Designs inspired by Greek heritage are storming the world’s catwalks - while here, in Athens, a new confidence and local-first focus has ignited the city’s fashion scene. The current ‘Athens look’ captures the capital’s many faces: anarchic, relaxed, classical, ever-changing. With so many fierce and fantastic labels to shop, you’ll need to upgrade your baggage allowance.
Evi Grintela “The Shirtdress”
Signature Look: Tailored and timeless chic inspired by “his” wardrobe. Think Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s or Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction.
Perfect Outing: From the boardroom to the boat.
Designer DNA: Evi Grintela Karatza was a glossy magazine veteran for 20 years before she jumped into the ring with her own label. From her reign on the front row representing Greek style bibles, Evi observed the ephemeral nature of fashion and opted to walk a different path. Her sought-after shirtdresses, built upon the eternal wardrobe staple of the well-cut gentleman’s shirt, express all the nostalgia of a Slim Aarons photo shoot. “The shirtdress has no age or identity or season,” says Evi. Her take on it can be alternately airy, fluid or tailored; masculine, feminine or androgynous. To the touch, they are feather soft (that will be the Swiss and Italian cotton and silk).There’s an intellectual simplicity about Evi’s designs. Net-a-Porter have recently started selling them. So you know it’s a thing.
Who wears it: Women who don’t blindly follow trends and who appreciate classic elegance with a bass-note of androgyny.
Price Tag: €300-450
Signature Look: High-energy, wearable art. A contemporary twist on ancient Greek iconography.
Perfect Outing: Sunset cocktails by the sea or a barefoot beach wedding in Mykonos.
Designer DNA: This bold young brand by Greek interior architect-turned-fashion designer Konstantina Kampisopoulou has only been on the local scene since 2014 but it’s quickly became a firm favourite with the Athenian artocracy and fashion-pack. Especially popular are the groovy silk kaftans and kimonos, due to their “look at me” appeal and day-to-night versatility. Artian’s creations often sport sassy symbols derived from ancient Greek murals and Minoan or Mycenaean vessels. Konstantina notched up a decade as an interior designer before following in the steps of her grandmother - “a very qualified designer in her day”. “I was determined to create a brand that could intermingle fashion with art,” says Konstantina. “I see women themselves as a piece of art and my objective is to enhance their personality - rather than their sexuality.” Artian’s range is mostly crafted from silk or cotton, ethically sourced and made in Greece. “Everywhere I look in Greece I find creative inspiration,” says Konstantina, “the sea, the sky, the landscape, or our ancient monuments and contemporary structures.”
Who wears it: Statement dressers who aren’t afraid of colour and fans of Mary Katrantzou.
Price Tag: €200-600
Zeus + Dione
Signature Look: Traditional Greek craftsmanship meets modern minimalism.
Perfect Outing: Strolling the cobbled lanes of Anafiotika, below the Acropolis.
Designer DNA: This fashionista’s favourite landed on the scene as a romantic reaction to the Greek financial crisis. Lamenting their country’s negative press, lifelong friends Mareva Grabowski and Dimitra Kolotoura vowed to turn their passion for fashion into a global enterprise championing Greek heritage. The duo harvested their entrepreneurial nous (Mareva was an economist at Deutsche Bank; Dimitra headed up her own PR firm) to create a luxury brand that would give life back to Greek villages struggling to survive on their traditional crafts, such as the highly-skilled silk weavers of Soufli in northern Greece. Zeus + Dione is now one of Greece’s biggest breakthrough labels(80-90 percent of their sales are overseas). Fashion editors love the clean lines and sharp geometry inspired by ancient Greek architecture, enlivened by hand-made touches like loom-embroidered patterns and fastenings forged by Athenian silversmiths.
Who wears it: International fashion mavens and cheerleaders for Brand Greece.
Price Tag: €300-1,120
Signature Look: Feline swimsuits with a nostalgic nod and “less is more” architecture. Picture a young Elle Macpherson on the cover of French Elle or Grace Kelly’s flawless pool form in High Society.
Perfect Outing: Lounging by the ozone pool at your private villa in Paros.
Designer DNA: Sophie Deloudi studied fashion at the Istituto Marangoni in Milano but devoted herself to interior design for 20 years before turning her skills to swimwear. The gamble appears to be going swimmingly: her luxury swimwear now has a strong international following, with stockists across Greece, Cyprus, Spain, Switzerland, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and the UK. Characterised by clever cutaways, smooth form, and simple geometry, her swimsuits have a classic elegance that recalls bathing belles of the 1950s. Deloudi’s sophisticated resort wear is inspired by her favourite off-radar Greek island muses: Amorgos, Symi and Kimolos – but one-pieces are her enduring passion. “You can express your creativity more with one-pieces,” agrees Sophie, “they better reflect the personality of the designer.”
Who wears it: Classy summer sirens with a strong sense of their own style - and an allergy to Brazilian bikinis. For Athens stockists visit here.
Price Tag: €150-250
Signature Look: Architectural knitwear with a feminine edge. Fluid shapes that convey the freedom of the cultured Athenian lifestyle.
Perfect Outing: Art gallery opening in Kerameikos or a morning spent browsing designer boutiques in Kolonaki.
Designer DNA: This Athenian family enterprise dates back to 1971 when the Kourbela family opened up their workshop in Plaka to sell their hand-knitted garments. Early advocates of the sustainable fashion movement, the Kourbela ethos is about adorning the body in natural yarns and fabrics sourced, where possible, from Greece (including Greek-spun cotton and silk from Soufli). In 2003, Ioanna assumed the creative reins of the company. At the time, her style was deemed subversive, fusing elements from her studies in fashion, costume and stage design. She successfully oversaw the challenge of aligning the brand’s ethical philosophy and homespun Greek element with global expansion (the label is now sold in 28 countries). The versatility of Kourbela’s garments sets them apart: they can be wrapped, twisted or draped in various ways to express the wearer’s personal style and mood. It’s polymorphic chic that salutes the joy of simplicity.
Who wears it: Sophisticated urban foxes and fans of comfort-chic.
Ioanna Kourbela’s flagship Athens boutiques in Plaka are listed here.
Price Tag: €150-450
More Greek Designers to Watch out For
For city chic, Blameyourdaze in Monastiraki has tasteful and tailored staples with a dash of sass. If it’s street credibility you’re after, look to Sneak Aces in Halandri who’ll kit you up to pass for one of the skater boys or girls down at Latraac skate bowl. For timeless classics, head to Orsalia Parthenis in Kolonaki to pick up one of her refined wardrobe basics that will remind you of Greece for years to come. For those who like their clothes to pack a little more local attitude, Kolonaki is also home to Yiorgos Eleftheriades, whose fluid shapes don’t follow the rules (just like Athenians). Stylish nomads can hit up 2WO+1NE=2 in the historic centre for a range of image conscious threads sure to spice up any Instagram backdrop.