In 2018, Atelier Bartavelle, a French fashion brand created in Paris by Alexia Tronel and Caroline Perdrix, launched Itinérance (Travelogue) a project development of their personal brand Atelier Bartavelle.
Their travelogue starts from Greece and more specifically from Tinos and continues through to four other Mediterranean countries: Tunisia, Lebanon, Morocco, and Turkey. Their aim is to create a limited collection of clothes made by women of a past generation, which intends to transmit the experience and knowledge of those women to the present generation.
Everything started when Caroline saw a friend wearing a beautiful sweater that had been knitted by his Greek grandmother. The idea of creating a feminine collection by women of a past generation came to her, as she thought it would be wonderful if they could share their vast experience and knowledge with younger people.
In this context, Alexia and Caroline, since 2018 have travelled to five Mediterraneanean countries (Greece, Tynisia, Morocco, Lebanon and Turkey) to create five limited edition collections in collaboration with local craftsmen.
The journey started from Greece and specifically the island of Tinos, with the program “Yaya” (grandma). “We sent an e-mail to everyone we knew in Greece asking them to put us in contact with grandmothers who knew how to crochet and knit. Tinos emerged because we found many grandmothers there. But the most essential moment was when we met them in person and they agreed to help us with our project,” said the girls.
In order to demonstrate that it is possible to develop an entirely local garment production, they decided to work with one of the last suppliers of greek wool, Molokotos, the most important producer of woolen yarns in Greece. The company was founded in 1936 in Constantinople, and has been a thriving business up to the 1980’s. Since then, there has been a significant fall as ready-to-wear knits have gained ground. However, it should be noted there is a relatively upward trend in handmade knitwear.
The result of this project was the creation of a limited collection of 12 unique sweaters hand-knitted by the grandmothers of Tinos aged 60-90 years old. “Knitting is still part of the social association of women on the islands. Especially during winter, women meet together and knit. It plays a catalytic role, especially for the elderly, because it makes them feel productive and useful, while as a form of expression it creates a sense of self-esteem,” they added.
The handmade sweaters of Tinos were already presented at Gallerie Lafayette in Nice and Paris and exhibited at the Benaki Museum in Athens as part of a larger exhibition devoted to the Itinerance program.
Alexia and Caroline will continue their cooperation with the Yiayiades (grandmothers) of Tinos through pre-orders.