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Greek designers turn classic accessories contemporary October 31, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Fashion & Style, Shopping.
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Greece is a country whose adornment tradition stretches to antiquity. Now, four of the country’s accessory designers are reflecting that rich history, and attracting clients here and abroad, through their contemporary takes on classic forms.

Whether spectacularly chunky or elegantly fine, Maria Mastori’s pieces are divided among three collections: an exclusive, often made-to-order line of precious or semiprecious stones, silver and white gold; a diffusion line featuring raw materials like driftwood; and a collection tailored to be eye-catching on the catwalk, where Mastori works with the fashion designer Filep Motwary.

“Same Time Tomorrow”, the spring/summer 2008 collection to be presented during Greek fashion week, explores environmental concerns and incorporates natural elements like satin, cotton and pearls. “With a piece of jewelry you can change your entire look,” said Mastori, who lately enjoys working with pink quartz and marble.

At Mastori, items begin at €50, or $70, and exclusive pieces start at €400. She sells in 18 outlets around the country and in Cyprus; last week she was presenting the collection at the Christine Mazza showroom in Paris.

Drama is the element that defines Dimitris Dassios’ couture-inspired jewelry and accessories. For the singer and actor who has turned a hobby into a very promising business in the last few years, creativity is expressed through vintage qualities and the patina of time.

“While the global apparel industry is at the same time chaotic and very specific, with accessories you can be unique, you can create an identity,” Dassios said. “When Greek designers manage to acquire an identity, it means that they have worked very hard – in a small and rather indifferent market which adores all things foreign. It also means that when you go abroad you are very strong.”

The new dynamic is evident: at a Milanese showroom last month, Dassios’ one-of-a-kind jean-jackets with appliqué vintage 19th-century embroideries were snatched up by the Hong Kong boutique Joyce, among other orders. Previously, jewelry pieces had made their way to Maria Luisa in Paris and to Churchill in Kansas City. Last week, Dassios presented his work at the Vendôme Luxury Trade Show in Paris.

While flirting with the baroque and the East in past seasons, Dassios’ collection for spring/summer 2008 is closer to home: Inspired by Greece, it features signature gilded, pleated metals, as well as plenty of turquoise and mother of pearl.

Now four years old, the Vassilis Zoulias Old Athens brand is known for being classic with a twist. Vassilis Zoulias’ shoes and bags are defined by their old-school elegance: Ribbons, satin, grosgrain, taffeta moiré, feathers, together with vichy cotton in summer and plaids in winter are a few favorites here.

Following a distinguished career in local fashion magazines as stylist and fashion director, Zoulias’ own design ambitions have now turned into a blossoming label, thanks to substantial financial backing from a private investor. With two free-standing boutiques, where refined surroundings go hand in hand with elaborate packaging, Zoulias is essentially recreating his obsession with the past, especially the 1950s and the 1960s. From ballerina flats to high heels with peep toes, footwear starts at €170 and special-order handbags may reach €800.

“The great difficulty in Greece lies with production, finding the right people to make things,” said Zoulias. “There are still some very good ‘hands,’ however, and as long as the product is good, clients will pay for it.” Proud of his made-in-Greece output, Zoulias says increasing interest from abroad may lead him to adopt new production patterns, although, for now, bags made in Athens are available at Jamilco in Moscow. “Call me a romantic,” said Zoulias, “but there is a factory still active, thanks to us.”

Doukas Chatzidoukas’s own take on romance has a particularly edgy feel. Established in 2003, Doukas, the brand, includes shoes, bags, costume jewelry and, as of very recently, a capsule clothes collection, all carrying the signature Chatzidoukas touch: couture techniques given a street-savvy spin.

There is plenty of leather, assortments of Swarovski crystal, from clear to opaque, as well as silk tulle, viscose and textile furniture. With all of the production done locally, the brand’s entry-level bracelets are €140 while bags may be as much as €1,200.

The designer’s resumé includes joining forces with Estée Lauder for the cosmetic giant’s Pink Ribbon Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign in Greece and Cyprus; creating a sandal sponsored by Swarovski for the 2004 Athens Olympics, currently at the Austrian crystal specialist’s Museum; and a collaboration with 10 Corso Como in Milan. Now, he is focusing his efforts on building his local wholesale network.

While there are no Doukas stores yet, Chatzidoukas’s €400 sandals, among others, are selling in 20 high-end shops around Greece. Abroad, Doukas pieces are available in Dubai and Doha. “Selling abroad is one thing, but establishing a viable, international career is quite another,” said Chatzidoukas. “While it might be easier for a French brand, given that it comes from a different fashion culture, I don’t believe that we Greeks are very much behind. Borders are now open and communication has been established. It’s a matter of talent, hard work and being at the right place.”

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