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CULTURE & ARTS

Clothes Designer Katranzou Catwalks Temple of Poseidon Harper’s Bazaar

October 6, 2019

The famed 5th Century BC Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion, 48 miles south of Athens, soars over a coast that has seen a repelled Persian invasion and is one of the most tightly-controlled by Greece’s notoriously tough Central Archaeological Council – and now the setting for a fashion show by noted designer Mary Katranzou, a Greek who lives in London.

It was a tough sell to convince Greek authorities to allow it despite her fame in her own artistic realm. “Everyone advised against it because we were made aware that there had been a few applications for that monument that were vetoed by the archaeological committee and the government,” she told Harper’s Bazaar, the American women’s fashion magazine.

“Everyone knew it was difficult, but we felt our efforts would be worthwhile. I wanted to find a monument that was connected to all the elements. When I first visited many, many years ago, it was the only monument I’ve ever come across in Greece, and also while traveling round the world, where I feel so connected to the sky, the earth, and the sea. There is a raw energy in that positioning,” she said ahead of the Oct. 3 scheduled show.

There was another element to it. Katrantzou worked with the Greek charity Elpida – founded by Marianna Vardinoyannis, which helps and supports children suffering from cancer – to stage the event to raise funds for that cause.

The event is entirely dedicated to raising funds through ticket sales and charitable.

“To be able to use something that is a gift to your country and to use it like this validates and justifies an application,” she said. “I wanted to do a show dedicated to that location. You can use a location that belongs to your country for a great cause that helps people from your country.”

The Central Archaeological Council (KAS) had previously barred the BBC from filming a TV episode there before relenting, but allowing only a 24-hour permit and safeguards the site from overuse although it’s one of the country’s most popular attractions.

Katranzou is the first designer to be persuasive enough to get permission although given the majestic position of the temple overlooking the sea at one of the country’s most photogenic spots it’s easy to see why others thought it would be perfect too.

The temple, what remains of its marble columns, is on a craggy cliff 70 meters (230 feet) over a rough sea, a spot where you can imagine seeing the invading Persian fleet coming in, wrecking the temple to punish the defiant Greeks who routed them and rebuilt it during Pericles’ time.

Being Greek, and in that uniquely Greek setting, set Katranzou to making designs she said would be inspired by both. “It’s in my thinking,” she said.

“My collections aren’t ever about an era or muse; they’re about an idea that allows you to think about different ways of execution. Last season, it was about the elements – earth, wind, fire, and water – and the season before it was about the art of collecting. Taking that as a foundation, taking an idea then turning it on its head, is what makes my brand unique in its visual language.”

She said the image she wants to portray isn’t Greek nor her aesthetic. “But what is very Greek is my sense of balance and harmony, and the importance of a narrative. Story-telling and finding the meaning behind an inspiration is the most Greek part of my foundation,” she said.

“There must be purpose to a catwalk show – and more purpose than just showing clothes,” she said, perhaps thinking of that story-telling. “This show is so meaningful for me because I’m bringing many different elements together – it’s not just about designing clothes, it’s about communicating the values of my country,” she said.

“It’s giving my guests the opportunity to look at a part of my country that they might never have seen before, and doing it for it a charity is a way to give back when, as an independent brand, you can’t do it on a level of personal donations. Us being able to raise money through ticketing the show will meaningfully support the research.”

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