Eirini: When did Hallelujah first start, what did you have in mind for the brand and how did you come up with the name?
Eleutheria. Hallelujah as a brand name was founded back in 2007, while the store opened in July 2008. It initially started as a workshop project. I was looking to create new forms, a style that I would personally like, and this contained a lot of experimentation and research in the atelier. Then I found this store that I liked because of the basement, where I can work, whereas there is the retail space in the ground floor. In addition, I particularly like this neighbourhood (Pagrati area).
As for the name, the word Hallelujah is a concept by itself; it immediately takes you somewhere spiritual. I really liked the meaning, as well as the sound of the word. It is also memorable. Back then, you would rarely hear this word. After a while, I started hearing it more. Imagine that at the beginning no one could read it correctly. People would enter the store and they would read Hallo Jack, Halawa... I have heard whatever you could imagine and some of these were really funny. You can write Hallelujah also without the -H, but I like the letter –H, as it is a powerful letter. I am a huge fan of geometry. I am really interested in it. While I wasn' t particularly strong in maths or geometry back in school, I have come to love them through the design process.
As for the style, I was looking to design lines I considered as interesting at the time. I was looking for clean lines. In general, I am fond of deduction. Therefore, I was working and re-working my designs, up to the point that I would find the real essence of it; there would be nothing irreverent or unnecessary. This design process is interesting to me!
Margarita. In your store, there is this piece of furniture that looks like a temple, where you have put inside a picture out of your women's fall/winter 2012 campaign. It feels to me like women are to you like the 'Madonna'... Like women are your personal goddesses.
Eleutheria. Yes, I am interested in this idea. I love women. It is important for me to replace women's position in society, as it has been vilified by the industry of fashion. It has turned women to only a piece of meat. Honestly! In addition, I observe that this whole idea of cheap women has become imperative by the society itself. I watched a documentary film recently about Italy and I had a glimpse of their television.... It was awful. From morning to night, women were playing the role of sexy kittens. It is unreal, I just can't believe it.
Look, I always approached clothing design from a different perspective and in my opinion, clothes give a certain identity. They demonstrate your way of thinking, but I believe this particular role has been forced to women from fashion, as not everyone is capable of assessing how the situation is. Therefore, whatever works. If you pay attention to the way showbiz is collaborating with the music industry and the pop stars with fashion... This has resulted in creating a fake image, a really cheap one and of course extremely demeaning for women. I mean honestly. But I believe this is men's fantasy about women. It doesn't have to do with women, but women adopt this style and attitude out of their fear that they won't like to men. On the contrary. I mean they are so obsessed with this idea of being fatal, that they have managed to be right the opposite. I mean you see a woman leaving nothing to the imagination, but she is not erotic.
She is like a "good". Ok, this was never my kind style and when I was young I used to shop from second-hand words with my mother yelling at me about my clothes. Do I was always looking for a different style. Overall, the woman has lost her position in society and that's really bad. The humiliation which exists should definitely disappear.
Margarita. At the intro of your site, there is this expression from Andres Courreges. It says: ''Fashion does not interest me. I don't know what fashion is; what interests me is style''.
Eleutheria. Style is something that comes natural. It reflects our personality. That is why style has nothing to do with fashion. For example, you can see a 'clochard' (homeless in French) and be stylish. He is who he really is.
Margarita. He is original.....
Eleutheria. Exactly. Originality is what style is all about. Being true to whom you are. [...] It has greatly to do with your personal way of life as well. There is what we call 'pretentious' and the 'unpretentious'. This is a clear choice. I personally choose the unpretentious style. In all aspects of life. I am not interested in overemphasising something. It is already there, it exists! For example femininity. If you are feminine, it is obvious. Ok, you are a woman! You do not need to shout it. [...] It's also what it says in the end at this Courreges expression. ''Style emerges from our times''; It shows where we live, under what conditions, it is what we owe to show in our times. Fashion is something superficial.
Margarita. Do you think Greek people have style?
Eleutheria. No, I don't think so. The whole concept of mass fashion doesn't help much. Also, there is so much information out there and it is so guided that there is no space for doing much. Of course, there are always people with style that single out. Style has nothing to do with age, social status, or anything. It has to do with self- respect; I think that style and respect go together. [...]
Margarita. Do you believe it is because of this lack of respect that we do not respect individuality here in Greece?
Eleutheria. Ok, we have lost our roots. This is a trending issue that it takes lots of discussion. [...] The truth is that there is a huge problem with individuality.
