Like the elite Greek soldiers bursting out of the Trojan Horse in Troy, Iordanes Spyridon Gogos has exploded onto the Australian – indeed the global – creative scene with a vengeance, seizing it by storm.
Thus it seems only fitting that the logo chosen by 27-year-old Greek Australian Jordan Gogos to front his namesake brand is, in fact, a Trojan Horse.
"The Trojan Horse… symbolises the brand's approach to breaking into the industry and ushering new ideas. So, it's really about bringing new people into the industry and changing the way we engage in fashion," says Jordan Gogos, founder of Iordanes Spyridon Gogos.
Founded by Gogos in 2019 with the intention to use the brand as a conduit for community making and co-design, Iordanes Spyridon Gogos is described as experimental, non-gendered and innovative in its approaches to sustainability through practice-led design research methodologies.
With a creative fluidity that defies the constraints of any traditional label, when he has been pressed in the past, Gogos has settled for the title of 'multidisciplinary designer'.
His artistic ingenuity first made waves with his signature 'Tria' table, a geometric and sculptural piece crafted from aluminium that you may have noticed gracing the interiors of some of Australian fashion designer Dion Lee's boutiques around Australia.
His works have since extended beyond furniture and into the realms of fashion, art, spaces, wholistic experiences and beyond.
The Iordanes Spyridon Gogos label (ISG) staged its debut runway show at Afterpay Australian Fashion Week (AAFW) in 2021, receiving widespread acclaim for its colourful celebration of community and collaboration.
Iordanes Spyridon Gogos' runway was just that — a punchy kaleidoscope of queer and quirky designs brimming with unbridled enthusiasm and raw passion. Harpers Bazaar
Next for Gogos followed a Melbourne Fashion week install and the invitation to be a part of the Melbourne Art Fair as a brand ambassador, during which he teamed up with Glenfiddich Whisky in the creation of an "endlessly innovative and immersive pop-up bar, come art installation."
The following year, as part of Afterpay Australian Fashion Week 2022, Gogos set the Australian fashion industry on fire with his wildly imaginative runway presentation produced in collaboration with the iconic Australian Powerhouse Museum Ultimo - the first time in the museums' 141 year history to ever stage a runway show.
For this 'Iordanes Spyridon Gogos x Powerhouse for Afterpay Australian Fashion Week 2022' runway presentation, ISG further expanded their already collaborative approach, directly engaging with the museum's narrative and multidisciplinary collection.
In a truly unique and never-before-taken approach, the label joined forces with more than 60 individuals and institutions working across a range of disciplines, extending beyond fashion pioneers to include architects, musicians, florists, students and more to create the collection for the runway.
Furniture-turned-fashion designer Jordan Gogos massively upped the stakes. A collaborator at heart, Gogos tapped 60 of the world's best and brightest creatives and institutions for this collection — including Australia's own Powerhouse Museum, marking the first-ever runway at the iconic Sydney location in its 142-year history.
Vice President-Managing Director of IMG, the global event company managing Fashion Week, Natalie Xenita, said at the time, "We are thrilled to support ISG as part of Afterpay Australian Fashion Week for this exciting collaboration with one of Sydney's most significant cultural intuitions. ISG's return to the official schedule in 2022 solidifies Australian Fashion Week's reputation as the global launch pad for Australia's best emerging creative talent."
And thus, Gogos' burgeoning hold in the hearts of creatives across the nation was cemented.
Last month, more of the creative's unbridled genius was showcased by Sydney Gallery Sally Dan-Cuthbert, as it presented for the first time Gogos's elaborate, handmade, embroidered, flat wall art in 'Un/constrained', Gogos's first solo exhibition, comprising an intricate series of technicolour, mixed media artworks created in his studio at the Powerhouse Museum,
"Jordan's exhibition has been greatly received across the board, by curators, collectors and fellow artists as well as the general public who pass by and are drawn in by the colour and form," said gallery owner Sally Dan-Cuthbert, speaking to Greek City Times.
"This is definitely an exhibition one needs to visit in person to grasp the full complexity and gravity of the work.
"The textiles are intricate and mesmerising. The functional sculpture intriguing, playful and fine.
"For a young artist to work across disparate mediums with such skill is also quite remarkable."
In the midst of the accolades for this, his first solo exhibition, Greek City Times spoke to the creative genius himself, Mr Jordan Gogos.
