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Designer of the Week: Cleo Gkatzeli from Athens, Greece

Interview with Cleo Gkatzeli from Athens, Greece

cleo

WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT BEING A FASHION DESIGNER?

The best thing about fashion designing is that it’s a very creative profession and this never ceases to impress me!
I love my work so much that… I don’t feel like it’s working at all!

 

WHAT HAS BEEN YOU BIGGEST CHALLENGE?

The biggest challenge is to decide the path in which you want to walk through, and what is your aim, of course.
The most important thing of all is to know what direction you want to follow as a fashion designer. The dream! As soon as you have it clear in front of you, then it is possible to accomplish anything!

 

WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR INSPIRATION?

Being among fabrics and colors, is my happy place. Seeing or touching new fabrics and various other materials like ribbons, buttons and other trims, is enough to trigger many different design ideas in my mind which I can’t wait to bring to life! Foreign cultures and travel also brings me so much inspiration, so I always wish to travel in several countries.

 

WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO BECOME A DESIGNER?

Becoming a fashion designer was not a wish, it was a natural turn in my life.
My parents were both in the clothing industry, they owned two clothing shops. They were not designers themselves however. From my early age I had an inclination for painting and drawing, so my main studies were in Fine Arts. After I graduated my parents just gave me the idea to also study fashion design, and they did so good!! I am so grateful to them for this boost!

Meet Tina Nikiforaki, Boutique Curator for Athens, Greece

Visit Athens City Page
Explore Athens Boutique

“Since I started digging into Greece’s new talents to showcase for RP, I discovered an endless wealth of ideas and creativity. I have strong faith in Greek designers and admiration for them, because under these turbulent times in Greece, with shortages of fabrics, materials, budgets, they manage to produce thoughtful collections and remain creative! “

tina-square

I used to get a lot of hand-me-down clothes from my older brother. Did I like them? Nope, but I did feel more active in them… Was I a tomboy? Nope, mum dressed me up in heaps of skirts and pinks and ribbons, but all I remember is having to wear my brother’s tracksuit pants and sweaters. I was stigmatized!
And now? I wear some unisex type of clothes, but when I go out I want to feel sexy and dynamic. I usually like tightening the waist, covering the chest and always wearing some kind of heels.
I LOVE
FASHION; the1920s, the 50s and lots of international fashion houses – Bottega Venneta, Givenchy, McQueen, Galliano, V. Bruno, Nicolas Ghesquiere, K.Lagerfeld, Mary Katrantzou, Konstantinos Melis, Erotokritos, Ioanna Kourbela to name a few – and the ones on RP of course.

LEARNING; though not an academic at heart, I’ve completed a lot of useful and even more useless studies. Favorite one was Fashion design school in Athens and Global Fashion Management at FIT in NYC where I learned how to communicate with different cultures and understand how Global Fashion Companies operate. It is fascinating.

SOURCING; since I started digging into Greece’s new talents to showcase for RP, I discovered an endless wealth of ideas and creativity. I have strong faith in Greek designers and admiration for them, because under these turbulent times in Greece, with shortages of fabrics, materials, budgets, they manage to produce thoughtful collections and remain creative! I want to see the cool RP audience be OF the first to access these creations and tell their friends about them. They’re cool, unique and very Athenian!

PEOPLE WHO SMILE, CAN TAKE A JOKE, LAUGH AND NEVER GIVE UP ON LIFE.

I DREAM of:
HELPING others reach their full potential
PROMOTING Greek fashion to the world
REVIVING Greek artisans and designers and help them create a viable business
I DISLIKE –
comfort zones, vegemite, tofu, snobbish attitudes, ugly shoes
FAVORITE QUOTE
“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” – Mark Twain

Spyridon Tsagarakis – A True Designer Proving Fashion is NOT Dead

Interview with Designer Spyridon Tsagarakis 
by Tina Nikiforaki – Curator and Fashion Reporter. Athens, Greece.

