Elena Troulakis is an aspiring young fashion designer, with a short, yet rich and impressive CV. Having already worked for Titans, such as YSL, Ungaro and Matthew Williamson, she has now decided to collect her valuable experiences and put them into superbly good use: her spring/summer collection, inspired by the Greek landscape and the Cycladic islands that presents simple, yet impressive garments. We had the chance to have a chat, just days before she moved to London, where she is now hoping to start this much needed, new phase of her life and career. We will not wish her the best, though. She’s gonna have it come, either way. All truly talented people do.
You’ve already had quite an impressive career so far, having studied in Europe and the U.S. where you later worked for some of the top designers worldwide. When and -most importantly- why did you decide to come back to Greece?
Having worked for ten years for several fashion houses, I felt I had gained sufficient experience and skills to start designing my own collection. The move to Greece was mostly a personal decision, I wanted to be able to dedicate my focus and energy to creating my brand and collection.
What inspired you for this year’s spring/summer collection?
This collection is largely inspired by the charm and colors of the Greek Cycladic islands. White is set against Aegean blue and against bright orange, like a summer sunrise. My prints, which I design each season and develop with the Glasgow School of Art, respond to this inspiration with an abstracted floral wisteria print in lively colors, set in soft summer silks and cottons. In contrast, earthy tones typical of the dry Cycladic landscape ground the collection and give it a nautical spin featuring navy blue and light taupe in sharp pleated tailoring and angular cuts.
Do you have a favorite fabric, a favorite color or a favorite material you like to work with?
I enjoy discovering and experimenting with new fabrics each season, but I do have a tendency to always include silk in my collections – be it chiffon, crepe de chine, stonewashed, for summer or winter. I also find metallics intriguing. Metallics are developed in different fabrics, weights, and textures and can create a variety of visual effects depending on how they are used. I like the challenge of building them into the collection.
You have collaborated with Ungaro and YSL…
I was living and studying in Paris at the time. After I finished my first Masters degree at Esmod, I started working at Emanuel Ungaro and then joined YSL. Both were incredible experiences – it was my first foray into the working world of fashion and gave me invaluable exposure and training. Words aren’t enough to describe it.
Where do you draw inspiration for your creations?
I draw inspiration from many places – nature, art, music, travels and so much more. I like to observe my surroundings and take them in. Whether it is a beautiful wild flower on a nature walk or a run down industrial building, either can trigger an idea that will later become part of a collection.
Which designer do you admire and would ideally want to work with?
Among the designers I admire, Alber Elbaz at Lanvin and Nicolas Ghesquiere at Balenciaga are both designers I would love to work with. They represent very different styles, but are both visionaries in their own right.
Which is your favorite fashion-era (i.e. ’20’s, ’80’s)?
I often look back to the work of couturier Paul Poiret from the early 1900’s. His work was largely inspired by Orientalism and the Ballets Russes, but also represented the new corset-less era of women’s dress. I wouldn’t single this out as my favourite style throughout history, but there were a lot of interesting changes in fashion at that time, which was ground breaking and set the stage for modern fashion.
Ok, this begs a cliché question. What is fashion to you then?
For me fashion is a form of expression – it is about conveying an idea or visual story in three dimensional form that appeals to and inspires a certain audience.
Too many to mention. Hm. I love traveling and discovering new places, people, and cultures. I love the work of artist Mark Rothko and sculptor Auguste Rodin. In my free time I enjoy taking walks in Filopappou Hill near the Acropolis and filling up on the incredible energy of that area in Athens.
Is there a moment in your career so far that you will never forget?
Standing on the soft grey carpeted staircase of the pristine and impressive Yves Saint Laurent showroom in Paris on my first day and feeling the intensity of an established historical luxury brand – it was an overwhelming and inspiring moment.
Any plans for the future?
Moving my business to London this spring. I look forward to being part of the dynamic London fashion scene, and to expanding the brand abroad. I would like to keep evolving creatively and personally, for my brand to grow steadily and positively, and to see more and more women wearing my clothes.