It's impossible not to feel inspired when you're in Greece. From the picture perfect clear blue waters to the iconic white houses of the islands, to the mouth-watering cuisine, the lauded nightlife and the way endless historical ruins inevitably spring your imagination to life.
Greek Australian Elena Softsis was so inspired by the handcrafted fashions and unique designs on her recent family holiday to Greece she felt compelled to make them accessible to Australia. After establishing relationships with local designers and months of collaborating, she has just launched an online shopping destination which showcases the creations of both emerging and established Greek designers. The curated collection includes handcrafted jewellery and bags, luxurious silk scarves and premium resort wear.
“Walking into the sophisticated fashion boutiques both on the islands and in Athens, it quickly became apparent to me, that there was a talented Greek fashion scene that was differentiated by its emphasis on artisanal handcrafted products.
“The designers we have collaborated with are a mix of emerging and established talent,” Softsis says. “Their common thread is that they are immensely talented, passionate about design and have a real sense of pride about their respective brand.
“We are so fortunate to launch with super talented jewellery designers namely, Antonia Karra, Danai Giannelli, and Mary Gaitani. Between them, they have featured in international fashion magazines such as Vogue Italia, Vanity Fair, Marie Claire, and Harper’s Bazaar and have showcased their creations at jewellery exhibitions in Paris, Milan, and Munich to name a few.”
The curated bag collection celebrates traditional craft techniques, including hand looming by the Cretan brand KLOTHO, crochet by Miss Polyplexi and embroidery by It’s All Greek On Me, each applying age-old techniques to create bags which entwine tradition with contemporary design.
“Many of the designers have maintained traditional craft techniques such as embroidery, hand looming, needlework and given them a contemporary and fresh application,” Softsis says. “There is a focus on slow fashion which reflects genuine craftsmanship and artisanal quality. Many of the products we sell have taken hours if not days to be made. They are labours of love and craftsmanship and this is reflected in the quality of the products we sell.”
“The people behind the brands and the stories they tell through their creations are inspiring. Many of the designers we have collaborated with are women who have retrained in design or have been taught traditional craft techniques from their mothers and grandparents. Some of the collections are an ode to their family history, ancient Greek history, and mythology. It makes each of the products curated for Santo + Rini particularly special and symbolic.”
Many of the pieces in the collection have been designed exclusively for Santo + Rini, such as the Kyma and Helios hand loomed clutches designed by Alexandra Theohari (KLOTHO), which are masterpieces and really showcase the beauty and artistry of hand looming.
“Many of the designers we have collaborated with are not being sold anywhere else in Australia at present and we are honoured that they have chosen Santo + Rini to be the first to showcase their designs to the Australian market,” Softsis says.
It is hard for Softsis to select favourites from the collection as all the pieces she has curated have essentially been based on designs that have resonated with her and left her in awe of the brilliance of Greek design and craftsmanship.
“If I had to name a few, I would say the heirloom collection by Danai Giannelli which is marked by sophisticated Hellenic designs that pay homage to her family heirlooms. Some of the pieces have been cast from coins that date back to the Byzantine period,” Softsis says.
“Also the statement handcrafted earrings by Antonia Karra. Her latest collection ‘Pleiades’ takes inspiration from Greek mythology and evokes a sense of drama and glamour.
“The luxurious silk scarves by MAGNADI and Emmanuelle Silk take you on a visual journey to the Aegean and incorporate motifs of Greek mythology and ancient history."
Asked to name the top 5 must-have summer pieces for the 2019 summer in Greece, Softsis is quick in her response:
- Kaftans – which can take you from the beach, to the bar to dinner. Bold prints and embroidery details are a must.
- Bangles– the more colourful the better. Mix and match complementary styles and textures and wear them stacked.
- Statement earrings– that can take you from day to night. Embellished with semi-precious stones to add a glamourous air to your favourite summer outfits.
- Crochet Bags– add a feminine touch to your summer outfits and depending on their size, can be worn as elegant handbags and oversized totes.
- Silk scarves– add a dash of colour to any outfit and are such versatile accessories. Wear them worn as a chic headscarf with oversized sunglasses, as a pussy bow around your neck or as a sophisticated hair sash.
Resort wear is also on the horizon and Softsis has collaborated with some amazing designers and brands that are taking Greece by storm and are also highly sought after in other parts of Europe. “Their use of premium fabric, bold unique prints, and delicate embroidery details make the pieces we have curated for Santo +Rini ‘must haves’ for the upcoming Australian Spring /Summer wardrobe. Watch this space as you won’t be disappointed!” Softsis says.