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Society

Sophia Kokosalaki, Greek Fashion Designer, Was 46

October 19, 2019

LONDON – Greek fashion and jewelry designer Sophia Kokosalaki died on October 13 after a brief battle with cancer, Kathimerini reported. She was 46 years old.

Kokosalaki was born in Athens November 3, 1972 and studied literature at Athens University. Between London, where she lived, her native Athens and her beloved Crete, her parents’ ancestral home, she built an international career with creative contrasts that helped her stand out on the globalized playing field of the fashion industry.

Inspired by her cultural heritage the Minoan, ancient Greek and Byzantine cultures, among others, and with a profound desire to forge her own, unconventional path, Kokosalaki became an expert in draping, enjoyed using handcrafted details and explored the connections between fashion and architecture.

Above all, she was, in her own words, driven by “memory and emotion,” Kathimerini reported. Feelings and concepts that she drew from figures like the Minoan snake goddess found their way discreetly into Kokosalaki’s collections.

She created ready-to-wear collections that were embraced by women who didn’t loyally follow prevalent trends and preferred individual looks that set them apart. Like the iconic “Sex and the City” character, Carrie Bradshaw, the stylistic standard-bearer of her time who wore a Sophia Kokosalaki dress in one episode.

The designer was encouraged to explore her fascination with her roots by one of her professors at Central Saint Martins in London. The academic encouraged the budding designer to delve into her visual roots and Kokosalaki did this without falling for folklore, by interpreting the past on postmodern terms. Her talents were soon spotted by the experts, like Suzy Menkes and Sarah Mower, when Kokosalaki presented her graduate collection in 1998.

She launched into her own, self-named brand but also worked with fashion houses Joseph, Ruffo Research and Diesel Black Gold. The revival of the legendary French house Vionnet, founded by pioneer Madeleine Vionnet, was another career highlight.

Kokosalaki started becoming a household name in her native Greece during the 2004 Olympic Games after she designed the costumes for the more than 6,000 people (including singer Bjork) who appeared in the opening and closing ceremonies, on the invitation of the events’ artistic director, choreographer Dimitris Papaioannou. Later, in 2015, she designed the uniforms for Aegean Airlines cabin crews, while another collection she created for the newly revamped Astir resort in Vouliagmeni, southern Athens, was also recently unveiled.

After several years in ready-to-wear, Kokosalaki decided to take a break from this highly competitive environment. She had a daughter and turned her creative attentions to demi-fine jewelry collections that were also inspired by her cultural heritage. She also showed an interest in contemporary art, as a hobby rather than as a collector, she said, and made sure to spend at least one month a year on Crete, Kathimerini reported.

Kokosalaki is survived by Antony Baker, her partner and the managing director of her brand, and her daughter Stelli, the New York Times reported.

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