‘Under the spell of Greek costume’

A cultural weekend at Costa Navarino showcasing tradition and fashion in the modern era



An immersive Cultural Weekend event hosted at Costa Navarino on 20-22 October 2017, in partnership with the Benaki Museum and Athens International Airport, highlighted the relevance and importance of craftwork and tradition in today’s ever-changing environment. As conveyed by fashion journalist, author and lecturer Tamsin Blanchard, ‘the common thread throughout the weekend was making things by hand, something that creates an emotional bond between us and the clothes and accessories we wear’.

Designers and artists of the exhibition joined guests for a rich program of activities, including interactive discussions, exclusive presentations, screenings and performances. The aim of the exhibition, and the weekend, was to enhance the importance of Greek tradition as a continuous source of inspiration for contemporary creations.

On behalf of the Benaki Museum, Dr. Sophia Handaka stated: ‘During the events of the Cultural Weekend, we all witnessed the power of collective effort, partnership and creativity, aiming to promote our culture. We experienced the value of participating in events whereby the artists and designers interact with the audience, wishing to share the traditions, their knowledge and experiences. Both as a principle, as well as in action, the cultural weekend activities convey the Benaki Museum’s goal to make its collections widely accessible and play an active role in safeguarding and promoting our cultural heritage’.

Chara – Helene Mitsotakis commented on behalf of Athens International Airport: ‘The core principle and goal of Athens International Airport is to promote and upgrade our country’s culture and tourism, establishing Greece as a destination where tradition is harmonically interweaved with the present, offering memorable experiences to our guests. Within this framework, the recent cultural weekend entitled ‘Under the spell of Greek costume: Contemporary creations animate the Benaki Museum collections’, underlined for the second year in a row, the successful partnership between Athens International Airport, the Benaki Museum and Costa Navarino, a collaboration that we strongly believe in and look forward to its next steps’.

Costantza Sbokou-Constantakopoulou welcomed guests on behalf of TEMES – Costa Navarino: ‘Our cooperation with the Benaki Museum and Athens International Airport for the second consecutive year, confirms the strong relationship of history and art with tourism, creating a unique experience for those who visit our country. Our common goal is to support projects that create added value for the society as a whole. In a land with such long history and rich culture as Messinia, Costa Navarino strives to revive and promote tradition in all its forms, from history to gastronomy and from crafts to cultural heritage’.

The focal point of the weekend was a guided visit of the exhibition, as well as an interactive discussion on the topic: ‘How is tradition and craft safeguarded in fashion during the modern era?’ with designer Sophia Kokosalaki, Dimitra Kolotoura from Zeus+Dione and artist Margarita Myrogianni. ‘This discussion was the wonderful culmination of a fascinating cultural weekend at Costa Navarino, in so many ways the perfect setting for this exchange of views and experiences’, noted Tamsin Blanchard who moderated the discussion.

Sοphia Kokosalaki discussed how her work aims to combine tradition with contemporary culture and modernity: ‘As a London-based Greek designer, the ancient and traditional Greek costume is always an important source of reference and inspiration, both for the present and for the future. Through my work, I’m trying to combine tradition with contemporary culture, with modernity, adding a layer that is influenced by and relates to reality. Expressions, sentiments and references from the past but always in relation to the present and steadily based on ‘today’, are expressed through the designs, rendering them original and modern’.

For Dimitra Kolotoura and Zeus+Dione, ‘Our goal has always been to combine tradition with modernity. Safeguarding and using old techniques in a modern version. We aim to make culture, tradition and our heritage, part of our daily lives. Our mission is to revive the various specialties of handicraft and enhance the local economy and societies, by using the skilled craftwork of embroiderers, macrame knitters, weavers, silk makers and passementier specialists. We embrace technical innovations which will ensure that however traditional a craft, it will remain relevant to new generations’.

The artist Margarita Myrogianni added: ‘Artists in Greece today, are experiencing a significant awareness on an international level. During a creative process, one always has the opportunity to draw from relevant experiences, while also highlighting the sense of time, craft and technique’.

Other highlights of the Cultural Weekend included exclusive screenings and presentations, such as the ‘Victoria G. Karelias’ Collection of Greek Traditional Costumes, showcasing bridal attire from different regions of Greece. The activities included a traditional Messinian embroidery workshop, a video screening about the work of Zeus+Dione, as well as the screening of ‘Interlude’ by Greek artist Blind Adam. During the Philosophy Walk guests had the opportunity to ponder upon ‘Aesthetics in Ancient Greece’ in the idyllic Messinian countryside surrounded by centuries old olive trees. Participants joined a historic art tour of Costa Navarino’s collection, including original works from the 17th-19th century and creations by contemporary Greek and international artists, whilst also enjoying the traditional activity ‘Songs around the table’ performed by a local cultural association.