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Daphne Valente: Greek women are fashionable but with no flair

22 November 2010 / 16:11:43  GRReporter
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Daphne Valente is known to Greek audience for her courageous proactive creations in fashion since 1985. She is the one to sell classic Greek pleats in the most famous stores in the world. Her collections "Orthodoxy", "Atlantis", "Brides," "Garden of feelings", "Baroque and Roll", "Doll’s house" and others present Greece around the globe with huge success. After graduating from fashion design at FIT in New York and St. Martin's School in London, Valente returned to her homeland to take the path of local fashion catwalks artist. She became the president of the Union of Greek Fashion Designers in 2005 and is actively involved in organizing the Greek Fashion Week Athens Collections in Style. In recent years she designed primarily jewelry.

The designer presents an exhibition titled Lightness of Being on the occasion of her 25th anniversary in the fashion world. Although it is not retrospective, it presents some works typical for her. The exhibition also features some of the most famous photographers who caught in the lightness of being in their lenses. Among them are Tassos Vrettos, Vassilis Vrettos, Zeta Adsakli, Yangos Athanassopoulos, Nikos Vardakastanis, Katerina Vafia, Lydia Venieri, Marina Vernikou, Mara Desipri, Akiss Paraskevopoulos, Stefanos Pashos, Roula Revi, Pavlos Samios, Juliane Biallas, Bill Georgoussis.
The jubilee exhibition leading idea is motion. It is the symbol of the title lightness of being. It reflects ephemeralness of things. But "in the positive sense" as the author herself points out. Wandering around the gallery, she presented those jewelry and accessories: "Motion is typical for all my works. I do not like static and straight clothes. My dresses ‘dance’ when a woman moves. There is always motion in my jewelry. The inspiration for my new series of jewelry made of silver, gold and platinum is a ribbon blown by the wind. This ribbon motions could be seen everywhere. So, I decided to call the exhibition Lightness of Being. But my idea of ephemeralness has nothing to do with Milan Kundera's book or movie. Therefore, the title is missing the word "impossible." Ephemeralness and things going by is not necessarily something negative. People could not bear, for example, that we are talking now, but our talk will end and disappear into being. But things go by and let them go by. And we are here only temporarily ... We live in difficult times and to relax mentally is something very positive. Of course, we could look at the negative side of the lightness of being. We are currently paying for it in Greece. We have been living with ease for many years... But this is another ‘chapter’... "
While still walking around the hall, Daphne Valente said: "Inspiration for me is a game. Whatever I do, whether clothing or jewelry, I create it by playing with the material. It is born from the game. I make something then I pull it down, then I make something again and pull it down again until finally the thing is born. I liked working with this mobile jewelry type from the outset. You know, these are the toys that hang over the beds of children. Wall decorations you see are inspired by these toys and the 4 of my favorite artists Karavadzhio, Leonardo da Vinci, Lawrence Alma-Tadema and Gustav Klimt. They have a dual role as they are intended to be women's necklaces too. The specimens are unique and there are no two of a kind."

What inspires you?

I have collections based on books and movies, but motion is what inspires me very much. Everything that moves. The sea. My roots, the Greek. I have collections inspired by olives and Venus de Milo. I have been working with traditional Greek pleat since 1987. But my inspiration is not connected with fashion. I could even say that I've created anti fashion. I have never followed what others do. I have never kept in step with them. When suits were fashionable, for example, I made lace blouses. Why should everyone wear the same things? It was a bit difficult and lonely way but finally I see my customers wear my clothes for many years. They have no time sequence. They have constant value.

What are your favorite colours?

I love black. I sold black clothes twice as much compared to others when I made collections. Overall, however, I like calm tones, earth colours, beige. I turn to other combinations from time to time. The last collection I made was based solely on strong colours. And I saw how people liked it. People love colours.... I am calm as a person, but sometimes I like to do something stronger.

You studied in New York and London. What did you learn there?

I learned the technique in New York. Patron’s basics, history of fashion ... But our work was not so creative. I learned to be creative in London. I was lucky that I made such a good choice. The biggest names in the fashion world come from St. Martin's School. I was given great impetus to create. I needed this because I was a little distant at first. Then, my graduation work was sold in one of the best restaurants in London. It was a great success for me.

How easy it was to conquer the catwalks in Greece?

It was difficult to return to Greece with something new. I had to go through many difficulties to be understood. Here xenomania existed and continues to exist. The Greek woman will put whatever foreign designers offer. But it is not the same with Greek designers. I remember when a customer tried on a jacket once. While she was wondering whether to buy it, she whispered to her husband: "If this was Paul Gaultier's I would buy it ..." This complex continues to exist. Greek designers have to struggle a lot to draw the attention.

Tags: Daphne ValenteFashionLightness of beingJewelry Apparel
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