Interview with Maria Lemonia
I met Mary in Mykonos, where she was truly enjoying her brief stay. She had already uploaded photos on her Instagram, showing her excitement about the golden suite – with a swimming pool- in which she resided, followed by comments of adoration for the hospitality she was receiving. She was undoubtedly sweet, low-key, shy and friendly.
The colors and temperament of her face reflected a Mediterranean sweetness, and her expressions radiated the teenage enthusiasm of “wanting to conquer the whole world”, even though she was already established as an international fashion leader. We drink coffee – without sugar because we are both careful about our diets! – and I initially commented that she does not give frequent interviews.
“I am generally shy. Though, I was even shyer when I was younger” she explained. “Besides, my team and I are almost constantly on a plane travelling. 24 hours per day do not seem enough for us. Even when I am at our headquarters in London, our time schedule is suffocating”.
“When I was born, the big store did not exist. It was destroyed a few years before. But people talk to me very often about it and I have realized it is part of history. I like this and it excites me. When we started working with Adidas, I discovered that my family was the first to bring the brand to Greece”.
Apart from her own brand, which is now internationally recognized, Mary has signed collaborations with other big firms such as Swarovski, Adidas, Longchamp, Moncler, Victoria Secret, Bvlgari etc. “It is nice because through these collaborations you come in creative contact with others”.
She was unaware that Melania Trump would choose to wear one of her creations. “This was a surprise!” she said while enjoying a cold sip of coffee and added that she was informed by reading about it in British Vogue. Yet, Melania Trump was not the first US lady to wear her clothes. Michelle Obama had monopolized the flashes many a times wearing cocktail dresses by Mary Katrantzou. “She worked with an amazing stylist who believed in me and liked my work. Michelle Obama, a woman I deeply appreciate and respect, took her advice and started wearing my designs. She won me over as a personality when, along with other designers whose clothes she chose to wear, she invited us to spend a day with her at the White House, spoke to us warmly and moved us all. When the celebration was over, she suggested we spend the rest of our day in the White House in a relaxed way, saying “I want you to feel that my home, is your home!”.
“Greece takes me back to the old days, to my teenage years and to the summers I lived next to my grandmother – a true artist and an amazing cook. I love Spetses island because I’ve spent all the summers of my youth there, summers full of cycling outside Poseidon Hotel, cinema nights on the roof, parties in nightclub Figaro and flirting. Even today, when I talk to foreigners, I always suggest that they definitely visit my island”.
For many years, Mary wanted to return to Greece with a special fashion event that would promote both her work as well as the country of her origin, all over the world. The proposal from the charity association “ELPIDA”, through its President Mrs Marianna V. Vardinogiannis and the green light given by the Greek authorities for access to the Temple of Poseidon, at cape Sounion, made it possible. The event admittedly marked this year as “the most important year in her career”.
Mary Katrantzou’s show in Sounion was unique. The music of the show was composed especially for the evening by Oscar-winning composer Vangelis Papanathasiou, a hard-to-find artist, and a close friend of Mary’s. The high aesthetics of the show were not guaranteed solely by Mary Katrantzou’s creations, but through collaborators who raised the bar very high. The show is organized by Villa Eugenie, a firm behind many famous shows, such as Chanel’s. The styling baguette of the show was held by another fashion priestess, Sofia Neophytou, publisher of the British magazine “10” and artistic director of Victoria’s Secret shows.
Celebrities from all over the world arrived in Greece on the celebration of the 30th anniversary of the ELPIDA Association, which coincided with the 10th anniversary of Mary Katrantzou’s work. The Goodwill Ambassador of Unesco and President of ELPIDA Marianna V. Vardinogianni and the Greek designer, joined forces, and attracted the crème de la crème of international jet setters and the fashion world. Sabine Getty, Anielli’s granddaughter Bianca Brandolini, fashion priestess Suzy Menkes, were just some of the ladies who rushed to respond positively to the invitation. Along with them, the most influential fashion journalists from Paris, London, Milan and New York converged for the show.
“I always wanted to do something in Greece, and I am grateful because this became a reality in collaboration with ELPIDA association and in particular Mrs Marianna Vardinogianni, and in fact, for a sacred charity purpose. Returning to your homeland in such a moving way is magical. I will remember this night forever, for many reasons,” said the designer.