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Famous for its ancient art and culture, Greece also has bred well-established fashion designers whose work is acclaimed both within and outside its borders. Here is a small profile on nine of the top Greek designers who have reached celebrity status.
Athens-bred Mary Katrantzou first studied architecture at the Rhode Island School of Design before she decided to transfer her degree to London, where she studied at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design and received BA and MA degrees in fashion. Very quickly after graduating, she immersed herself in the creative side of the industry and her collection was chosen to open CSM’s graduate show in 2008. She was later nominated for the Harrods and the L’Oreal Professional Award. Since then, she has shown her collections at London Fashion Week, and collaborated with various designers and brands like Topshop, and even designed a line of bags for Longchamp. One of the major signature successes in her career was the lampshade skirt collection which was shown at London Fashion Week for the Spring/Summer 2011 season.
That same year, she designed a capsule collection for Topshop and presented her collection for the first time in Los Angeles during the British Fashion Council’s London show Rooms. This young, yet powerful designer now counts over 100 stockists around the world.
Sophia Kokosalaki, born in Athens in 1974, started sketching dresses when she was a child. She later went on to study literature at the University of Athens; however, she never left her childhood obsession behind, going on to sell a small collection of hand-sewn dresses to a boutique in Athens following graduation.
In 1997, she enrolled at the Central Saint Martins College of Fashion, achieving such notoriety amongst her peers that her graduation collection was selected to be displayed at Pellicano in London. She then launched her own company in 1999 and collaborated with the luxe Italian leather house Ruffo Research.
As a proud Greek, she was chosen to create the ceremonial costumes for the 2004 Summer Olympic Games opening and closing ceremonies, a feat that required 2 years of research on traditional attire from all regions in Greece.
Her work has been recognized many times – Kokosalaki was awarded both the Elle Designer Prize and the Art Foundation Award for Fashion in 2002, and in 2004 the New Generation Designer award. She is now based in London and continues to focus on her namesake brand. Characterized by classic Grecian draping, her creations have a youthful, modern appeal.
Known as the “bathing suit king,” Panos Papadopoulos, born in Athens in 1958, is the founder, designer and entrepreneur behind Panos Emporio AB, a leading beachwear and clothing brand in Scandinavia. Not only famous for his work as a fashion designer, Papadoupoulos is also the manager of the Miss Sweden Pageant since 2005. Under his direction, the traditional swimsuit competition was eliminated. He also made a few changes in order to focus more on the contestants’ inner qualities, rather than on their physical attributes.
Greek-Australian Tina Kalivas is the woman behind the costumes of several famous movies such as Last Knights, Die Another Day (for no less than 8 evening gowns for a particular scene), Australia, and Goemon. That’s right, this designer is well-known both in fashion and in film, running her own eponymous brand alongside her film work. Her aesthetic solidified in London, where she studied at the London College of Fashion and lived for several years following graduation. In May 2002, Kalivas relocated to Australia to launch her own label with her first collection featuring conceptual, modern yet feminine clothes.
A prolific designer always on the lookout for her next project, Kalivas collaborated with Kookai Australia and served as the uniform designer for the Sydney Hilton Hotel. Her line always has something to tell and ethnicity is a strong recurring theme, which comes as no surprise for the Greek-born, England-educated and Australia-based fashion designer.
Born in Athens in 1972, Angelos Frentzos graduated from the Athens School of Fine Arts in 1992, whereafter he immediately began working as a print designer. Teaming up with fellow designer Sophia Kokosalaki, he created a collection of clothing inspired by the New Age music era. He then went on to study Fashion and Textile Design at Central Saint Martins, graduating in 1999.
In 2001, he presented his first collection at Milan Fashion Week, launching his eponymous brand later that year, and 12 months later, a menswear collection as well. Frentzos won first prize in textiles at the Lycra Dupont competition in 2003, and in 2004, restructured his company by signing a production and distribution license with an Italian enterprise.
Frentzos’ designs are bold and modern, creating a youthful couture statement influenced by tradition and roots whilst maintaining a fresh attitude.
Born in Greece, Ioannis Guia started his fashion career in Athens where he channeled his design degree (obtained at Veloudakis Fashion School) with his Master’s Degree in History at the University of Athens into a career as a freelance stylist for many prêt-à-porter companies until 1991. Relocating to Paris in 1993, he studied Historical Anthropology and a few years later, he finally created GUIA llc in 1999. He has been presenting his collections every season during the Paris and Milan Fashion Week since 2000.
His luxury line, exclusively made in France, demonstrate a strong attention to detail; Guia had the honor of having some of his creations exhibited for the occasion of the Jouer La Lumière at the Louvre Museum in 2002-2003, and again at the New Generation of Fashion Designers in Paris at the Galliera Museum in 2002.
UK-based Athena Procopiou started her career as a pianist, but later moved to London to study illustration and graphic design at, yet again, Central Saint Martins. And if you don’t believe in fairy tales you should start now, because Procopiou launched with just a capsule scarf collection, which was met with such immediate success that she quickly added lightweight kimonos and kaftans. Her line later expanded to include dresses and swimwear. Famous for her bohemian-chic designs, Procopiou works with quality silks, cashmere, and modal to create feminine designs. Each season, her new pieces are welcomed with excitement by loyal fans.
Like many other designers before her, Lydia Vousvouni, born in Athens, moved to London to study fashion at Central Saint Martins. After graduating, she stayed in London and worked as part of the design team at Marios Schwab and Aquascutum, as well as for Chloé and Loewe in Paris. But after meeting Mareva Grabowski and Mimika Kolotoura, the team behind the Greek fashion label Zeus + Dione, she relocated back to Athens and became the brand’s main designer. The choice was bold, but paid off – Vousvouni managed to prove that age is just a number, creating looks that embody the traditions of Greece without making them look like theatrical costumes.
Mostly known for her bridal creations, designer Celia Dragouni is inspired by old fabric and vintage embroideries she finds when traveling. After studying in London to score a BA from Chelsea College of Art and Design, she moved to Paris to study Fashion and Textile Design. She then attended Parsons School of Design and eventually started working at Sonya Rykiel in Paris.
In 2004 however, she resigned and created her own brand; Celia D. Her wedding gowns are light and crafted with airy materials like silk satin, tulle, lace and chiffon. The rest of her creations are infused with colors and patterns and are perfect for the bohemian-minded fashionista.