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Australia's Greek Style Council

Helen Tirekidis launches a commercial initiative to promote Greek designers

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Photos: Greek Style Council

07 November 2016

For the first time ever in Australia, a selection of multi-talented Greek fashion designers and artisans will be represented in a showroom, minimising the distance between the two countries, via the Greek Style Council.

Founder Helen Tirekides has created a platform to showcase emerging and established designers and artisans, selected for their dedication to fine craftsmanship and exceptional design.

With years of experience in senior roles in wholesale, marketing and PR (representing international luxury brands such as Chanel, Jean Paul Gaultier and Longchamp and Giorgio Armani), Helen has forged partnerships with premium ready-to-wear, jewellery and accessories designers. Her aim is to introduce, connect and facilitate their work into Australia and thereby seek and develop opportunities to promote Greek talent.

"The Greek Style Council will represent, promote and actively develop commercial opportunities in Australia, and thereby increase their international footprint," she says, while explaining the story behind the project to Neos Kosmos.

Helen Tirekidis

How did the idea of the Greek Style Council come about?
I was watching what was happening in Greece with the crisis, and all we ever heard about was what was going wrong in Greece, and I knew there was so much going right at the same time. Greece was always known for its design. However, I also noticed since the crisis there was an interesting thing happening: there was a downturn in the economy and yet there was a sudden explosion of more and more talent. People who were architects or interior designers are now also putting their hand to fashion and doing a phenomenal job of it.

Of course, it's not just fashion, it's food, product development, wines, interior pieces from Two is Company ... I wish I could cover all of them! I was always a little frustrated that not many Australian people knew about what was going right in Greece. I want Australians to see the positive side of Greece, instead of hearing just about the economy. I want people to know that despite the dire economic circumstances, Greece is prevailing and pushing through and creating more and more. It's almost like the crisis has fuelled a design revolution. The fact that they are producing amazing pieces to an international standard – given their limited economic support and resources – makes them true heroes to me. It's a fist up to their conditions. I love that about Greece's people.

How long has the project been in the making?
This time last year. I was in Paris for Longchamp, and decided to fly to Greece. I wanted to find and meet the fashion designers of Greece. So I made about five appointments every day, finishing at 10pm most nights and made it my mission to meet as many as I could. I wanted first to hear their story and see where they were at.

The Greek Style Council showroom.

What was the most challenging part of the process?
Funding. I went all over the world for assistance; Lascaris Foundation in Switzerland to Niarchos Foundation in New York. Of course I tried many Greek Australian initiatives – but unfortunately, there was no funding to assist me in this trade project for Greece. That was hard, and a surprise to me. Knowing all of the designers now, it was a little heart-breaking to see this lack of support financially, to be honest. I wanted to show them Australia is behind them and supporting them. I wanted to do it 'right' from the start, as they really deserve this.

How many times did you have to travel to Greece?
Twice, with probably multiple late-night Skype calls with all the designers.

What is the aim of the Greek Style Council? What do you aspire for it to be?
I want Australians – whether it be retailers, press or customers – to be made aware of what Greece is doing well.

Sandals by Valia Gabriel on display in the showroom.

How has the idea been received by the designers and by Australian audiences respectively?
The press have been overwhelming in their response. Vogue, Elle, Marie Claire ... even famous [Australian] blogger Margaret Zhang will be wearing Liana Camba! Retailers such as The Iconic, Becker & Minty, Mr & Mrs Smith, Husk and Hunt are ordering, and others have shown interest. I am meeting with David Jones this week. It's a long process.

How many designers are on board so far?
Twenty-two designers in the showroom, along with some other brands such as Lito, Zeus&Dione. We plan to be working on a different level for Australia.

* The pop-up wholesale showroom is open to traders only: retail buyers, press and influencers, and showcases Spring/Summer 2017 collections. For more information, visit greekstylecouncil.com

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