Greek fashion designer & stylist Anna Maria from Santorini – My story
The story of eshop Greek Fashion Box with handmade accessories
My name is Anna Maria. I was born in Santorini, I come from Crete and I live in Athens. A well hidden for many years box in my mother's closet opened the door to memories, images and perfumes of another era and resulted in the creation of the eshop with handmade sandals and handmade accessories.
Old laces, cords and strands poured out when I opened it, filling the room with a heavy but elegant, incredibly familiar, but also very distant aroma. The intoxicating scent fascinated me, time seemed no longer to exist, and the large, scuffed photos of the beautiful elegant women hanging on the wall for years now almost piously came to life..
The great neoclassical mansion of the 1850s filled with people and life. The voices of my beloved grandmother, my father and mother, penetrated the thick, tall stone walls and came to my ears like a bird's tweet. The best holidays of my life, my finest summers, ave always been here in Santorini, in a coveted house surrounded by loved ones and lots of beautiful objects that reflected memories and stories of another era. Here I learned early on to appreciate the nice and old handmade items, but I also learned to love people, even those I did not get to know.
The house, old and large, was a source of history and fantasy. Thick walls of heavy volcanic stones separated the large, dark wooden floors of its rooms, with towering ceilings in the shape of a vault, and walls full of tall windows overlooking the whole village right to the sea.
It was decorated with traditional handmade, furniture, built and carved by the best craftsmen of the island. Heavy handmade curtains covered the windows. Velvet curtains with fringes were hanging on the sides of the windows to hide the bright light of the sun, and thin curtains ornately embroidered with old techniques left the light to bathe the walls. Fine dinner plates from China decorated glass faced cabinets, filling my children's eyes with awe with their exquisite, gold-tinted colors, coffee tables from Egypt with their heavy brass decorations adorned the whole house. All the fabrics or knitwear that decorated the furniture, embroidered by those I never met, but who, in a strange magical way, accompanied me through my childhood and teenage years.
Those that had passed away before I was born, but their presence was in every corner of the house, their perfume blowing in the air. Those who bewitched me, making me forever their beloved one, "the aunts".
Their photos, in beautiful frames, scattered all over the house, decorated the small tables and buffets, stood hanging on the walls of the house, but also in all the houses we live up to today. Always beautiful, always groomed, always elegant. Classical, women of a different era, whose life stories awed me.
Cosmopolitan women, they were, they shared their lives between Santorini and Alexandria in Egypt, where their father began commercial activity by the end of 1800's. The wine they made in Santorini, the sweet as honey "Visanto" then well known outside the country's borders, was made in the traditional wineries of Santorini and transported daily to the countries of Europe and to the depths of the East via the port of Alexandria. Each time they returned to the island they were accompanied by numerous chests filled with precious objects from the East.
Well travelled, aristocratic women, highly educated for that era, with artistic gifts that they cultivated through time. Although Christian Orthodox throughout their lives, as young girls they had entered the Catholic Monastery of the Dominican Brothers in Fira, Santorini, as was the case with the girls of "good families" and stayed there until their 22nd birthday. The Dominican sisters gave them higher education, but also great culture both social and artistic, such as piano, singing, French, painting and handicrafts.
They developed sophisticated taste and style, that shows in their clothes, jewelry, the house and their way of living. Their jewels were all made of gold, impressive in their elegance and their elaborate motifs. The fabrics that used for their clothes were luxurious and sophisticated as did their handicrafts, unique pieces of invaluable style and timeless elegance, unaltered over the years, handmade artworks that made their creators immortal over the centuries.
Fascinated by their cosmopolitan life, their stylish, sophisticated style, but also by their talents that had left their mark on the handmade works that were decorating the whole house, they appeared like creatures coming from legend and, in my usual habit, whatever belonging to them I was founding made me crafting stories with Them as protagonists and Especially the One, Anna.
Anna, who marked my childhood dreams, gave me long journeys, colors and perfumes that filled me with memories before I even managed to make my own. She was the one that I loved to love. She is always in my mind, everyday, thanks to some – small – belongings that I have kept from her handicrafts, from the paintings she had painted and now decorate my walls. She was the one that deprived me of my absolute freedom, holding me in captivity to the material and human, not for their monetary value but for the wealth she put in my life with her elegance and style, with the value she gave to everything she crafted with her own hands.
The trunks, scattered in almost every room of the house, hid for me little treasures. I dazzled the handmade laces, the clothes, the expensive fabrics, the elegant plush hats, the wipes embroidered with their monograms, the crystal bottles of heavy, almost intoxicating, oriental perfumes, the women's beauty accessories used by the aunts, such as powders and lipsticks in bright colors, in packages where the poubd- gold color be predominant. Things small, precious and loved that made me feel beautiful, like Them.
