Last December, Vanity Fair UK made a survey about Couture houses in Europe, and elected the Celia Kritharioti Maison as the most prominent symbol of classic Greek luxury.

Founded in 1906 and installed in famous old Dior Couturier Jean Dessès’ stylish atelier after World War Two, Celia Kritharioti is indeed the oldest fashion house in Athens, and a must for Greek high society wedding gowns and chic ceremonial wear.

Born into a family with close links to the luxury industry since several generations, young Celia Kritharioti quickly made a name for herself in the highly competitive high fashion trade as one of the very few designers to still create elegant hand-made dresses in precious fabrics, all produced in the pure Parisian Haute Couture tradition.

When meeting with Celia at her atelier in Plaka, the historical centre of Athens, by the Acropolis, she recalled her first fashion experience: “When we were little girls, my sister and I, our dresses were made at the family atelier and I was used to having the patterns altered to my taste. Little by little, I was called into fittings to help out the seamstresses and offer my suggestions. In fact, as a self-taught designer, I believe that fashion is something that gets passed on from generation to generation. In essence, as shapes more or less remain the same over time, the job is all about assimilating old technical knowledge, while being in tune with one’s time.”

Supermodels Gisele Bundchen, Naomi Campbell, Natalia Vodianova, Laeticia Casta and Karolina Kurkova, among others, have all catwalked for Celia Kritharioti, while in January 2013, Italian-American television presenter Giulian Rancic wore a unique mink gown to present the Golden Globes and British actress Gemma Arterton was spotted wearing a one-shoulder velvet striped Kritharioti dress at the 2013 BAFTA Awards in London.

Celia Kritharioti also recently designed over 150 very modern costumes for the Romeo & Juliet ballet, which took place at the Athens Concert Hall, last week.

Interestingly, the male dancers playing the Montagues and Capulets were dressed in contrasting white and black modern tailored suits with bowties and vests, while the female dancers wore gorgeous sparkling pastel ballgowns and high chignons, all resembling a glamourous 1950’s Avedon photoshoot.  No traditional tutu for Juliet, but rather nude leotards veiled with ethereal white lace and beaded ankle-length dresses. The buffoons in this original interpretation were female dancers with neon everything, including pink wigs and mismatched tutu-shorts. Shotguns, sunglasses and champagne glasses added humorous cinematic references to the show, while winking at gangster films.

Celia, just like Greek jewellers and furriers, takes pride in keeping a luxury tradition in Greece and looks forward to taking up new challenges.

 Louise Kissa

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