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GET ME TO THE GREEK: Designer Marios Schwab has thrown his support behind the new London exhibition, “Patterns of Magnificence: Tradition and Reinvention in Greek Women’s Costume,” which opened earlier this month at London’s Hellenic Center.
The exhibition of 40 Greek costumes ranges from simple linen embroidered chemises from the early 1900s to ornate bridal costumes, all of which have been sourced from the collections of Greece’s Peloponnesian Folklore Foundation and the country’s Benaki Museum. One early 20th-century bridal outfit, which hails from Greece’s Macedonia region, is a white chemise worn with a black coat dress, adorned with an ornate, armor-like belt of silver discs, worn at the hips and paired with a jeweled head-dress.
The exhibition’s curator, Ioanna Papantoniou, noted that examples of the country’s bridal costumes are particularly rare, as women were often buried in their wedding outfits. Schwab, whose mother is Greek, said during a guided tour last week that the country’s traditional costume had “intrigued my curiosity since childhood.” He said the costumes: "reveal so many different aspects of layering that make them very attractive for a designer, because you have incredible formations. It’s not a surprise that a lot of designers have been inspired by [Greek costume].”
Papantoniou pointed to how John Galliano took inspiration from the region’s costumes for his fall 2009 collection, when he showed elaborate headdresses inspired by Greek costume. “No Greek designer has been so brave as to take such full inspiration,” said Papantoniou. “Maybe you need to forget about [one's heritage] in order to be inspired,” she mused.
The exhibition runs until March 2, and on Feb. 21, Schwab is to host a panel discussion about how Greek costume influences his work.