Over the years, Greek heritage has influenced a number of world-class designers – from Chanel to Gucci to Jean Paul Gaultier. Yet, for the most part, the inspiration is fleeting, with the following season channeling an entirely different concept.
However, for a number of both established and up-and-coming Greek designers, the country’s intangible wealth – its endless sunshine, unspoiled seascapes and history rich in myths and legends – forms an integral part of their aesthetic. Many of these fashion architects focus almost exclusively on resort style (aka cruise wear), which is generally characterized by loose silhouettes, light fabrics, swimsuits and hats.
Their objective: To create elegant-casual apparel for the women chasing summer year-round, and to formulate an aesthetic that subtly yet unmistakably references the essence of Greece.
Below are 6 such Greek designers to watch for 2019:
Ancient Kallos – For the modern spirit with classical Greek style
Noted as one of the first Greek brands to focus solely on resort wear, Ancient Kallos is a Thessaloniki-based company that was born from a collaboration between sisters Labrini and Stella Stavrou in 2014. Its collections draw from the idea of ancient Greek beauty (“kallos” being the time-honored word for “beauty” in Greek).
All of their kaftans, shorts, blouses and dresses – many of which include cotton embroideries and handmade tassels – are locally designed and manufactured. Some collections are named after picturesque Greek destinations (Spring/Summer 2018 bears the name Mani, a coastal region of the southeast Peloponnese), while others are inspired by, and carry the names of, mythological heroines like Klotho and Penelope.
For Spring/Summer 2018 the women curated a collection of earth tone knit skirts, black-and-gold embroidered kaftans and breezy cotton dresses bearing the print of a fig tree. Inspired by a warm-neutral cinnamon palette for Autumn/Winter 2019, the brand features a number of knit pieces (with just a hint of sparkle) and crepe blouse-and-pant sets with embroidery.
The goal for each collection? For the client “to feel like a Greek goddess when dressing up,” says Labrini.
Zeus+Δione – For nomads with a flair for the dramatic
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Ancient Kallos is stocked in selected stores locally and internationally as well as online at aesthet.com (click here for their Ancient Kallos page).
Typifying Hellenic culture through their apparel, shoes, accessories and homeware is the aim of Zeus+Δione founders Mareva Grabowski and Dimitra Kolotoura.
“We came up with the idea of creating a 100-percent Greek brand because the biggest advantage that we Greeks have is our heritage. No matter what changes in the economy, you can’t change history,” the founders told Greece Is in a 2017 interview. The lifestyle brand maintains an entirely elegant laid-back air across its collections through its use of fine silk sourced from northeastern Greece, embroidery from Epirus and the Peloponnese and lightweight knit material from Attica and the Greek isles.
Inspired by mosaics and frescoes from the ancient colony of Byzantium, the Zeus+Δione “Empress” Fall/Winter 2018 collection marries silk and velvet in a series of jewel-tone blue and mulberry red frocks. Also available: structured blazers over languid silk blouses in ivory, black and navy that are ideal for luxurious evenings on holiday.
MAAN – For the active island life
Zeus+Δione collections are available in a number of locations across Europe and Asia as well as online at zeusndione.com.
Perpetually enchanted by memories of carefree summers on the Greek isles, Athens-based designer Marilena Andreadi, who is a graduate of London’s renowned Central Saint Martins School, has been creating luxury beachwear since founding MAAN in 2014.
The designer aims to strike a balance between beauty and comfort each season, and to create collections to suit women of all ages and body types. “I don’t want it to be pretentious. I want it to be inclusive, so I’m very careful with the patterns [I choose],” says Andreadi, who added that her beachwear is ideal for an array of island activities – from long walks on the beach to swimming and diving.
For her Spring/Summer 2019 collection, the designer collaborated with English architect Joanna Burtenshaw to create hand-drawn patterns of the bougainvilleas that decorate the Greek islands, for a number of her high-waisted bikinis and retro-leaning maillots. To put a spin on the classic pattern, Andreadi and Burtenshaw produced the floral pattern in aqua blues, bold emeralds and whitewashed hues of green, yellow and orange.
Maritimum – For the low-key romantic
Andreadi stocks MAAN in boutiques across the islands as well as in Athens’s main department store, Attica. Additionally, domestic and international orders may be placed here.
Childhood memories of swimming in the waters of Crete inspired Eirini Karouzaki’s luxury swimwear line, Maritimum. However, it was her technical training on knitting and embroidery that aided Karouzaki in her detailed depictions of the Pancratium maritimum (sea daffodil), the rare flower from which the brand takes its name and which has featured in artworks since Minoan times.
Upon deciding to launch her own brand, it was Karouzaki’s profound love for swimming that made it seem natural for her to focus solely on resort wear. The designer’s first collection, which launched in 2018, featured one-piece suits and bikinis in hues of wine-red, purple and blue with intricate handmade embroideries of the unusual bloom. All pieces were designed in Athens and made with premium Italian lycra.
The one-pieces can also be worn as bodysuits, says Karouzaki, who added that her line is “for the beach, but it’s not necessarily something you’d wear to roll around in the sand. It’s for a day of lounging at the pool or to wear to the theater on a summer night.”
Themis Z – For uncomplicated globetrotters
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Our Handmade Suede Infinity Cape is Fall’s Chicest accessory for the chilly days to come 🍂 A post shared by Themis Zouganeli (@themiszc) on
Maritimum swimwear is available at selected stores in Athens, Mykonos and Cyprus as well as online here.
Unpretentious style is paramount to designer Themis Zouganeli, founder of the lifestyle brand Themis Z.
“The greatest form of luxury is when elegance meets simplicity,” says the designer, who has previously collaborated with Maison Dior to create a line of homeware, available via the company’s website. Drawing inspiration from ancient geometric patterns, the brand’s Autumn/Winter 2018-2019 collection of silk blouses and crepe midi skirts epitomize resort wear. Meanwhile, the brand’s handmade straw and leather “Kyma” baskets, which are available year-round, lend themselves just as much as a winter holiday in the Caribbean, as they do to a summer on Mykonos .
All ready-to-wear apparel and accessories are made exclusively in Greece with high-quality fabrics.
Faye Chatzi – For the minimalist who appreciates handmade tradition
Themis Z has a showroom in Athens and flagship stores in Gstaad and Mykonos. Collections are also stocked in outlets throughout Greece and Europe, and available online via her e-shop.
On the Cycladic island of Mykonos, resort wear designer Faye Chatzi spends hours on the loom to produce each of her handwoven garments. Her love for the ancient Greek art of weaving inspired the brand’s first line – the “Agnythes” line of shawls, as well as virtually all of the designer’s subsequent creations, which range from scarves to cover-ups to day-to-night dresses.
Unlike many other local designers who simply source fabric from Greek manufacturing companies, Chatzi makes each thread herself by taking the wool from her sheep and spinning it into fabric. Starting from scratch gives her “more creative freedom than any other way of production would,” she explains, while practicing the ancient Greek techniques also serves as a way to keep the tradition alive.
In 2018, the artisan created a one-of-a-kind “Kirki” dress for “Contemporary Minoans,” a cultural event organized by the nonprofit organization Branding Heritage, in Heraklion, Crete. The purpose of the event was to celebrate the country’s rich history and to showcase the work of budding entrepreneurs from all across the nation.
Faye Chatzi apparel is available at selected stores in Mykonos. For more information about her work, click here.