Saturday, July 23rd
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"My aim is to always hit a chord."
In November of 1972, the queen of draping Sophia Kokosalaki was born in Athens, Greece. At ten she realized the power of clothes and by sixteen started making her own. She attended the University of Athens and in 1995 graduated with a degree in Greek and English Literature. She then moved to London to attend Central Saint Martins to study fashion design. While in classes she started draping to make herself look busy amidst her more experienced classmates. This spontaneity has remained in her design technique, as she does not sketch, preferring to design right on the mannequin. In 1998 she received an MA in womenswear and made a splash at her graduation show, with her collection being snatched up by the London boutique, Pellicano.
In 1999 Sophia Kokosalaki started her own eponymous label showing her first collection at London Fashion week to rave reviews. Her fluid draped dresses; finessed with ruching, intricate pleating, texture, twists and embroidery are not only her trademarks but the reasons so many women fall in love her designs. With Grecian influences mixed with a modern feel it is no wonder celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Hudson, Tilda Swinton, Helen Mirren and Diane Kruger are some of her biggest fans. After her debut she worked on a knitwear line for English label Joseph. This was just the first in numerous collaborations she would take part in throughout her career. In 2000, she was a guest designer for the Ruffo Research spring collection and in 2002 was tapped as the designer for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. In two years she designed 7,000 costumes for the opening and closing ceremonies, along with the uniforms for the teams and officials.
After Sophia Kokosalaki’s enormously successful turn at the Olympics, 2005 brought about a collaboration with British retailer Topshop, where she created two capsule collections for their TS label. In 2006 she introduced her first of several collaborations with 70s eyewear pioneer Linda Farrow, debuted a capsule shoe collection for Nine West and was chosen as the new Creative Director for French fashion house, Vionnet, a favorite of Kokosalaki’s. For the year she spent working at Vionnet, she used her love of her Grecian heritage to recreate the 1930s goddess for a new century. In 2009 she celebrated her 10th anniversary in the industry with a capsule collection of ten improved archival looks and was picked by Renzo Rosso to be the head designer of the Diesel Black Gold line. While at Diesel, Kokosalaki added a dark yet romantic take on the label making Diesel Black Gold a standard runway show at NYC’s fashion week. In 2010 she collaborated with renowned Greek jeweler Ilias Lalaounis, creating an edgy update of classic jewelry. Two years later, in 2012 Kokosalaki launched two new lines, one with ASOS to design an ethical collection called Kore, complete with handmade clothing from organic silks and cottons. She also unveiled her first bridal line; a twelve piece collection of wedding, cocktail and bridesmaids dresses using flowing chiffon and silk tulle in a variety of neutral and pale tones.
Sophia Kokosalaki’s signature design techniques are draping, topographic texture, architectural structure and gothic or rock ‘n’ roll detailing. When she was younger she was inspired by Belgian designer Maison Martin Margiela. Kokosalaki worked with English artist Abigail Lane for her Central Saint Martins graduation show, creating the video installation, “Never, Never Mind”. In 2005 she designed costumes for the classic play Antigone at the Greek Amphitheatre. Kokosalaki’s Cretan Great-Grandmother was a famous religious/faith healer and is on the list for sainthood. Sophia Kokosalaki has received a few awards and recognition including: Elle’s young designer award (2002), the Arts Foundation fellowship in fashion design (2002), Best New Generation Designer at the British Fashion Awards (2003) and her label was named one of the Top Ten British Cool Brand Leaders (2004).