In New York City, Greek American Fashion Week Flaunts the Hellenic Spirit

MANHATTAN – A peek into many an art history book reveals the Greek genius for design and aesthetics. In the context of the annual Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week extravaganza in New York City, the events of Greek American Fashion Week demonstrate that the Hellenic spirit lives on in energetic producers and gifted designers.
The week’s affairs were hosted by The Greek America Foundation together with the Greek American Fashion Group led by Maria and Taso Pardalis. The Runway Event on September 7 was held at Studio450 in a dazzling white space with floor to ceiling windows that framed spectacular panoramic views of sunset-turns-to-dusk-turns-to-night New York City.
Eyes and ears and taste buds were the senses of the hour. After everyone enjoyed Hors doeuvres and desserts catered by Loi Restaurant and wines and spirits from Ya Mastiha and Nammos at the cocktail reception, the ladies strutted and moved to the sounds and beat of DJ Jonathan of International Sounds, accenting the clothes that were described as “elegant and fun.”
Nikki Poulos, an Australian by birth with roots from Kythera, led off the show. She was a designer and finalist on the NBS show Fashion Star and her collections have also graced the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition. She delighted the guests with 70s-style psychedelic colored pants suits and dresses, with circles inscribed in diamond shapes, pink and black and yellow and black blocks, and stripes.
Stratton was the most conservative of the group, but one of his models got the attention of the “Mars” component of the audience with an outfit of cream-colored hot pants, black blouse and white jacket, and with the flapper looks of the women that donned black and gold lame turbans.
The program noted “Stratton’s design ethos has demonstrated how forward yet timeless creations of graceful, structured pieces can become progressive.”
Tatiana Raftis was born in Astoria but her work is inspired both by New York and her parents’ homeland of Cyprus. “Thematically, Tatiana draws influence from antiquity.” Her cocktail dresses, long black pants suit, and rompers – one piece shorts outfits – shimmered and shined. She created the model’s accessories like the turbans herself.
Angelo Lambrou, also a Cypriot-American, closed the show on a stirring Haute couture note. He has distinguished himself as a New York designer through his bridal outfits and exclusive custom-fitted couture.
The creations were gloriously accented by the 60s-inspired hair styling of Christo, whose shop graces Manhattan’s fashion central, Fifth Avenue.
The sold-out event’s proceeds will benefit the activities of the Foundation “with a particular focus on the creation of a scholarship for a student pursuing fashion design,” according to the program. Gregory Pappas, the Foundation’s founder and Chairman said he is “proud to host the Greek American Fashion Week for our community in an effort.”
There was also a silent auction organized by the Foundation’s Katerina Sfikas. Volunteer Katerina Melis told TNH that all the items were donate and included fashion gifts such as dresses from the designers, and sports memorabilia – women dominated the affair but many men attended.
The guests received gift bags worth more than $300, which included items donated by Mana Products, and they later enjoyed the After-Party at the STIX Mediterranean Grill.
Greek American Fashion Week was born, according to the program, after it became apparent to the organizers that many Hellenes in New York “either operated their own fashion labels or held prominent positions at top fashion and design companies…The purpose was “to promote the image of a thriving Greek, Cypriot, and Greek-American community within the Fashion industry.”
Founding members Maria and Taso Pardalis welcomed the guests and offered deep thanks to the volunteers that made the impressive, well-organized events possible. Maria also expressed deep appreciation for the sponsors. Sunday’s venue cost $7000 to rent and the models’ fees were $8000.
She told TNH that after last year’s inaugural Greek Fashion Week, they are now officially part of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, partly thanks to CBS TV declaring the 2012 endeavor one of the top three fashion events “outside the tents.”
Dennisia Slabakis, Co-founder/President of the Carnival of Love charitable foundation, said “Maria and Taso Pardalis are putting on an amazing show with their committees.” She added that at a time like this with Greece and Cyprus in crisis, “it is important to support and promote Greek talent.” She helped with production and the recruiting sponsors.
Nikos Mouyiaris, a chemist who established Mana Products in 1975, which is now a leading international contract and private label manufacturer of prestige beauty products, told TNH that “this is an amazing and well attended event” – the show’s auditorium was jammed with two runways, European style – “that makes us very proud… that’s what we need, young people to take the lead and show the world what Greeks and young Greeks can do here in the business center of the world.”
Tatiana Deligiannakis helped on the P.R. committee and attended the runway show with her husband Anthony Constantinople. She too praised the volunteers, led by the Pardalises, for their “countless hours, coordinating multiple teams, fashion designers, and buyers,” which included Bloomingdales, Macy’s, Nieman-Marcus and various Manhattan boutiques.
“It’s a great example the community coming together to produce a highly stylized and glamorous event,” and stressed the importance of such endeavors for young Hellenes to help get started in a very tough industry to break into.
Her deep and long history with fashion began with her parents’ clothing store in Astoria which was called Tatiana’s Boutique. Not a born designer, she pursed a fashion career through journalism, but she became a crime reporter instead. She agreed, however, that “what some people wear is truly a crime.”
The confluence of Hellenic-American time, talent, and treasure, however, was an inspiration for the whole community.

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