Greek’s fashion scene feels pain with crisis

Greece is in crisis, but it was hard to tell at Athens fashion week, which showcased spring and summer collections for 2012. “Keep Greek Fashion in Your Hearts,” was the motto, a hard ask in a country on the verge of financial ruin.

But the models on the catwalk and the glitterati on the red carpet did their part.

Gowns shimmered, lipstick glistened. Pink cocktails flowed, courtesy of the sponsors.

Glamorous looks can be deceiving.

In Greece, shops are closing, unemployment is climbing, pensions are evaporating and people are protesting.

Austerity rules. Foreign loans are the norm, foreign investment is not. Few Greeks have the means or inclination to splurge on clothes, much less garments tailored to individual taste.

Fashion is the purview of the wealthy elites, but its struggle to adapt and even survive in the Greek mess mirrors other mired economic sectors.

And unlike some Greek industries, fashion never enjoyed staunch promotion by the state, as in powerhouses France or Italy, and most designers lack a strong production base for their portfolios.

A few Greek designers have international repute, such as Sophia Kokosalaki.

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