Athens Collections turn seven seasons old

Besides offering plenty of celebrity food to be digested by hungry local television, last week’s Greek fashion week saw some well-executed ideas for fall/winter 08/09. What makes a fashion week a success? No doubt strong collections with something to say about how we see ourselves in the world in which we live. Under the auspices of the City of Athens, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Development, the seventh installment of the Athens Collections InStyle organized by the Hellenic Fashion Designers Association (HFDA) took over Zappeion Hall from March 12 to March 16. On opening night, a brief appearance by lingerie pioneer Chantal Thomass – who picked up an honorary award – was followed by «Designers and Stars» – a combination of local actresses, models and celebrities with Greek fashion produce. Thankfully, things got better at the shows. Carrying pieces of what seemed like luxurious porcelain, Deux Hommes traveled to Bohemia, coming up with a medley of Central European fashion flavors on brocade, embroidery, pleats, thick wool, velvet and touches of metals. This was a beautiful show balancing between the past and the future, with lots of information to assimilate. More mature, while habitually self-confident, Yiorgos Eleftheriades presented his first line (his secondary line, Collage Social was shown off calendar) for women only. They were clad in rich prints, cape-like boleros, leather fringing and woolen jewelry while playing with textures and shapes. Maria Mastori and Filep Motwary continued their creative collaboration. The «Now I Know You Know» collection was fluid through velvet and pearls. Motwary came up with a loose, yet precise silhouette – embracing boleros, pleated long skirts and tuxedo jackets – while Mastori’s jewelry became part of the attire – think arm-length bracelets in rivers of white and black pearls. Scottish bagpipes and plenty of plaid made for a tender collection at veteran Loukia. Besides checks, it was black dominating the catwalk, with tuxedo ideas and fabric patchworks at the back of a coat or a jacket. Elegance is a state of mind – not just clothes. Vassilis Zoulias paid homage to a Greek icon of style – model-turned-muse-turned-photographer Mara Desypri. With attention to detail, such as big vintage buttons, Zoulias worked on thick crepe, checks and snakeskin. Besides footwear and bags, the designer recently established a ready-to-wear atelier. Using 50s erotica and conical bras, Orsalia Parthenis entered a new, sensually charged, creative chapter, with film-noir inspired silhouettes in green, olive and black. Inspired by Dada leader Max Ernst’s view of art, Christos Costarellos used silk satin, chiffon and organza to create three-dimensional volumes, where ruffles turned into flower patterns. Angelos Bratis worked around the clock: «24HRS» was the title of a show starring little black dresses for every hour of the day. Precise, well-made and beautiful. Two designers are known for focusing their efforts in knitwear. Glamorous pieces fit for Ama Zones came from Vasso Consola, who used warm wool sprinkled with oxidized bronze and iron in sophisticated dresses for the cocktail hour in a focused, wearable collection. At Smaragdi, the designer’s often girlish knitwear offered fluffy and more refined numbers, including big sleeves, cute jackets and tops in yellow, gray and black. The show would have benefited from some editing though. Accessories designer Dimitris Dassios came up with one-of-a-kind leather (made by the designer) and denim (vintage) jackets worn over Greek National Opera costumes. Accompanied by the voice of Nina Simone, the designer moved away from jewelry, using the clothes as a basis for sculptured patchworks and signature pleats in soft gold. Popular duo Mi-Ro took an African route with a charity twist. There were things to wear in a tribal chic meets the 60s mood, from caftans to coats and cocktail dresses in intriguing prints and deep-gold textures. The designer duo is contributing to ActionAid’s Priority Project in Malawi. The Athens Collections have become a welcoming home to Georgia’s Avtandil, who showed froisse patent leather in jackets, coats and separates. Shiny black was a dominant theme, with cute and overall well-fitted looks with a tomboyish feel. HFDA President Daphne Valente worked on cubism – think big, chunky cubes of jewelry made of fabric – to «Square the Circle.» Froisse and gauffre textures rendered signature Valente pleats, while soft black velvet was used in dresses and jackets. Katerina Alexandraki is one designer who has benefited from Greek fashion week. Beginning with confusing earlier presentations, she now presents sharp shows, with a style message. «Checkmate,» the new collection, displayed a youthful energy, including sequined suits and cute colors. Thessaloniki’s