The marvelous world of their underwear, which I discovered during a summer of my teenage years in a trunk left in the office, provided me with clothes for two summers/. Everything, embroidered by hand, most with delicate cut embroidery, turned into trendy summer t-shirts and dresses. With my imagination in design and the magic hands of my beloved grandmother, flying all over the old Singer sewing machine, we did steal the show and earned the admiration of my friends and classmates.
Delicately handmade knits adorned my handbags and purses, of which I was crazy about. I was so excited about the result that I continued to design clothes throughout my teenage years and afterwards, and almost all I wore was sown by my grandmother from Santorini. We spent endless hours in the warehouses of Athens, picking up the fabrics that would implement my designs. As a young girl I liked fashion and I was very busy with it, but I never followed it faithfully. I liked my clothes to stand out, not to be a perfect copy of the pile, to have a touch of their own, unique, timeless. My passion for fashion and clothes design led me to a fashion designer school, but most of us know that many of our dreams remain just dreams, no matter how we try to become captains of our lives.
Every summer we spent some time in Santorini and some in Crete, at my father's house. The travel to the opposites as I say now. A small old house with a large, elongated inner courtyard, that closed with a heavy wooden door, was home to games with my cousins. I was worshiping this simple traditional courtyard where the table for all family meals was placed, where the outside trough with the long concrete bench where we washed our dishes was located. In Crete I learned and appreciated another wealth, the natural wealth of her fertile land. Whatever we used in our food, oil, vegetables, cheese, wine, fruit, everything was from our garden or from the garden of our neighbors or relatives.
My father, bon-viveur and good-hearted, had two passions in life, the Mediterranean Cretan cuisine and the author Nikos Kazantzakis and he followed them both throughout his life. His everyday life was around them both. Reading a few pages from a book by Kazantzakis who had usually read it before many times over but always looking for new and better releases, and cooking for the family as well as for friends. Sworn enemy of butter and all "dirty" and mutated ingredients, he always used the finest and purest, based on natural olive oil. A real artist in cooking, he taught me to love and respect the Mediterranean Cretan cuisine and the products of the earth, along to loving and reading books.
My grandmother, a true Cretan woman, a dynamic woman, sat in the cafeteria of the village every day with ease, while in other villages in Greece even today the cafes are exclusively for men. Weary by the German occupation, but tough and hardy, a widow early in life, was always wearing black, as was, and still is in some places, the custom for widows in Greece. You could not even fathom that this black dressed, delicate woman, could make treasures with her hands. And yet her hands were flying when knitting. Lace, seam and tablecloths filled my and my cousin's drawers and even today they charm everyone by their finesse. How many silent artists do exist in every family! It seems to be the way for some people to live through eternity by leaving behind something beautiful people to remember them by. Even my mother, a modern, working woman, has made small embroidered artworks, some to complete the half-finished embroidery of the aunties, some to make use of the beautiful fabrics found in the old trunks. Even today, she is pleased to make unique knitwear for us to wear.
The joy of creation is always restless, always seeking ways to escape and express itself. Even a small box can revive our forgotten dreams, and bring back old memories. I want them to help me walk into a new path in life. So this old forgotten box brought to light the idea of creating fashion with handmade products and the creation of the eshop Greek Handmade Box, which aims to dress and decorate the woman with handmade accessories of Greek designers while showing the unique beauty of the Greek landscape. Handmade products require hard work, fantasy and commitment, but they all hide a story. A unique story that makes handmade items unique, special, like our ladies accessories here, in the Greek Fashion Box. Made with love, taste and imagination, to dress women who want to stand out.
I am Anna Maria from Santorini, a next door working woman, a princess tales of my life, queen in the heart of my loved ones. I am a woman without age, a blessed daughter, a granddaughter, a mother, a grandmother, a tough fighter in life, sensitive and emotional to my loved ones. I am driven by my heart and my dreams, I am free as the wind, I wear chains only for the people I love and appreciate. I love beauty and I want to make the world a beautiful place to live. I always want to be beautiful, always positive, always in love. I'm just a Woman, I may be you and I want to share with you the beautiful handmade jewelry and accessories that will decorate you as a princess, I want to share with you my country and everything I love!
The handmade items for ladies and the creation of the eshop with handmade sandals and fashion accessories are a dream of women made real by a trully loved man and begun with a group of friends who liked the idea and believed in it.
Kallirroi, my mother's beautiful and beloved girlfriend, specialized in sewing, gave her valuable tips on handmade constructions and my favorite girlfriends, although they were not related to modeling and professional photography, supported the idea with handmade accessories and are photographed wearing them. Beautiful Greek women, true descendants of ancient Greek godesses, who with their beauty, love and authenticity embellish both our store and our concept!