Katerina Karoussos – milliner - one of the last in Greece maintaining the tradition of hats’ craftsmanship; passionate for elegance, femininity, theatre! As a creative designer she follows the motto: “Mode and elegance is not a privilege but a personal right” and she is always looking for woman’s unique personality and style in her creations. We were invited to her magical atelier which had an enchanting vibe and elegance to talk with Katerina Karoussos about her great experience, creative fascinations and deep insights into the tradition and future of millinery craft.
Katerina, could you tell me about your first fascination with hats?

I always had my own unique and extraordinary style. I have been wearing hats which were integral element of my image. I was getting dressed in radical and much outstanding way than other people; my own costumes were inspired by movies and other fascinations but I never followed trends. I really dislike them.

I have manual skills and usually I was sewing my own clothes; I was wearing hats and gloves made by myself. Hats and accessories were always inseparable parts of garment to complete my image. Most of the hats suit me so that I can wear many types of hats. They are such kind of accessory that can change completely the whole look. They are my great passion.
What is the story - how did you become a milliner?

When I started working as the assistant for famous Greek designer Loukia  I had the opportunity to visit many Greek hat makers but it was difficult to get to know a lot about craftsmanship. So I decided to learn how to create hats. I went to New York to study millinery craft on Fashion Institute of Technology. Thus I can say that I create hats all my life with over 30 years of working in the profession.

I am specialized in millinery but my interest about design was always extensive. I have continually expanded my passion with designing clothes , accessories, wedding and christening garment, theatrical outfits.

Personally as a designer I really like both classic chic looks and theatrical outfits because both of them are in some way timeless.

What is your opinion about fast fashion and mass production and its influence into the millinery craft?

Recently I have the impression that many clothes are overpriced and the quality of raw materials is getting gradually low because of very few fabrics, the way of work and idea itself that is worthy. The industries produce clothes under the trend tendencies just for one season.  As we know fashion always make circle and there are many returns. Now we can wear everything and still we will be in fashion. That is the paradox of fashion.

Before WW II no one could go out without the hat outside, not only women but also men. It was an indispensable element of clothing, a dress code of those times. The hats were gone for good when all the hairdos started a new era. The millinery craft was completely faded after that time. Nowadays very few people still continue the tradition of hat making. I’m probably one of the last milliners in Greece.  Mass production of hats forces out the craftsmanship which is very bad. Such situation links with lower quality.
So maybe at this point we could remind people about the traditional value of craftsmanship?

We have to know that every kind of handmade design whenever it is a garment or hat and is tailored to your personality and taste always will have more value than any trend. That is my opinion, because I am aware of the habit that is aimed for consuming and buying things without care how long it will last.
How do you perceive the future of millinery craft? 

First of all I have to say how it was in the past. I used to buy some raw materials with very good quality from many places like Paris, London and in Greece. But for now I cannot find them any longer. I have been working in the profession for over 30 years. I have observed especially in the last 10 years that the quality of raw materials is gradually getting lower year by year. I cannot predict where will lead us the future. Sometimes I feel like “the Last of the Mohicans”. Of course the hats will never disappear because of the mass production. But the tradition of millinery craft is unknown for me. I hope for young people to continue the tradition. We have to know that craft, all the hand made items will be always of great value and timeless.

Apart from hats creations you design numerous different products including theatrical costumes.

Yes, I really enjoy designing theatrical outfits because I can go wide with my ideas. To be truth, I started Drama School to be an actress. My family traditions were deeply rooted in the theatre. I grew up at home where theatre was a great part of it. I really like the concept of theatrical profession, stage performance, but I couldn’t see myself as a socialite in the theatrical circles. I am an individualist in my work and I prefer to be well - known for what I design than any other reasons. To be creative it‘s more important for me.

From your observations you don’t have the impression that artistic world is proceeding in strange direction?

I am not sure in what direction it should go but I think that there are still some people that know the real meaning of art, fashion and they have passion for what they create. And we always should have a hope for good things to come.

We can observe through the media that the level is lowering. It doesn’t happen only in Greece but everywhere. It’s becoming universal issue.

We can see how times are changing. Before the centuries there was a power of monarchy that was putting pressure on aestheticism in artistic circles. Actors, painters, musicians, composers – they all created with high level of aestheticism. Nowadays it is a mix of everything - clothing, make–up, image - and not always in good taste.
What do you think about the expression “Fashions fade style is eternal”?

I really believe in that. The style should be timeless and unique.

What should be the real style of woman?

First of all there is no style that can suit to all women. Every woman is different in both her silhouette and personality. She has to find her own style accentuating her values and cover drawbacks of the silhouette. For example the woman with body structure that has shorter legs should not wear low waist pants. They will emphasize this disadvantage and woman won’t look good in it. Women have to know that they should pick the items that will fit her taste and she will look good in it. Otherwise it is not fashion.  The bad thing about fashion is to follow the trends without thinking. The desire to copy the models is misleading while most of the women have different physique. Every woman should learn what looks good on her body and select the clothes that will suit her.

Could you tell me about your vision of woman?

My vision of woman is how I present them through my collections

("Côte d' Azur"; "Wanderings"; “Once upon a time”)

Elegant, classic, chic and feminine.

What is your attitude towards trends?

I don’t really like trendy things. I prefer clothes that you can buy or make by yourself, wear them even many years after and they will still look good on you. I prefer the clothes to be simple, apart from theatrical outfits. Simplicity can make you to be creative with accessories like hats, gloves and bags experimenting in different ways and always look fabulous.
How could you describe yourself as a designer, creator?

I always want to design a dress that will be tailored to woman’s taste and personality. I would rather create something a bit different than the samples that I have, to put small changes, to be creative with the form, shape, styles. I prefer to customize the clothing to the needs of women.

My great desire is to create the things that I’m really good in. We are not perfect, we have talents that make us creative and things that we are not strong enough. We cannot be good in everything.

How about your inspirations? What makes you really inspired to create?

I can be inspired by everything - movies, streets, shapes. Travelling is a great source of inspiration. I have seen lots of movies and I am highly inspired by but I don’t have any specific movie that is my most favourite. I like movies with special vibe, colours and images.

I always believe that the place is highly motivating for creativity. Do you have such places that you really feel creative?

I used to live and work in New York which I really like. New York is a city with great pace. But I think that country I could live easily is Italy. I really like the vibe of Italian cities and villages. They have special atmosphere, delicious food and great weather that is very fascinating for me.

Many thanks to Katerina Karoussos for her creative participation and interesting talk to EyeCandies.

Images courtesy of Katerina Karoussos

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