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An exhibition by six universal Greek fashion designers October 11, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Cyprus, Arts Exhibitions Cyprus, Arts Museums, Fashion & Style.
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Greek fashion from days gone by > Get a different take on vintage at an exhibition of the designs of Greek designers who had a huge impact on the international fashion industry

Fashion is made to become unfashionable, Coco Channel once said. Coming from a world famous designer who ruled over Parisian haute couture for almost six decades, he must have known what he was talking about.

What’s ‘hot’ this season is ‘so not’ next season. What’s a ‘must have’ this winter will be considered terribly outdated next year. The fashion industry certainly knows how to grab our attention, making us desire things we would never have previously dreamt of wearing.

But there are times when celebrities tire of parading all the modern designs around. So what they do? Easy peasy. They re-invent a look from days gone by and walk down the red carpet in some vintage dress that makes them look a million dollars. And all of a sudden, it becomes the coolest and hippest thing to do as women around the world rush to recreate that porcelain skinned, red lipsticked, ‘belle of the ball’ look.

A few years back Renee Zellweger wore a lemon yellow strapless 1950s Jean Desses gown to the Academy Awards and the cameras would not stop snapping away at her. Jennifer Lopez also wore a moss green Desses gown, made with 50 yards of chiffon, to the 2006 Academy Awards and the crowds stood back in awe. The point is, both these celebrities were wearing dresses by one of the fabulous Greek designers that took the fashion world by storm in 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. But many of us are not even aware of their contribution to the fashion industry.

Thanks to an exhibition at the Leventis Museum in Nicosia, you now have the chance to view the works of six pioneering Greek fashion designers within the framework of a wider exhibition by the Peloponnesian Folklore Foundation. The fashion exhibition is taking place in the temporary exhibition hall, presenting important creations by Jean Desses, Yiannis Evangelides, James Galanos, Dimis Kritsas, George Stavropoulos and Yiannis Tseklenis.

After the Greek industrial revolution at the end of the 19th century, Greek men and women adopted ‘European’ fashions without it ever really being possible to establish a Greek haute couture. As Greek designers travelled abroad to make names for themselves in the 20th century, European and American women were beginning to wear intricate designs influenced by Greek fashion.

Desses in particular specialised in creating draped evening gowns in chiffon and mousseline based on early Greek and Egyptian robes. Moving to Paris in the 1920s, he started up his own couture house in the late 1930s, as well as his own perfume line.

Among his clientele were the Queen and Royal Princess of Greece, the Duchess of Windsor and society hostess, Elsa Maxwell. In 1962, he designed the wedding gown worn by Princess Sophia of Greece in her marriage to the future King Juan Carlos of Spain. In 1963 he retired to Greece because of poor health and passed away in Athens in 1970. But his legacy lived on. Recently, his fashion designs have seen a strong revival with the increased interest in vintage dresses.

Take a wander around the exhibition at the Leventis and you’ll feel like you’ve truly entered a world of the rich and famous of the past. You certainly won’t be able to miss the dresses of James Galanos, the Greek designer who had everyone talking in New York in the 1940s, swiftly gaining a reputation among high society. This is the man who designed gowns for Nancy Reagan, wife of Ronald Reagan, and whose work is characterised by fine craftsmanship, particularly in the use of hand beading, full, loose dresses and chiffon coats over simple sheaths, as well as the extensive use of silk fabrics.

Having studied fashion in New York in the 1940s, Galanos went on to work for top fashion designers in Paris and New York and soon opened up his very own Galanos Originals shop in Los Angeles. In 1985, Galanos received the Council of Fashion Designers of America Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2000, the City of New York began honouring fashion designers by placing bronze plaques along the pavement of 7th Avenue. Dubbed the ‘Fashion Walk of Fame’, Galanos was one of the first designers to be honoured. Though he officially retired in 1998, Galanos continues to make his presence known in the fashion world.

As you browse through the hall, also be sure to take a look at the designs of Yiannis Tseklenis that have been sold by leading stores in more than 20 countries worldwide, winning himself a niche in the wardrobe of thousands of well dressed women and men since 1965. You’ll even get to see the dresses of Dimis Kritsas, who started his spectacular career designing for Jaqceus Fath and the super trendy Balenciaga. If you love designs from days gone by, don’t miss this exhibition that gives you a glimpse into the biggest names that put Greece on the international fashion map.

Six Universal Greek Fashion Designers > The exhibition displays the work of the pioneer Greek designers, Jean Desses, Yiannis Evangelides, James Galanos, Dimis Kritsas, George Stavropoulos and Yiannis Tseklenis. Until October 28. Temporary Exhibitions Hall, The Leventis Municipal Museum, 17 Hippocrates Street., Laiki Yitonia, Nicosia, tel 22 661475 and 2 2671997.

Related Links > http://www.nicosia.org.cy and http://www.nicosia.org.cy/english/ipiresies_politistika_leventio.shtm

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