Margarita. We really liked the artistic result of you lookbook for A/W 12/13, as well as the clothes. Which were your influences for the collection?
Eleutheria. I had a common concept in mind with my photographer Petros Koulis and his assistant Kiki Svolou. It was inspired by the images of director Sergei Parazanov. This is a very poetic cinematography, with lots of folklore elements inside, where costumes play an integral part in the movies. [...] He is one of our favourite cinematographers and through long discussions between us and a review of his work, we got a lot of inspiration. [..] We really like the final result and we loved working on this project. We tried to cast a face that would fit into this concept and we found it into Marianna Kapsali, a dear friend, who is a modern dancer, and has this neutral, timeless features that you cannot categorize. True to Parazanov's style.
Anna-Maria Lambert has designed the jewellery especially for the campaign; her work is folklore but minimal at the same time. I personally like a lot this combination. I mean... I enjoy finding a fabric with an 'old' feel and turn it to a new, almost futuristic design. I step to tradition but futuristic too. But not futuristic to the extreme [...].
Margarita. What gives you a hard time while creating your collections, in case we take under consideration that Greek people is looking for different lines to yours? Do you make any discounts to your style so that your clothes to be more commercial?
Eleutheria. I am trying not to. With a background in costume design I take under consideration all types of body. However, probably because of my own body I found it extremely hard to design cleavage. It doesn't come natural to me. I guess this has to do with my own body type, which is understandable if you think that the design process actually starts from you, as a designer, not by thinking what other would like. But because of my daily interaction with customers, I hear everything they say to me. Whatever they are in need of or what they imagine. I am really interested in listening to their needs because their needs are true. People who come here is in need of simple, daily, functional, quality clothing with elements of design. That is why they choose to buy from me; my clothes are not pretentious. They entail design but this is not 'out there'. It is hidden, lost inside. It is there, when a piece of clothing 'seats' perfect but you cannot understand why or how it is possible. This is to me design.
Eirini. We saw you keep also a blog since 2009. Did you open a blog for personal reasons or in order to promote your job?
Εleutheria. After creating here the space, I discovered it was really easy to open a blog and post a picture while doing my research. I did this only because of the job not for personal reasons, but since those things -work and personal life- go together I did also lots of personal posts such as family pictures from our vacations. [...] Either way, I love photography. You show to others who you are and what you like aesthetically. I don't like over-exposure. I am trying to avoid it. I believe a creator should focus and project his work and not himself. I am trying to avoid talking a lot about myself.
Margarita. How much do the social media platforms have helped you in your work?
Εleutheria. You can communicate massively your work, that's for sure. Many people already know me from facebook although I don't use it that much. However It has everything inside. It is very massive! My products are not that massive, but a lot of people from abroad have found us from facebook. Meaning that I already have clients from abroad who ask me clothes. And now, I am ready to launch my e-shop.
Eirini. Are you thinking about any collaborations?
Eleutheria. No, because I cannot do a wholesale production and I've already decided to operate Hallelujah as a retail brand because I know by experience that it cannot work along with other things. When it is for clothes, they want their own space to work. One can be a very good trader and have a really nice shop, but what I am doing here is so personal that I cannot give my clothes in any other place. I prefer instead small Hallelujah places.
Margarita. Which are your dreams from the future of fashion and your brand?
Eleutheria. Fashion is really difficult in Greece. Things are complicated so I try not to making plans. Actually things are coming on their own to me, I don't plan things. In our country today, I do not think you can make plans. You are the one who know what you want, where you're going, you have a vision. The vision is the most important. For me the vision exists. I can see in front of me what I want, I can imagine the result. The clothes, the place, all together integrated. That's it. It is not a dream. For me it is a vision and the more pure it is the better; I try to keep it as clean as I can do.
Margarita. Would you advise someone to get involved with fashion in Greece and what qualifications should have;
Eleutheria. If this is what he/she loves and wants to be involved with, then yes. You must love it a lot however. If you love it then you can overcome all obstacles. Now about the qualifications you need to have ... I think if you love your job and you can work hard because it's very demanding one, it requires an almost athletic behaviour, having a lot of discipline, and control too ... If someone wants to get involved with fashion, he/she must have very good strength, very good nerves, and be willing to devote a lot of personal time in that. Ask my daughter how many hours she has seen me these last years. But it is how it is. No one can have it all.
Margarita. Where we can find your clothes?
Eleutheria. One can find them in Pagrati in 32, Archelaou str. We have opened a second store in 16, Apollonos str., in Syntagma, and really soon you will be able to find us on line too.
Merry Christmas to all of you xxx