I first it last summer. It was super hot and I was lying on the beach, judging the bathing suits people were wearing. And then I saw it, a small bow in the back and lots of frou frou that made your derriere look just fab. It was when I came back to the civilized world (i.e. social media and my laptop) that I figured the amazing swimsuit had a name, it was Madame Shou Shou. And so I met the brains behind the bow, Elina Kordali, who not only happens to design amazing beachwear, but also dresses and blouses and she even started designing wedding gowns, for an imatioθiki session. Here she is, in her parent’s house in Kifissia, Ms. Madame Shou Shou in person.
Did you feel the bathing suit was going to be a big hit from the beginning?
Yes, I guess I kind of did. Sometimes you just know it. But I always design according to what I would wear.
You’ve been running Madame Shou Shou for almost a year now. How did you get started?
It was exactly one year ago, when I had designed the bathing suits and some summer dresses and I had to do something to promote my work. My friend, Faidra who is doing all the P.R. for my brand, and I jumped in our car, filled up a suitcase with everything I made and hit the road. We visited Patras, Volos, Thessaloniki, Naousa, Veroia, Pelion, Chalkidiki. I would let Faidra do all the talking and show boutique owners my creations and I would say I am just an employee. We talked about the designer in third person. It was hilarious. And we got good feedback. They bought my clothes and kept asking for more.
How do you come up with the ideas for the designs?
Usually in my sleep, or before I go to bed. I will be lying there and all of a sudden, I will just open my eyes and think: this is how I should design this…. I write it down and the next day I can work on my idea.
As a Greek designer, do you support the Greek market?
Yes, definitely. All my fabrics are made and bought in Greece. I could find much cheaper fabrics from other countries, but I prefer the Greek ones. Also all my clothes are made here.
How come you haven’t opened a Madame Shou Shou store?
I would never want that. My mom owns a boutique, and I have seen how hard it can be. Especially during the holidays, you work long hours and have to constantly be there to make sure everything is going smoothly. Maybe I would sell my products online, but only in countries outside of Greece. I work well with all the stores here and selling online in Greece would ruin that.
What inspires you?
Art. I get a lot of inspiration from paintings. Especially De Gas.
You keep a rather low profile and avoid all the publicity. Why is that?
I prefer to let my creations speak for themselves, rather than go around socializing and promoting my work. That’s why I seldom attend all these events.
So, you are now designing your 3rd wedding gown. How is that any different from everything else you’ve made?
I love it. All the wedding dresses I’ve made are handmade and sur mesure . All this experience and the feedback I’ve been getting has led me to design some formal gowns for the upcoming collection. A lot of girls ask for them.
Your photo shoot for the Spring Summer 2012 Collection was shot at a pastry workshop?
Yup! We got the idea from the names of the clothes. Each is named after a dessert. It was much fun. And the girls modeling are my friends and my sister! I always use them for the campaigns. Never models. Just friends!
How has your everyday life changed since Madame Shou Shou came into your life?
I don’t have the luxury to spend as much time with friends and loved ones as I once did. But I am really grateful for everything that’s happening in my life.
What comments are you getting from men for your designs?
I think they like it. My clothes are all about the surprise factor. They may be all decent and not too revealing, but I always bet on the back. You see the girl and then she turns, and there it is: her back revealed.
So the strongest asset a girl has is her back?
For sure. Not the legs, not the décolleté. It’s the back.