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Σήλια Κριθαριώτη

The Greek Haute Couture Designer shares secrets and key ingredients of her personal Cabinet of memories and inspiration

Charm bracelet. Total black, night blue and classic black and white combinations were my mother’s, Elisabeth Mitsou-Kritharioti’s wardrobe staples. I remember everyone’s beloved Bettina expertly combining dresses and finely tailored suits with chic high-heeled shoes and very carefully chosen jewellery. Her pieces were mainly made of pearls and the shiniest gold, as my mother believed that pearls were the epitome of style. Pearl necklaces, bracelets and rings were used to accentuate her usually dark ensembles.

A gold charm bracelet comes to mind and really takes me back in time. These were lovely, carefree times when everything was possible. The sound the charms would make as she climbed the stairs, seemed magical back then. It was the sound of bedtime stories and warm hugs and the charms were tiny, beautiful toys. The bracelet is a sweet keepsake of another time and a truly treasured possession. A few weeks before my catwalk show in Paris (as part of Fashion Week with Natalia Vodianova as our guest star), I felt the need to dig out the charm bracelet again. My mother’s keepsake is always with me in any seminal moment, personal or professional. This show was all about her anyway as it was called «Hommage à ma mère».

A few weeks before my catwalk show in Paris, I felt the need to dig out the charm bracelet again. My mother’s keepsake is always with me in any seminal moment, personal or professional

A handmade wooden box full of vintage Lesage embroidery is another treasured possession of mine. I go back to it whenever I need inspiration from the magical world of Haute Couture. A French writer who once visited my atelier in Plaka was pleasantly surprised when she saw me cradling this box. «I’m sure it’s full of beautiful memories», she said. She also told me that Ernest Hemingway had a similar box during his time in Paris. The Nobel laureate had bought it for his wife, who was a lover of all things fashion. Every time I open this wonderful box, I find myself transported to the elegantly iconic Parisian salons. It’s where I used to watch the uniquely Parisian in house Haute Couture shows. It’s where I first felt my heart skip a beat, when I witnessed how models glided along the catwalk swathed in these stunning, luxurious Haute Couture fabrics. Silk and velvet, precious gemstones and handwoven lace, coming together to create a whimsical work of art on the body. I fell head over heels with Haute Couture as a teenager.

I saw these couturiers carving out their own niche in this world and was so inspired. It was a difficult path to take, very competitive but oh so tempting. It was worth it in the end as my dreams did come true. High fashion is a dream world which can quickly turn into a nightmare. It involves every high and low possible: success, adoring fans, flash bulbs going off on and off the catwalk, feeling positive about all the challenges ahead but also stress, difficulties and let downs along the way. When I open my precious box however, the aroma of French Haute Couture fills my brain and I’m back in my fairy tale.

Pashmina. The magical touch of cashmere: the pashminas I created for the 5226 Store, where my pret a porter collection is sold, are some of my favourites and they’re always in my bag, whether I’m on the road or at home. The embroidered eyes, an ancient symbol of positive energy, and the emerald colour make every pashmina unique.

The embroidered eyes, an ancient symbol of positive energy, and the emerald colour make every pashmina unique

Clutch. A tiny little bag can completely transform a look. I also designed this clutch for the 5226 store and it can turn my favourite all-black look, into an outfit full of personality and cutting edge style. Small enough to hold comfortably but big enough to fit everything a girl needs.

Lipstick. We created the lip product “Craving” in collaboration with MAC, using our younger years as inspiration when our cheeks and lips were rosy red. I chose the specific colour because I wanted the lips who wore it to be kissed. You can never go wrong with a cherry like colour after all. The special packaging I created still has pride of place in my wardrobe.


Celia Kritharioti is a Greek fashion designer and the owner of the oldest Greek fashion house, established in 1906. She has collaborated with some of the most famous models including Iman, Naomi Campbell, Claudia Schiffer, Elle Macpherson and Gisele Bündchen. In 2009, Celia was selected to design the Olympic Air costumes. She has also designed the costumes for “Romeo and Juliet” and “Swan Lake” for the Greek National Opera.

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