The designer does diffusion with a difference, elevating craft and partnering with ASOS
Sophia Kokosalaki established her eponymous womenswear collection in London, 1999. But the Greek designer has waited until now to launch a second line. Partnering with ASOS to create Kore, Kokosalaki has showed there's benefit in taking the time to do things properly, offering an 18-look collection that's friendlier on the pocket but still maintains the lineage of craft that runs through her work, thanks to a collaboration with a community cooperative workshop in Sri Lanka, handcrafting lace. Dazed Digital caught up with the designer who's equally known for her love of black and Bauhaus (the band).
When I came across these women in Sri Lanka pinning miniscule pieces of lace on small pillows working the pattern thread-by-thread, I was transfixed but never believed it was possible to turn this into an actual product I could see worn on the streets of London one day. But it happened!
Dazed Digital: Kore is 'maiden' or 'daughter' in ancient Greek. Do you have any favourite myths or legends from Greek mythology?
Sophia Kokosalaki: I do like the Theseus and the Minotaur myth, including Ariadne's intervention, I think mostly because it is related to the Minoans and the island of Crete where I am from. I always try to find the labyrinth when I am there... And I always end up in a taverna instead.
DD: Is Kore an ongoing project with ASOS?
Sophia Kokosalaki: Kore is supported by ASOS Inc in the manufacturing and production aspect and this is why it is so accessible. However, it will be open to all retailers for the Autumn/Winter 12 collection. We are currently working on our third season, resort S/S 2013.
DD: It's great how you can do something accessible and still preserve the skills of handcraft, which has always been a strong part of your work...
Sophia Kokosalaki: Making special, handcrafted things is part of my identity as a designer, it has always been this way. I always appreciated tradition and crafts, surely again because of my heritage and I always appreciated unique things. Since a young 'fashion' age I had an aversion for mass-produced, badly-made, anonymous items. I always wanted to make an accessible line but was concerned from the way it is usually done, from what I saw being offered around. When I came across these women in Sri Lanka pinning miniscule pieces of lace on small pillows working the pattern thread-by-thread, I was transfixed but never believed it was possible to turn this into an actual product I could see worn on the streets of London one day. But it happened!
DD: You're known for your love of black. Do you think the way you handle colour is different because of this? Even pale tones have that strength or intonation of black in your design language...
Sophia Kokosalaki: That's an interesting comment. I just instinctively try to avoid corny colours without being averse to colours at all. A way to do this is to carefully select the right hues, this makes all the difference. I try to apply colours that are modern and flattering for a woman to wear, black has always a place there because for me it is incredible: flattering and sexy.
DD: What are you listening to at the moment in your studio?
Sophia Kokosalaki: We're playing Django Django. But a minute ago it was 'Tunic' by Sonic Youth...