“It is much more preferable to strike their audience with only one piece of clothing that would be unique, than to push a button in a computer at some factory and produce 10,000 yellow polyester t- shirts!!! Think!!!”

George Katsanakis photography1George Katsanakis Photography

TELL US ABOUT YOUR LATEST COLLECTION?

In my latest collection I have used a mix of Greek ancient and Minoan elements. Geometric forms with folds, raw silk along with cashmere as well as compressed silk along with wool, and of course the Minoan red color in all of it’s grace.

 

HOW HAS THE FINANCIAL CRISIS IN GREECE EFFECTED YOU?

The same way it has affected everybody. Like I have already stated in previous interviews, this crisis is constructed by the global government and it unfortunately effects only everyday people. The global markets and the people behind them are the ones that define the world’s economy. They are the ones that truly elect the governments. Those who believe that Papandreou has been elected by the Greeks are truly very unaware of the situation that surrounds them. The people who are responsible for this situation spread lies using the media and their fake leaders in order to possess what will bring fortune to them such as our islands, metals, petroleum. Greece is one of the richest countries in this planet. This is why the situation in Greece is definitely not random. But the Greek people have been brainwashed and fully controlled. The worst crime of my fellow countrymen has to do with the chaos that dominates the political scene. I believe that it’s representatives are all corrupted.

 

CONSIDERING THE CRISIS IN GREECE, DOES FASHION REMAIN IMPORTANT TO PEOPLE? WHAT IS THE ROLE OF DESIGNERS IN SUCH AN ENVIRONMENT?

I honestly believe that the last thing that preoccupies a family who fights for it’s economic survival is fashion. And it is absolutely reasonable. On the other hand there are specific brands that address themselves to these people, because they sew their clothes in ships  in order to get away with not paying taxes or they sew them in countries where the days pay is very low. They cheapen everything and as a result they manage to economically survive. Personally, I refuse to use polyester fabrics in order to gain lower prices. It is impossible for me to work with a fabric made of petroleum. This is not something that interests me. It is a fact though, that my clothes consciously don’t address themselves to everybody.
photographer FAIS
Photographer FAIS

WHERE DOES YOUR INSPIRATION COME FROM?

In this collection my inspiration comes from the ancient Greek and the Minoan civilization and the result is in harmony with my original conception as I have managed to accurately recreate what I originally had in mind.

 

WHAT FASHION MAGAZINES/BLOGS DO YOU FIND MOST INSPIRING NOW?

FAULT MAGAZINE is considered to be one of the most important magazines with millions of readers worldwide according to the measurement company. I also like a new blog called YOUSTRIKEMYFANCY by Despina Isopoulou and of course the FILEPMOTWARY.COM.  I usually follow up with stuff like that when I do have the time to do it, but I generally try to also maintain a certain distance in order to not be influenced in any way.

 

WHERE CAN WE FIND YOUR CLOTHES AND WHO IS YOUR AUDIENCE?

You can find my clothes in the permanent collections of most of the museums around the world. In the MOMA Museum Shop in New York you can find the vintage collection “The Richness of The Folds” by Spyridon Tsagarakis and I am glad because the pieces are always sold out there as well as in Colette in Paris. The clients that don’t get to buy a certain piece can enter a waiting list. If someone wants to possess an haute couture piece he would have to order it also through my email – INFO@SPYRIDONTSAGARAKIS.COM I hope that our clients will soon be able to find us online, but still some time is needed in order to complete that project. My audience consists of people that might want to buy a piece of clothing and use it also as a piece of art, as a sculpture, but it also consists of women that possess dynamism and are cultivated.

 

DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE DECADE OF FASHION?

The 1930’s because it is the decade of contrasts and of ultimate glamour. The 1950s, as it is the decade of the absolute elegance and also the 60s because it was full of contrast and revolution. I am just feeling sorry for the current decade because what is left are women that love to wear flip flops and high heels harass them on the pavements. This has got to stop. They look so kitsch.

George Katsanakis photography2 George Katsanakis Photography

HOW DID YOU GET INTO FASHION?

