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Arts

Margianna Dragoumanou on MAGNADI & Her 1821 Designs Inspired by History

October 29, 2021

NAFPLIO, Greece – MAGNADI is a Greek brand which brings Greek heritage to life in stylish content and a collection of high quality silk accessories, hand-drawn and then digitally printed on some of the finest silk made in Greece.

The word `magnadi’ means light-woven scarf in ancient Greek and it is related to the myth of sea goddess Lefkothea who always appears wearing her magic scarf magnadi. According to the myth of Ino or Lefkothea (White Goddess), she was the goddess of the white foam of the waves who aided sailors in distress and guided them to safe waters.

The MAGNADI collection offers high quality, stylish fashion products authentic to the Greek heritage and tradition. The unique designs express nostalgia for the past and respect history.

MAGNADI founder and designer Margianna Dragoumanou spoke with The National Herald about the brand’s impressive 1821 collection celebrating the 200th anniversary of the Greek War of Independence.

TNH: How long did the 1821 designs take from idea to realization?

Margianna Dragoumanou: During the first lockdown in March 2020, I had plenty of time to get organized and think about my upcoming designs. The 200th anniversary of the Greek War of Independence was a subject of extreme importance to me, not because of the history itself but also because my hometown, Nafplio, is full of memories of ‘1821’. Therefore, I was certain that I had to design something special for ‘1821’. I did some research first to find what intrigued me the most, and within a month I had completed my collection for the 200th anniversary.

TNH: Being from the historic Nafplio, were you always interested in the history of the Greek Revolution?

MD: Nafplio is a small seaside picturesque place with a very rich history. In the Greek War of Independence, Nafplio had a major part to play while some of the leading figures of the Revolution left their imprint in this town. Laskarina Bouboulina with her ships was the first to attempt a siege of occupied Nafplio. Later, Staikos Staikopoulos and his men attacked and liberated Palamidi Castle and the town. Theodoros Kolokotronis, chief commander of the Revolution in the Peloponnese, lived for many years in Nafplio and with his troops fought and liberated the surrounding areas. Ioannis Kapodistrias, a brilliant diplomat, a Greek patriot, and one of the most distinguished politicians of all time, was the first Governor of the country, with Nafplio being the first capital of the New Republic. Wherever you walk in Nafplio there is a reminder of the events in ‘1821’, the streets have the names of the Revolution fighters, the buildings where they stayed are still part of the architecture of the city, while the three main squares of the town have been named to honor historical moments of the Revolution. When you grow up in a city like this, the source of inspiration comes naturally.

TNH: Were there any particular moments in the history of that period or specific historical figures who inspired you the most?

MD: The `1821′ silk collection is a celebration to the 200th anniversary of the Greek War of Independence featuring key revolutionary figures as well as important features and parts of the equipment the fighters used. Laskarina Bouboulina, leading heroine of the Greek War of Independence in 1821, built the largest ship that was called Agamemnon which played a major role in the Revolution. Reportedly, she was the first woman-admiral of the Imperial Russian Navy at the time, the only woman in history to hold the title! Her impeccable strength, her extraordinary naval skills in a completely male-dominated world, and her love for her nation, made her the iconic female hero for Greek history. Rigas Ferraios Velestinlis with his Thourios, wrote and sang for the freedom with this patriotic revolutionary hymn unveiling a strong emotion and love of his country. The `Geros you Moria’, Theodoros Kolokotronis, with his admirable courage and love for his nation was an empowering figure to a nation seeking freedom. Another inspiration was the phrase from the Memoirs of Makriyiannis, one of the heroes of 1821, in which he basically speaks out about equality and freedom and the right for someone to call Greece his home, his Patrida.

“Τούτην την πατρίδα την έχομεν όλοι μαζί, και σοφοί και αμαθείς και πλούσιοι και φτωχοί και πολιτικοί και στρατιωτικοί και οι πλέον μικρότεροι άνθρωποι… Όσοι αγωνιστήκαμεν αναλόγως ο καθείς έχομεν να ζήσωμεν ΕΔΩ.”

[We all have this homeland together, the wise and the ignorant, the rich and the poor, the politicians and military, and the smallest people… Those of us who fought accordingly each of us has to live HERE.”]

As regards the equipment, `tsarouchia’, the characteristic shoes with the pompom on top; `palaska’, the cartridge box decorated with symbolic images; and `fermeli’, the waistcoat of the Tsolia’s uniform, are the three most distinguishing and characteristic features of the outfit of the Tsolias, the warriors of Independence.

TNH: Where can we find your designs?

MD: My designs are all available online on my website www.magnadi.com, offering international shipping, while they are also available in limited numbers from local partners.

TNH: How has your family reacted to your designs and to your success?

MD: My family was very supportive from the beginning. While my mother, as an artist herself, helps me and is always my consultant, my father was quite skeptical with my decision of following a more creative path rather than a more office-type of job in a company. However, both of them are happy that I am doing something I really love, and I can say that most of the time they are the hardest judges of my work but also my best PR managers.

TNH: Your company also gives back through DESMOS, how did that partnership come about?

MD: From the start, when I created MAGNADI the aim was to be able to raise something for those in need. The first two years were very slow and I couldn’t keep my promise. Then in May 2020 during the pandemic, I felt a strong urge to do something more. A friend of mine told me about DESMOS – I contacted them to create an Easter campaign and since then, I’m trying with every sale to give something back. It is not much, but they told me that every penny counts to them, so I am still trying to be a loyal supporter of their cause. There are few small nonprofits that do such an extraordinary work to make our society a little better that I feel the need to help in any way I can.

TNH: What are you working on next?

MD: While working on my anniversary collection for ‘1821’, and specifically on the costumes of 1821, I came across the magnificence of the Greek embroidery art. Every region within Greece has excelled in craftsmanship, and they are so compelling, the designs you see in embroidery or pottery art and how the local customs and traditions are reflected in them. My upcoming collections are basically inspired by this traditional diversity, in a colorful silken journey of a `craftsy’ Greece.

More information about MAGNADI is available online: https://magnadi.com/.

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