I was lucky enough to meet with Georgina Skalidi for imatiothiki. Georgina is the owner of Georgina Skalidi Clutch Bags, a brand she started almost two years ago and is now becoming one of the most powerful names in the Greek fashion sphere. She was kind enough to have me in her apartment in Kolonaki shooting pictures and pulling things out of her closet and told me her story of how she became the designer behind those stunning accessories. I really admired her strength, honesty and courage, her passion for what she does and her steady course throughout these years that has led her to her dream. Oh yes, Georgina is a fighter, and a talented designer, that won’t give up, that will push herself to new limits and won’t settle with anything but the best.
Tell me what fist got you into fashion. And how Georgina Skalidi Clutch Bags started.
Well, I studied fashion design in LISAA, Paris. After that I moved back to Athens ans worked with Thanos Kyriakidis. It was really fun, we worked for all the big magazines back then, VOGUE and Marie Claire etc. Then, I started working on my own for a while. I did so many different things. From magazines, both Greek and foreign, to short films for the Biennale! But I reached a certain point, where I realised that styling was not really for me. I think you should be really talented, in order to be a stylist. Because you compose, you create with so many different styles and influences. You should be aware of everything and familiar with everything. So, this led me to fashion design. My friend, Charalampos Nikolaou and I rented this place and we sat there all day long designing clothes, or at least trying to. It was so funny, but a disaster! I knew that wasn’t for me either. So, after all this, my boyfriend noted that I have this obsession with clutch bags. And he was right! Whenever I travel, I always end up buying clutches. Always. So, this is actually how I started designing clutch bags and other accessories.
How about accessories design? Were you already familiar with that from your studies at LISAA?
No, I had to teach myself how to do that. And get some help from a professional. I asked around and people told me about a very good technician in Athens. He was the one who made all the accessories for Greek fashion designers of the ‘80s. Oh that was an adventure! At first I approached him telling him I wanted to know all about his technique and art. And he thought I was just another girl with dreams in her head, but no intention to pursue them. And he was tough! But after sitting by him and watching him, I went straight back home, and worked on my ideas for 5 hours straight. The next day I would present my designs and work to him and that made him realise that I was serious about wanting to learn. So I learned a lot from him. He is so talented! Even if his designs are from the ‘80s, they are so modern.
So from learning how to design bags, how did you reach the point where you are now?
I rented my first showroom, which was really tiny – 15 m² tiny. This showroom had a really small window on the street. So, I sat there working constantly on my designs and people started coming in, asking about the bags. One thing led to another, and all of a sudden in less than a year I had enough publicity to get me started. I opened my boutique, Georgina Skalidaki My Chambre here in Athens and on in Kolonaki. I keep pinching myself! I fell like it’s all a dream, it happened so fast, but I also worked a lot on it.
And your designs? Your collections?
Well, I wanted my collection to be a happy one. And an honest one. I go for nice colors and good combinations. I am really careful about the materials I use. Crocodile skin, or snake skins are out of the question. I stick to the good old leather. If you eat it, you can wear it, I guess.
How do you end up with your designs?
I never design anything. I just use paper, or whatever material I intend to use and I start playing with the forms. Like sculpting. What interests me the most is the shape, the outline and the volume of the clutch, not the concept.
What is your biggest influence? What inspires you?
Origami. The Japanese have mastered a great art, and there is a lot to learn from that. But also strict geometry is what inspires me and what I try to apply on my designs. I am a perfectionist, and I think a straight line is perfection. The bags I design are a reflection of my character, my personality, and my eagerness to be perfect. The main idea is the deconstruction of the bag. You think of a bag and you think of the inside pockets, the handles, the practicality of it all. These are things I put aside, and I start thinking of the bag on different levels.
What keeps you informed fashion wise?
Numéro. I am a subscriber. My boyfriend is all about the fashion blogs, so I get the info from him. My main concern is to keep up with the latest trends regarding accessories.
Which other designers do you admire?
Marni! Oh, the colors of Marni…! And the combinations! I think I have been really influenced by Marni. Also Damir Doma and Rick Owens.
Anything new coming up?
I am collaborating with Eastpak’s Artist Studio. The project aims to re-design the classic Eastpak backpack. Artist from around Europe have been selected and in a couple of months all the bags will be sold and money will go to charity. It was a real challenge for me, this redesigning the Eastpak backpack. I am all about feminine lines and smooth textures, and here I was with a bag that is the exact opposite! Again, I experimented with the origami technique, keeping my main idea simple and taking it a step further to match the needs of the project.
What are your plans for the near future?
I wish to organise this show of my bags. But I am thinking of it more artistically, maybe as a performance. I would have to find an artist to collaborate, in order to make this happen. I am aiming at the fashion side of all this.
When it comes to dressing up and clothes, what do you usually go for?
I think I change my style every 6 months. Usually, I go for things that look good on me and that reflect my mood. The past few months I am so into shoes! I am very tall, so I usually would stay away from heels or platforms, but despite my height (1,85m), I ‘ve started wearing platforms and it feels great! Generally speaking, the basic rule when dressing up is fading out downwards. You should never wear extravagant shoes. They steal all the attention from you! The bag is right in the middle. So you should try a nice combination with the bag you chose to carry. And, seriously, by no means should you match the color of your purse with the color of your shoes. Try something different for a change.
Apart from clutches, what are your fashion obsessions?
Dresses and coats. I have so many coats, but only wear two. Seriously! I have capes, coats with structured shoulders… you name it! I love them.
What is a fashion disaster according to you?
Wearing what everyone else is wearing and looking like everyone else. These days hipsters are so fashionable, but not everyone can pull off this look. I mean, you have to be aware of what looks good on you. Also glitter. And sequins.
Where do you mostly do your shopping?
I used to do it online, but lately I prefer checking out the boutiques and stores myself. Usually I do my shopping when travelling. I just came back from Paris, where I found this amazing pair of black platform shoes by COS. I was looking everywhere for them, and I am so happy I found them. But then again, I am your normal girl that does most of her shopping from Zara and H&M.
Tell me about your apartment.
I recently had it renovated. I am obsessed with the floor. I wanted it to be neutral and simple. Most of my day is spent either at my boutique, or working, so I guess I only come here to sleep. That’s why it’s so simple and empty in a way. And nothing on the walls! Nothing! Paris Koytsikos did this beautiful mural for Ma Chambre, but I realised that on my walls at home, I wand complete emptiness. I find it relaxing. But I also have some old stuff in here. This lamp for example is from Russia! My uncle is a diplomat and he has an amazing collection of ornaments furniture from around the wall, and I got this from him.