Simeoni was in a naughty mood – with a model smoking, two girls kissing on the catwalk. Among other things, there was gray jersey with sequined details, a semi-loose silhouette with nervures and appliqué black velvet. Gauffre checks and stripes developed into layers embracing the body at Andria. In a collection sprinkled with Eastern touches, the Thessaloniki-born designer took a step forward. Taking his cue from his idol Patti Smith, Konstantinos turned up in full rock gear, entering the «Dark New Generation» linking the past with the future. A predominately black collection of T-shirts (with messages) and skinny trousers revealed where the Thessaloniki designer’s soul is. The mood was equally dark at Kathy Heyndels, where the «God Save The Queen» collection was inspired by anarchy, graffiti, chains and torn leggings, but also tulle, lace and chiffon in mini dresses. Romania-born and Cyprus-based, Ramona Filip came up with fresh volumes by moving away from previous Jackie O-inspired work. Delicate pleats and folds and an amphora-inspired silhouette made «Luxury in Motion» a good show with a sense of direction. Frida Karadima also offered herself a new point of view: the «Pont Neuf» collection was about rock music, browns, orange and lime, suede mixed with jersey and silk, inspired by 1970s Paris. Besides her signature column monochrome silhouette, Chara Lebessi came up with sporty looks, pretty tweed and cashmere. From asymmetry to stand-up collars and tailored suits and coats, Lebessi continues her work on the feminine silhouette. Liana Camba’s fashion comeback explored the «Cinderella Syndrome» with easy to wear pieces. The designer seemed to be in a soft, comfortable mood, with jersey leggings and pieces including a long scarf with pockets. The collection was jazzed up with Maria Mastori’s jewelry. Cyprus-born, London-based Elena Antoniades made her Greek fashion week debut with a collection to please clients. «Sheer Elegance» had something for everyone, from fur-trimmed sleeveless leather jackets to brocade – yet the show lacked direction. Fellow Cypriot Afroditi Hera used nylon and elastic along with jersey, leather and velvet to work on a futuristic silhouette. Yiannos Xenis came up with a shimmering collection of mermaid gold and silver macrame and lacquered jersey – combined or on their own. Gold and animal prints on off-the-shoulder long dresses was a major story at the house of Veloudakis. Michalis Aslanis opted for an installation featuring models wearing heavy beaded and embroidered dresses standing next to fabric canvasses. Vassilios Kostetsos enjoys the limelight and vice versa. With guest star the current local media darling, model Julia Alexandratou, Kostetsos presented a Brigitte Bardot collection throwing together Scottish plaid, black leather, corseted mini dresses and sequins. Alexandratou’s pretty face, however, was not enough to revive an era defined by a certain innocence and great style. Following five days of air-kissing, catwalking and networking, the seventh edition of Greek fashion week ended on a perfectly fitting note. In collaboration with the French Institute in Athens, the screening of Rodolphe Marconi’s documentary «Lagerfeld: Confidential» threw light on an exceptional man of style. Karl Lagerfeld, the designer behind Chanel and Fendi among so many other works in progress, shared some thoughts. Whether dining in solitude, commuting via Lear jet, sharing moments with Nicole Kidman or shooting advertising campaigns, Lagerfeld comes across as an intriguing, yet friendly enough personality. His thoughts on the industry? «Fashion is transient, dangerous and unfair.» What’s hot, sweet and up-and-coming Hot for Fall: Greek designers came up with plenty of black and a renewed interest in knitwear, while hats made special guest appearances in a number of shows. What was hot on the catwalk? Cape-shaped boleros, soft velvets, ideas for tuxedos and cocktail dresses. Sweet Detail: Patissier Stelios Parliaros’s chocolate caviar at the Deux Hommes show. Meanwhile: Two photo exhibitions ran parallel to the shows: A video wall showed images from Mara Desypri’s book «Self-Portrait,» while Stefanos Paschos presented actress Karyofilia Karabeti clad in Greek fashion on a trireme. Young talent: At Zappeion, 20 young Greek designers competed for three tickets to «Create Europe: The Fashion Academy Award,» which will take place in Berlin in October. The European competition is organized in association with Eunic Berlin (an umbrella organization of cultural institutes in Europe and EU embassies based in Berlin). Besides traveling to Berlin, winners Dimitris Zafeiriou, Dimitris Petrou and Evi Retziou will also sign six-month contracts with local apparel companies Attrattivo, Toi & Moi as well as technology and design center ELKEDE.

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