In the beginning I used to write and sketch almost everywhere I could find. I then studied the object of my passion, I did two drawing expositions, got a bachelor in fashion. I then worked at Vogue with Michael Pandos and at the same time I worked with Nicola Georgiou and Anna Zichenco, top fashion directors. Within one night I abandoned all that to get my masters at CENTRAL SAINT MARTIN’S where I had been accepted. I was working like crazy and I was also focusing on my first collection: The Richness of the Folds. Then I traveled in Basilica in order to present that first collection in Saint Marcus museum. I created a video of the whole collection where my clothes actually played a part, that of the ancient Greek marbles. The audience was confused because they couldn’t distinguish whether they saw a piece of clothing or an actual marble. So my work reached CNN where they played my video and referred to me as the new Feidias. And suddenly my clothes became the object of many photo shoots. The reviews where endless, the projects arrived one after another. I always maintain this artistic signature in my clothes in order to make them recognizable to my audience and gain my own identity as a designer.

 

IF YOU WEREN’T DOING FASHION WHAT ELSE WOULD YOU DO?

Look, I am not really sure whether I am doing fashion or not. What is certain is that I enjoy constructing what I mentally conceive without settling and compromising. I generally like to create unique things that hold my own signature. I could easily even own a French pastry shop with tents with blue and white stripes and sell tarts with crème patisserie and fresh strawberries. I could also be on the top of a mountain and explore my soul spiritually.

 

WHERE WOULD YOU LIKE TO SELL WORLDWIDE? IS THERE AN AUDIENCE THAT YOU FIND CHALLENGING TO ADDRESS TO?

I would like to permanently sell my vintage collection, “The Richness Of The Folds” by Spyridon Tsagarakis, inside the museum shop of the Acropolis. That would be nice, taking into consideration the audience to whom I address my clothes. I am not interested in being everywhere.

photographer Bill Georgousis
Photographer Bill Georgousis

WHAT IS THE BIGGEST OBSTACLE YOU HAVE OVERCOME?

The biggest obstacle that I haven’t overcome (I’ll change the question) is to not know exactly what is happening during this life and the life to come, to know the truth and be hurt by this knowledge, to not be able to turn back time, to know that there is an eternal light that I want to be part of, but to not be able because at the same time it is a very difficult thing to do. In this life there is the visible and the invisible war. The way that evil acts is the worst war that exists and I might lose even though I don’t want this to happen. Every battle is important to me, but I am always in need of god intervention, because I can’t make it all by myself.

 

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOURSELF AS A DESIGNER NOW VS WHEN YOU FIRST GOT STARTED?

It is very difficult to sit and draw for my haute couture collection. This whole procedure is made by hand in order to create exactly what I have in mind. I have worked with that same technique since 2005 until today and I rarely use designs. It is just that I have now immense demands. I am sorry to say but it is true. I am trying to maintain the originality of my work.

 

WHAT DO YOU THINK IS UNIQUE ABOUT GREEK STYLE VS THE REST OF THE WORLD?

The fact that the Greek civilization has been an example of cultural enlightenment throughout the world can only show us that the style that comes with it is unique, as long as someone knows how to really attribute it’s true concept.

 

WHAT PIECE HAVE YOU DESIGNED THAT YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF?

My award winning Collection ,Spyridon Tsagarakis Vintage. The pieces of this collection that are similar to the Greek marbles and can be found in most of the museums around the world. I am also very proud of my Gold collection in which I used elements from the Greek Aghia Sofia in Constantinople, a collection with various and unique messages.

 

ANY ADVICE TO STARTING OUT DESIGNERS?

To always try to be unique, to use quality fabrics, to be very careful with the clothes stitching and to treat their clothes as a piece of art. It is much more preferable to strike their audience with only one piece of clothing that would be unique, than to push a button in a computer at some factory and produce 10,000 yellow polyester t- shirts!!! Think!!!

George Katsanakis photography3 George Katsanakis Photography