Words by Eleni Papaioannou
Growing up in his family’s jewelry shop gave him a flair for impeccable taste and a mind for the business of discovering stories in designs, precious stones and the people they patiently wait to adorn. His collections spark the imagination and feed our brains. At just 27, he is already a household name.
What is it like, growing up in the family business?
Being part of a family business is great! You get to work alongside people you can trust and get to learn from them every day. I in particular have been very lucky to have been shown how the business works and got taught, from an early age, that creativity, passion and hard work can lead to beautiful results. There are of course disagreements and times where a simple conversation can quickly escalate, but the beauty of it all, is that 5 minutes later it’s been forgotten and usually after a fight come the best ideas! Finally I must say that my family has been very open toward my ideas and choices. I have never felt that the business is holding me back, quite the opposite actually, they help me go further. As our ancestors would say «power in unity».
What was your first source of inspiration?
This I must say is a tough one, cause many things truly inspire me. If I had to pick one source of inspiration, I would say its people. I look around me, talk to people, listen to their stories, get to know who they truly are and I come to see how unique and special each person truly is. Just as each person is different and unique so too are the gemstones used for making jewelry, each different from the other and each must be handle with care affection.
What is the first piece you designed as a youngster?
The first piece must have been some beaded necklaces, someone could say just as my Olympus necklaces today! Back then I had gotten a great big box filled with different colored string and beads. On the night I got the gift, my cousin and I sat together and made so many necklaces, it was crazy! We didn’t want to stop. I remember how important it was that the bead colors used would match perfectly and that there was symmetry to the beading. Not much has changed since then I guess…
…and as a designer?
As a designer I made my first collection, Olympus which is based on beading patterns. I thought about it for a long time and studied various patterns and motifs before creating the jewels. I truly love going through the process of ‘research’ some would call it, I call it ‘soul searching mode’. You’ve got to dig deep and see what affects you, what moves you and then bring that out in the world, in whatever you are doing, whether its jewelry, another form of art or business. I go through that process and that’s how Olympus came to life, cause as a child I was fascinated and still am, with Greek mythology.
When did you realize you wanted to design?
Designing came naturally to me. I always stuck by mother and gave her input from times to times about how I thought something should be made. That was when I simply helped out in the store, during the summers. Then when I finished my studies and begun working full time, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on some paper and get my ideas be transformed into timeless jewelry. I love making something new, something that didn’t exist before, something different and unique.
What women have influenced you?
I have grown up at a very strong, women dominant environment. The women in my life have played a great role in how I have shaped my character. As mentioned people in general inspire me and have a great effect on me. Women in particular play a greater role, as they seem to do everything men can do, while wearing 12inch heals! The women that have influenced me the most are of course my mother who has taught me all I know and has always been next to me when I needed her. A very close aunt who is the definition of class, poise and power. My cousin, with whom I literally grew up with and is like the sister I never had. And finally I must shout out to all the teachers who have spent their time and effort to get me to learn things; they have definitely influenced me a lot.
Who do you design for?
I design for women and men alike. My collections can be worn by both sexes and can be a great gift to offer as well as a great gift for oneself. And let’s be honest I also design for myself. Through my designs I express myself to the world, I share a part of who I am with the world and that keeps me balanced and happy.
Are you into fashion? Do you follow trends?
I must say that I do love fashion. Clothes and accessories can defy ones mood. It’s true, depending on what I wear I feel and act differently. What I love the most is shoes and hats, I even do the unforgivable of wearing a suit and a hat (like a baseball cap! I know a big no no according to the standards, but the beauty of fashion is that you can decide how to express yourself, no need to follow trends, you can set them.
Do you remember a moment of high fashion, in your life?
Everyday is a moment of high fashion in my life, especially now. But also growing up attending various balls and events in Greece and abroad, I can remember the beautiful gowns and dresses that would fill the rooms. I am picturing a red gown quite vividly but I cant really space and time it, but I feel as if I can see it.
Name a poem/piece of art/ movie that has influenced your aesthetics.
Movies I must say are what influence my aesthetic the most. Seeing something again and again can really get you attached to it and can take over a part of your brain. For example, the Titanic, which I must have watched a thousand times, has influenced my aesthetics a lot. The dresses, the dinner tables, the absolute beauty of the ship has had an effect on me.
In what icons do you trust?
If we are talking about fashion icons, in terms of mens collections I love Phillip Plein and Dolge & Gabbana. For women, Oscar De La Renta I must say I would trust 100% in everything!
In artist icons, I love Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder and also Frank Sinatra. Now that I come to think of it, this list is endless.