NEW YORK – Elizabeth Taylor, Barbra Streisand, Maria Callas, Diana Ross, Lady Bird Johnson. The world’s top designers begged them to don their clothes, but they chose to wear the creations of George Stavropoulos, many of which were inspired by classic Greek sculpture.
The Fashion Art and Design Committee of the Hellenic American Chamber of Commerce (HACC), apropos of New York Fashion Week, hosted on September 16 a tribute to Stavropoulos at Double Club in Manhattan, the scene of many of the designer’s shows and after-parties.
Event Chairman Markos Drakotos, who owns a skincare company called Task Essential and is part of the fashion industry, told TNH that when a member of HACC’s Board brought up Stavropoulos, they all agreed to honor him by presenting “Elegance Retrospective – Stavropoulos.”
“If you look at his dresses today, they are timeless amid so many designers today, like Donna Karen and Sophia Apostolaki, emulate him,” Drakotos told TNH.
In her official White House portrait, painted in 1968, Lady Bird Johnson is wearing a dress designed by Stavropoulos.
The guests were welcomed by Nancy Papaioannou, who is the president of HACC, as well as of Atlantic Bank.
The organizers assembled models and invited staff and members of the community to wear Stavropoulos designs that were owned by or loaned to them. Guests also observed videos of his fashion shows and mannequins draped with his dresses.
Stavropoulos’ son Peter and daughter-in-law Cally played a big role in organizing the event and the former presented some of the story of his father’s fascinating life, beginning with his birth in Tripolis.
In 1949, Stavropoulos opened a boutique in Athens. He passed on his first opportunity to move abroad when he turned down Christian Dior’s invitation to work with him in Paris, but after falling in love with an American woman he moved to New York and opened his business there in 1961.
Stavropoulos, who supplemented his design talent with a gift for marketing according to his son, an attorney with a deep appreciation for his father’s accomplishments, developed a following among New York society women who loved his “draped silk chiffon dresses and evening gowns that seemed to float in air.”
His son got a simple answer when he asked Stavropoulos why he designed for women and not men: “More money.”
The HACC event raised money for the benefit of the building fund of the St. Michael’s Home for the Aged, which was an institution close to his heart.