AnOther has partnered with 1 Granary to create a series of Emerging Talent pieces, celebrating some of the most exciting upcoming creatives working in fashion design today.
An effortless aesthetic doesn’t always come naturally. A minimalist at heart, designer Eftychia Karamolegkou champions understated dressing, yet her reinvention of the mundane business suit doesn’t go without careful consideration. As such, her MA graduate collection is designed with a very specific woman in mind; one who at first glance might seem to embody ‘the girl next door’, but upon closer inspection reveals herself as a complex character.
When I meet Karamolegkou, it is in her studio; full of natural light, boasting an indoor garden of cacti and twisting vines sprawling around the room. “They call me ‘Green Hands’,” she confesses with a sense of pride. Throughout her studies at Central Saint Martins, this room has acted as her living and working space. Many might find such a dwelling suffocating, but this intimate space suits the designer’s self-reflective nature.
Eftychia means ‘happiness’ in Greek, and it’s fitting considering the warmth radiating from the Santorini-born designer. This isn’t to say she has gone without experiencing difficulties in her life. “I enjoy my pain cause I’m a bit dramatic,” she laughs. “I was trying to find the Eftychia Karamolegkou woman, and I realised that I had to find her through myself. I had personal things going on during that period, so I thought – I’m going to eat them, digest them, and put them in my work.” Her troubling experiences materialised as an homage to the business suit. “I wanted to do ‘haute couture’ for tomboys,” she explains. Titled Boy Girl Appeal, her MA collection celebrates craftsmanship and men’s tailoring while simultaneously critiquing the male gaze.
“I had personal things going on during that period, so I thought – I’m going to eat them, digest them, and put them in my work” – Eftychia Karamolegkou
Subsequently, Karamolegkou set out to deconstruct stereotypically ‘masculine’ qualities. Unconventionally, this led the designer to examine the personality traits of Nicolas Cage, whose presence on screen is particularly self-assured. “It’s very generic what I’m saying, but men project the fact that they are very independent. Women are more of a team. I value women a lot.” Playing with tailoring techniques is also central to her work; the designer works with creases and folds, heat-pressing garments so they appear flat and two-dimensional, opening like an accordion when worn on the body. “In a way you’re almost destroying the process,” she explains. “The whole thing about tailoring is to have these nice curves falling from the shoulder, but I put it in the heat-press to make them angular.”
An exception to her fundamentally muted colour palette, aligned with the greys and browns found in a wardrobe full of business suits, is the occasional shock of cobalt blue, injected into shirts with plunging necklines. “One thing that I try and work with is contradiction,” says Karamolegkou – take, for example, a cleavage-baring twist on men’s shirting, hinting at a woman owning her own sexuality. She is quick to add though that she doesn’t expect her clothes alone to act as tools for empowerment. “When people say they’re making clothes to empower women, it’s not the clothes that are empowering women. You need to find that empowerment in yourself first.”
“When people say they’re making clothes to empower women, it’s not the clothes that are empowering women. You need to find that empowerment in yourself first” – Eftychia Karamolegkou
So what does the future hold for Karamolegkou? One thing is for sure, the emerging designer is reluctant to engage with fashion’s penchant for hype and overexposure. “I want to be part of the game. But there are different ways of promoting yourself, and I am sure that the people who like my clothes are the people who can relate to quiet forms of exposure.” For now, her dream is to move to New York and work for a label, with a view to taking on the role of a creative director later in her career. “I find it more interesting to continue something that already has history and heritage,” she says. Ultimately, she aims to work for a brand with a similar DNA to her own: “My work is understated, but multilayered. I like things that don’t brag, but also, I don’t like things that are generic.” Just try and stop her.