When people start learning about your work, you may first become known to them for your work in the fashion industry, only to discover that you are also known for your art; also furniture design as well as for your work across a whole array of creative realms.
Yes. A can of worms opens up.
And I love keeping it like that. I like keeping people on their toes. I think my art is one of those things where people really enjoy the art, but second to that, people are really just as intrigued by my journey.
People ask me more about how I got to where I got versus my art sometimes – "What do you mean you started with furniture, then you were doing Vogue covers, then you were doing fashion and then you were doing bars?"
I have just come down this path.
How would you define your work?
It's the art of design and the design of art. I have been called so many things – a multi-hyphenate, multidisciplinary, people ask– including myself – "what do I call myself??"
I enjoy that it's miscellaneous - no one knows, I don't even know sometimes!
Designing the actual garment is one thing, but I'm also designing the context.
Yes, I had the solo exhibition recently, but when we are describing my other work, say, for example, my work in Australian Fashion Week, the art isn't just the clothing. It's the different people being pulled in to collaborate. It's holding the first-ever runway show at the Powerhouse Museum - the project at large is almost an artwork or a design work itself.
People study design in that kind of way – designing situations and experiences.
When designing an event of that magnitude, how do you begin? What is your process?
Nothing big starts big ever. It's always a really small seed, and you build on it.
With the powerhouse, I didn't start off with a team of 60 collaborators. Collaborations and money came on as the project grew – you build it. And the same happens on the financial side. You don't have a pool of money at the beginning of a project; money starts to be fed in, so you build the project as you go, and the scope evolves as you go.
You have said, "The challenge is not designing but getting onto the same wavelength as collaborators". How do you communicate your vision to collaborators so that they are able to work in with you to the level that they need to?
Time is a really big factor. People who came consistently to the studio ended up succeeding completely on a personal level; they understood the brief and the project.
I am a big intervener – I will look at something and say, "Too much of one colour, I can see too much pink", for example, and then I will jump out and let them figure out how to make our vision happen.
The biggest challenge for me was maintaining the stamina that was required for a project of that scope.
I look back, and I think I don't know how I did it. I was there for crazy hours of the day in a vortex.
Family Life and Career Aspirations
The strong ties to your Greek heritage are clearly evident. For example, the brand's Trojan Horse logo and using your Greek name as the name of the brand. Can you tell us about your Greek heritage?
My family comes from Epirus and Corinth in Greece.
I had the full Orthodox upbringing whilst still growing up in Sydney's Sutherland Shire and went to Greek school until year 10, around 16 years old.
We were lucky to have my yiayias and poupou here with us in Sydney, Australia, actually in the suburb of Hurstville, which was very heavily Greek at the time – the whole street was Greek.
I spent every weekend there and my grandparents would speak to me in Greek, with the Greek news on in the background all the time.
Have you always wanted to be a designer?
I think so. But I think with our Greek background, a lot of our yiayias or poupous or parents were somewhat creative - either knitters, or someone was a seamstress or something along those lines.
Even the cooking aspect for Greeks is very performative and creative. It's not just like, 'we're going to make some food and you eat it.' It's something creative.
I grew up around tapestries - wall textile artwork. Instead of paintings in my grandparents' house there were tapestries - there were no paintings. It was their way of creating affordable art.
Textile artwork in Greek households, especially in Australia, has always been hugely prominent. We didn't grow up with photographic prints or large-scale paintings, it was all from the Greek Orthodox stores, or it was textile artwork.
So that element of creativity has always been present.
What advice would you have for young creatives looking to succeed in the design space?
When people see my work everyone sees the impact and can make it really complicated and wonder how did it get to that endpoint. But when you skim it right back to the origins of my career, it was actually starting with a very basic concept which I stuck to and took from start to finish.
Take, for example, my signature 'Tria' table, a sculptural piece crafted from aluminium which you may have spotted inside some of designer Dion Lees boutiques around Australia.
The way I designed it was with four triangles.
Basically, my design teacher told me to work with just one shape to make a design. So I sat there just folding paper triangles – no design programme or ruler – to make a table.
But I didn't just make a table.
I was sharing the table as an end product. I took a video of the table, I photographed the table, I made a logo, I put it on a website. I only had just one table - I didn't have a workshop of them but I treated it like a world.
