers on the Greek fashion calendar is also another indication of the association’s desire to broaden its horizon and reach out to a larger audience. Coming to Athens to show their Spring/Summer 2007 collections are Cypriot designers Erotokritos, Mitsu Mitsu and Afroditi Hera as well as Georgian Avtandil. «We can’t compete with other fashion capitals such as Milan,» noted Valente. «But one way to attract attention is by developing a center for the Balkans and the Mediterranean region. In this way we could offer an incentive for visitors to see something new.» Besides the guest designers, the following HFD members will present collections at Zappeion: Andria, Angelos Bratis, Aslanis, Celia D, Chara Lembessi, Christos Costarellos, Christoforos Kotentos, Christos Maillis, Costas Faliakos, Daphne Valente, Deux Hommes, Dimitris Dassios, Erifilli, Katerinalexandraki, Kathy Heyndels, Konstantinos, Lena Katsanidou, Loukia, Makis Tselios, Maria Mastori, Mi-Ro, Parthenis, Simeoni, Smaragdi, Vassilios Kostetsos, Vassilis Zoulias, Veloudakis and Yiorgos Eleftheriades. On Monday, the fashion week’s final day, the catwalk will be taken over by local manufacturers La Stampa, Giannetos, Merit, Nota, Bitsianis, Arts Maxima by Makis Tselios, Minerva, Lucifer, Attrattivo and Crool. Also at Zappeion, a number of Greek shoe manufacturers collaborating with local designers will present their goods at the Hellenic Shoes Exclusive Collections. While the private sector continues its support of the Diners Athens Collections InStyle (Citibank’s Diners Club International card is, once again, the event’s principal sponsor), the state is sustaining its contribution with a Ministry of Development fund for the fashion week’s publicity and promotion. Much more, however, is required. «It would be nice to see aid coming from other ministries, such as Tourism and Culture,» said Valente. Fashion education Complementing the catwalk action are two exhibitions (both open to the public). Following a display of clothes by London-based Sophia Kokosalaki and a group show of photographers focusing their lenses on the black dress six months ago, fashion education continues at Zappeion with an exhibition of Greek fashion’s Old Masters. «Six International Greek Fashion Designers» features pieces by pioneers of Greek style who enjoyed fruitful careers in this country and abroad. Garments by diaspora Greeks such as Alexandria-born Jean Desses and Greek-American James Galanos (a Nancy Reagan favorite) as well as those by locals Yiannis Evangelidis, Dimis Kritsas, George Stavropoulos and Yiannis Tseklenis are going on display at Zappeion for the duration of the event. All items stem from the permanent collection of the Papantoniou Museum in Nafplion. Also on the fashion agenda is «Style Re-Invented,» a photo exhibition by InStyle-Smirnoff North.