How is one of the Greek dressmakers behind Western Australia’s best bridal shop connected to the ‘Patris’, the iconic ship that brought thousands of Greek migrants to Australia? If life is a series of unfolding scenarios, as some say, this story is definitely one like them.
“I was in Bali on holiday sipping on a coconut when I was notified by the Australia Bridal Industry Academy (ABIA) that Zolotas bridal was voted as the Hi best couture gown designer in Western Australia. I knew when I started this business that Australian brides would love the unique handmade Greek designs,” said Sophie Linardopoulos, owner of Zolotas Australia Bridal Couture, in Perth.
Born to an Australian mum and a Greek dad, Sophie spent the greatest part of her childhood on the Greek island of Paros.
“My mum, did a Contiki tour of the Greek islands back in the 80s. She met a local on Paros island -my dad- and the rest is history. After 17 years of living in Paros we decided to come to Australia for a new life and to finish off school. Greece will always be home but I am very grateful for all the opportunities Australia has given me,” she said.
After attending her cousin’s wedding in Paros in 2016, Sophie was left in awe with the handmade wedding dress. She posted photos on her social media profile and got so many positive comments from her friends back in Australia, so she decided to track down the designer and bring the brand down under.
“Meeting with designer VG Zolotas and experiencing firsthand his vision and passion for wedding gowns handmade in Greece, made me want to bring the collection to the Australian brides and share with them my passion for wedding traditions and my heritage,” Sophie said, explaining that Australian brides-to-be try on samples of the gowns, they get measured and the measurements are sent to Athens where the dresses are made in-house for nearly 50 years now.
The connection to the iconic Greek ship ‘Patris’
Behind the scenes and the creation of these bridal gowns are the atelier’s dressmakers. Some of them, like Mrs Argyro Lemoniadi, originally from Thymiana, a small village on the island of Chios where the Zolotas familiy also originates, have been working with the brand for more than three decades.
“I started learning the art as an apprentice while I was still at school. I used to watch the older seamstresses in the village sewing and I learnt from them,” Mrs Argyro said.
Although she is the one who adds final stitches on the creative process of the handmade bridal dresses that will travel the world to get to the brides, she doesn’t want to admit how important her role is.
“It’s team work. We are a family here in the workshop,” she said humbly, taking her phone around the workshop and introducing me to the other ladies.
Firm in her answers but willing to reply my questions, Mrs Argyro reminds me of the older Greek people who keep supporting the new generation of Greeks to preserve and showcase their unique tradition no matter the hardship they’ve been through. But I knew there was something else she had to tell me, just to confirm the unfolding scenario of this story.
“You know, my dad, Nikolaos Karras, was a crew member at The Patris, the ship that carried so many migrants to Australia. I was a little girl and I remember the journey used to last 52 days. Twenty-six from the Piraeus port to Australia and back again. He did this for many years,” Mrs Argyro said.
In the picture appears the designer -VG Zolotas – who wraps his arms around Mrs Argyro. I ask him about his future plans.
“We are a proudly Greek, small family business and the wedding gowns are all handmade in-house, in Greece. Although we send our wedding gowns around the world, we are not interested in mass production. Quality is what it’s more important to us,” VG said.
“Like a thread that unreels from within your soul, giving every dress its own unique story. A story that remains indelible as time goes by,” reads the brand’s website. Indeed.