Marios Karavasilis Combines The Art Of Performance With Fashion

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Marios Karavasilis, a visionary fashion designer, seamlessly bridges the worlds of theatre and haute couture through his mesmerising creations. With a career rooted in the dramatic arts, Karavasilis found his calling in fashion, infusing his theatrical sensibilities into his designs. His garments are veritable works of art, each piece telling a unique story, often blurring the lines between fashion and performance art. Karavasilis has a penchant for crafting extravagant and theatrical costumes that captivate audiences with their intricate details and dramatic flair. His ability to transform fabrics into living narratives has earned him acclaim in both the fashion and entertainment industries, solidifying his place as a trailblazer in the world of dramatic couture.

Greek City Times spoke to Karavasilis to learn more.

Can you tell us about your educational background and studies in the fashion industry? How did your studies shape your approach to design?

During my childhood years, I realised my deep passion for the arts. After graduating from high school, I studied music and dance, participating in musical performances. This led me to expand my knowledge by studying at Georgios Theodosiadis Drama School in Athens. After my graduation, I founded a theatre company with the aim of expressing myself as a producer and actor.

That's when I also realised my interest in theatrical costume design, as I had creatively contributed to it, even at an amateur level, with very positive feedback. In 2011, the theatre company closed, and I decided to actively pursue a career in fashion.

I studied fashion design, pattern design, and styling at Veloudakis Fashion School. After graduating, I established my own fashion brand, "MK BY MARIOS," with the goal of combining theatrical culture and philosophy with the fashion industry. In conclusion, all of my studies served as a connecting link that allowed me to create and evolve in the fashion and entertainment industry up to this day.

MK by Marios has gained significant recognition in the fashion world. Can you share the inspiration behind your brand's unique identity and design philosophy?

As I mentioned earlier, my deepest desire and purpose, my vision was to successfully combine the art of performance with the fashion industry, in whatever form that may take. This presented a significant challenge for the brand, but it quickly found recognition, acceptance, and acknowledgment from the public, even though the brand's philosophy was not purely commercial. On the contrary, the inspiration to create "compositions" with different materials and fabric textures gives the impression of a symbolic and figurative story in each collection.

Collaborations have become a common trend in the fashion industry. Could you elaborate on any exciting collaborations you've undertaken for MK by Marios? How do these collaborations contribute to your brand's growth?

Certainly, brand collaborations have become an integral part of the fashion industry, especially in recent years, during economic downturns, where this trend can have positive effects. As a fashion designer and creative director of the brand, I have not collaborated with another designer or brand in a combined fashion. However, the overall activity and promotion of the company through various forms of collaboration with significant theatrical productions, video clips, projects, and even the expansion of my role as a teacher at the "Athens Fashion Club" Fashion School have all been collaborations with constructive results for my work in the fashion industry.

As a fashion designer, you've made a name for yourself locally and internationally. How has designing abroad influenced your creativity and design aesthetics?

I truly feel a special sense of reward, as my design work in Greece has garnered recognition and favourable reviews through fashion shows and photoshoot projects I've undertaken abroad. I have received various proposals for the future, but as an individual and creator, I never make hasty decisions because I believe that at the right moment, in each move we make, we "create" it when the time is right, with maturity and consistency. The international market certainly interests me in any form of collaboration.

Fashion shows play a crucial role in showcasing a designer's collection. Could you describe one of your most memorable fashion show experiences? How do you ensure that your designs have a captivating "acting approach" on the runway?

It's really difficult for me to single out a specific collection, as each one has been created as a unique and distinct project for each season. However, if I had to highlight one, it would undoubtedly be my first fashion show, the "METHEXIS" collection for F/W 15-16. It was created during a very special and characteristic period in my life. This collection was recognised by Athens Fashion Week as the “Best Trend Setter Designer”.

This award and presentation meant a lot to me because it was a moral confirmation that my transition from the theatre world to the fashion industry had been successful. It became evident that from the very beginning, my approach of seeing each collection as an interactive fashion story - with the model as an actor who performs dramatically on the runway through the outfit - was a bet that paid off. I was simply being my creative self, and that's the feeling I have when I know something will work on the catwalk. By instinct now, I know whether something will work in terms of design or direction.

Your designs have been praised for their unique and innovative approach. Can you shed some light on how your designs incorporate this acting approach and what emotions or messages you aim to convey through your creations?

As I mentioned earlier regarding the overall approach and philosophy of the brand, my main concern is to set the stage from the beginning of the collection. That is, how I set up, how I conceptualise the central idea of the collection in my mind based on the entire mood board inspiration. The theme of the collection, the colour palette, the categories and textures of the fabrics, the shapes, patterns, and volumes that will be created, all aim to capture the inspiration, giving the viewer the freedom to imagine and interpret the entire art direction. Art direction is both the beginning and the end of the fashion show, as it conveys the pulse and vibes to the audience.

You must have received numerous awards and recognitions throughout your career. Which award or recognition holds the most significance to you, and how has it impacted your journey as a fashion designer?

In a previous response, I mentioned that my first award from Athens Fashion Week was a significant and pivotal factor in my evolution in the fashion industry. However, another equally significant recognition for me was when, during the lockdown restrictions, all Fashion Weeks were presenting digital collections of fashion brands. I had the honour of receiving a significant invitation from "Flame International London UK," based in London, to present the "ECHO" collection F/W 19-20 as a quest designer from Greece among approximately 15 countries worldwide, and I was honoured with the "Best International Designer / Creative 2021" award.

In the ever-evolving fashion industry, staying relevant is essential. How do you continuously push the boundaries of your designs while staying true to your brand's essence?

Indeed, staying informed and up-to-date with the modern demands of fashion is a daily challenge. As a fashion designer and creative director of the brand, the challenge is to be able to create in line with the brand's design identity while also ensuring that the business remains sustainable within a more commercial framework. I believe this balance is the recipe for success, as through my expression, collections, and collaborations, the showroom also maintains activity for outfit rentals and tailor-made services for various occasions and projects. In each season, you must evolve and surpass yourself.

Can you share a challenging project or collection you've worked on and how you overcame obstacles during the design process? What did you learn from that experience?

I have faced several challenging projects over time, but one of the most demanding projects I undertook was when I received an invitation to participate in the "MADMOOD MILAN" fashion week in Milan as a quest designer representing Greece. Each designer from every country had to create a conceptual outfit with the theme "Fashion & Mediterranean food." It was a combination of interpreting fashion through the culture of Mediterranean cuisine from each participating country and translating it into clothing. The deadlines were quite tight and demanding, but I was very excited about the challenge. I decided to depict the famous "Greek Salad" recipe on the garment.

I found fabric with prints of olives in red and green to match the color palette of the recipe. After the presentation, I had the honour of being approached by the organisation to have an exclusive collaboration with an Italian organic olive oil manufacturing company, where the outfit would be printed on the bottle cover. It was a unique experience that led me to the next step in my business activities, and it certainly made me proud.

Fashion is an industry that thrives on trends. How do you balance incorporating current trends into your collections while maintaining a distinct and timeless style for MK by Marios?

That is the purpose of the brand. It is about keeping the audience informed about current or upcoming trends through my artistic perspective. My continuous awareness of trends and my adaptation to the corresponding concept of the collection create the balance. Of course, the art direction plays a crucial role in achieving the final result. If you carefully observe my collections, you will see that beyond the avant-garde disposition and the over-styling of the outfits, many of my individual pieces also have a commercial character.

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