Vogue Greece’s Fashion Features Director Elis Kiss talks to IN+SIGHTS GREECE about how Greek fashion brands are gaining increasing momentum globally.
With 20+ years of hands-on experience in the Greek and international fashion world, Elis has developed a profound understanding of Greek designers great and small and closely follows their every move. Aside from her work at Vogue Greece, she regularly features as a speaker at fashion-related events, panels, and TV shows. In this interview, she shares her personal and professional insights on Greek fashion and style and offers readers her top tips.
What drew you to the fashion world?
I was always interested in my own way. I remember going around with a notebook when I was around 12 in which I would draw my ‘weekend collection’ and I’d pretend that, say today, I’m wearing my pink dress with my rubies or my lilac dress with my diamonds. The dress would always be simple, and I would combine that in my head with a set of jewellery – necklace, earrings, ring, and bracelet!
But the defining moment came when I was living in Paris in the ‘90s and I was fortunate enough to become the assistant to Suzy Menkes, who was at the time the Fashion Editor and a leading fashion critic at the International Herald Tribune. Her stories always covered the fashion world in a more holistic way, offering a very in-depth view of what fashion is about and how it related to what’s going on in the world. Also, because she’s such a brilliant writer, you could feel that you were touching the clothes she described. Being her assistant for a number of years was a real eye-opener; I learned a lot.
What are the greatest changes you’ve noted in Greece’s fashion industry?
Greek fashion has had a lot of great moments, but it has never been an industry. It has been more about individual designers working on smaller collections. However, more and more Greek designers are selling abroad and on digital platforms, which makes it an exciting time.
Right now, what’s interesting is that during the Greek financial crisis a wave of Greek brands emerged on the global digital platform, taking an old concept but making it very appealing. Of course, there are many designers who are doing really well here and abroad without touching on their Greekness.
By now there’s an exceptional variety of top-quality designers, each with individual styles. This is a good time for Greek fashion, and a part of that is the idea of creating a new designer’s association, which means the more established, mainstream Greek designers will join forces and work together to develop projects, help each other in a more dynamic way.
What would be your top suggestions for fashion-conscious visitors to Greece?
I think if we’re talking high fashion they should stroll through Kolonaki and Syntagma and see the great boutiques by some of Greece’s best designers. Streets like Valaoritou and Voukourestiou and surrounding streets are lined with dazzling jewellery and fashion shops – the Aesthet store on Valaoritou carries a good selection of Greek brands, while the i-D concept store in Kolonaki showcases forward-looking Greek creative jewellery. Also for jewellery definitely visit the Lalaounis Jewellery Museum and the Eleni Marneri Gallerie. Also, go to Monastiraki and Plaka and buy a pair of leather sandals or original items that are crafted beautifully.
What are your personal ‘style tips’ as Vogue’s Fashion Features Director?
Common sense is a top tip because a lot of people go overboard for no particular reason! You see a lot of well-groomed people out there but it’s too much, too perfect, there’s no personality.
You have to be yourself and know yourself. Imagination is vital too, but the most important thing is confidence. What I don’t like today is what I call the ‘reality show aesthetic’ – fake body parts, same faces, same styles.
It’s important to go beyond fashion and trends. What you like doesn’t always suit you. Nowadays you’re no longer limited to what you see at the stores, you can find wonderful things online made by all kinds of designers.
Play around with what you have. There are things that you love and haven’t worn in ages but you can find new ways to wear them again by making simple changes and using different accessories.
Buy less and buy better quality. We need to start buying things we will keep for a long time, so we need to fall in love with what we buy. We should always think twice before we shop and have a little fling with it – not necessarily a mega-passion but it should have something you really enjoy. Sustainability is essential. We need to adapt our way of life because there’s no other way.