Whenever I see amazing talent, I tell people that you need to take this one thing that you're doing as far as you can until it's really finished. Push it further.
Hold onto that one thing that you love and believe in it so much until other people believe in it.
Iordanes Spyridon Gogos
We love that your Trojan Horse logo fronting the brand symbolises your approach in "ushering new ideas and approaches into the industry through collaborations with creatively minded people." What new ideas and approaches would you say that you have brought to the Australian – or even the global – fashion industry?
Obviously, speaking with regard to the fashion shows, there are obviously established artists and designers in Australia; however, maybe the scale of their brand isn't at a point where it would be included in Fashion Week.
If you look at the history of Australian Fashion Week, it has been predominated by commercial Anglo-Saxon brands. There's a very certain mould that the Greek culture or even just the Greek feeling - hasn't sat in at all.
A lot of the artists I have collaborated with are jewellery makers, 3d printers, for example, and no matter how talented or successful they are outside of fashion week, they have not previously existed within Fashion Week. They are not going to have a runway for their jewellery brand - unless you are a big commercial brand, you don't go on that runway.
In this context, I would say that the new approach that the ISG brand brings is to break all of these different practices into the mainstream and giving them visibility in a different way.
It's breaking in new ideas into this space and giving these artists a voice and visibility in a different way.
There is a powerful indigenous influence present throughout your runway collections and work. You say that to you, "Australian fashion and design means centring indigenous/ First Nation fashion first and foremost." Can you tell us about this?
Indigenous fashion will always be – and should be – at the front of Australian fashion.
It's very much like, "How do we work together? Because this is your country."
So that's why I really wanted to have indigenous representation on the runway, and I wanted to make sure it felt really organic and authentic to the work.
As Greeks, you have the stories of ancient Greece. Similarly, indigenous culture is so rich in storytelling and customs that you can connect in a design point so much deeper.
It's the storytelling of our Australian history.
And I think the more I work with indigenous Australian designers, the more I want to work with them.
Does art have the power to change the world? Somebody recently wrote:
"Every artist plays a part in contributing to the overall health, development, and well-being of our society. Creative thinkers and makers provide their communities with joy, interaction, and inspiration, but they also give thoughtful critique to our political, economic and social systems — pushing communities to engage thoughtfully and make steps toward social progress."
With this in mind, what do you see as your role as a creative contributor to society, and the world at large?
Does art have the power to change the world? Of course it does.
You get the messages through in a very strong way.
However, when you say 'changing the world', the phrase feels so big and weighted. I don't think the show happens, and then climate change ends.
It's more about reinforcing that you're supportive of those important message and hopefully helping with the communication of those messages to society so that people start to become really familiar with those themes, and accepting and supporting of them. And doing better than me at it.
Yes, changing the world is one thing, but I think opening a door that's going to lead to another is something that's more exciting to me.
'Un/constrained' is your first solo exhibition and you were able to showcase your art in concert with your furniture and it worked in so beautifully together. Can you tell us about the experience?
The art exhibition has been different because it's not just a live event that starts and ends; the exhibition goes for a month. It's really interesting to me
It's a very ongoing thing - maybe other artists are used to it, but I'm not.
Everyone has been comparing them to different artists like Pollock with his drip paintings.
Even though my pieces are textile work, the art is so visual that from afar it almost looks like a painting.
People can go up close to the textile and really see what's involved in the work.
It's not running past them in a runway show. You get to actually experience the tactility of these works and the genuine labour that gets poured in with them.
For the Family
What do you think has been your greatest achievement thus far?
I think when my brother, as a ten-year-old, said to me, "What you do is cool", and I thought, "This is what it's all for."
He just thinks I'm the coolest person in the world.
I feel my work has brought the whole family together. It constantly creates moments where the family comes to see it, and we are all together.
My grandparents come to the shows.
The first year, my yiayia walked backstage, and she was literally trembling and crying while saying, "It's beautiful! It's fabulous!"
It's just been one big thing after another after another. It's almost like I'm having a wedding every year. It really is "Jordan's getting married!" every year, and it's really something for us all to look forward to on a grand scale.
It's got to a point where I could literally say, "I'm going to paint the whole Parliament House”, and they would say, "Amazing!" I mean, what do you say!?
There are not many families that get to say they are going to their son's art show, fashion show, or Melbourne art fair bar install.
It's kind of cool.
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