Angelos Bratis: in love with classic style and sartorial taste

Angelos Bratis’s collections are known for their fluid silhouettes, fine draping and lightweight fabrics, which envelop a woman’s body with beauty. Based in London and Athens, where he was born in 1978 and where he graduated from the Veloudakis Fashion School, he also lived in Italy for some time – winning the 2011 Who’s on Next competition in Rome, and immediately catching the eye of Franca Sozzani (“Vogue”) and Suzy Menkes (“The International Herald Tribune”). The international press has followed his work since the first catwalk, while he alternates between collaborations with great fashion houses and presenting his own collections in Paris, New York, Athens and Amsterdam. He famously is a master at moulage, the technique where clothes are modeled directly by draping them on dress forms: a reference to Greek peplums and his origins. In 2014, Giorgio Armani invited Bratis to show at the Armani/Teatro; in 2015, he represented Italy at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week China in Beijing. Today he continues to create deluxe prêt-à-porter collections, selling to the most exclusive boutiques in the world. We were able to meet him for an interview, and here is what he told us...

What are you working on at the moment?
This year is my fifteenth anniversary in fashion, so I’m preparing a week of celebrations in Athens. On October 25th I will hold a special fashion show at the Niarchos Foundation to present my first signature collection of suits, which will be available exclusively on our website. 

How did you fall in love with fashion?
My mother was a seamstress, and I was always incredibly curious about the human body and the different ways fabric can be used.

How would you describe yourself to someone who does not know you and your work?
I feel like someone who sculpts fabric, or sews, but never like a fashion designer.

What is your definition of style?
Purism, boundless movement, abstraction, instinct.

Who is the muse that inspires your creations?
My dress form. A naked body I have to clothe.

Your collections are inspired by the moulage technique and the Greek peplum…
Yes, it’s my distinctive, personal signature and allows me great creative freedom. It’s a reference that has evolved over time, over collections, without ever following trends. I love moulage because it allows me to create something beautiful and interesting.

What are “Angelos Bratis women” like?
They are mothers and daughters, lovers and free, sensual and monumental.

What is the best compliment you have ever received as a couturier?
A client once told me that when she arrived at a party wearing one of my dresses she felt as if the world had stopped for a few seconds. She could feel the silk moving around her body.

What challenges did you have to overcome in the early years of your career?
The same ones I still face today, actually: budget constraints. But I won’t let them stop me.

What are the pros and cons of working in fashion?
I have worked for deluxe prêt-à-porter fashion for many years, with pieces sold to boutiques all around the world. The con of high fashion is there are not that many chic clients anymore who can afford to purchase and wear haute couture. The pro is that you can express yourself freely, without being tied down to market rules.

What matters the most to succeed in prêt-à-porter today?
I think there is a mix of different things. It’s definitely crucial to have a strong creative background and a market that is ready for your products. I think it’s also important for designers to share their work process with a team as much as possible. Today, a fashion designer simply has to be open to collaborate in different ways.

In 2015, you represented Italy at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week China in Beijing. How different was your reception there, compared to other countries?
I’ve worked a few times in China and I have come to the conclusion that fashion is an international concept and universal code, where there are no borders between countries. A beautiful dress speaks the same language to women all around the globe. 

Tell us about your creative process.
I always start from an idea, or a feeling that sometimes I’ve had on my mind for a long time. Then I work on my dress form with different fabrics, experimenting with new ways to shape them. Once I’ve decided on the silhouette, I pick the material and colors. I always test my models on different types of women, to understand what movement and flexibility each piece will have.​

What inspires you?
Art and life.

When do you think a woman is truly elegant?
A woman is elegant when she is natural, without frills. One is born elegant, not made: it’s a spontaneous mood. When a woman doesn’t know how to be elegant when naked, she cannot become elegant with clothes.

Do you think prêt-à-porter fashion has changed in the past few years?
Fashion is constantly changing: it’s in its nature. New communication systems and the online market’s evolution have certainly changed the way people observe and approach fashion. It is not by chance that fashion has become so “2D”, with eye-catching prints that pop even from a smartphone or computer screen. I am slightly nostalgic, in that: I love the feeling of touching a beautiful silk fabric, for example. I consider and study the female figure from every possible angle, in its entirety.

What was the most important lesson you have learned in these years?
You shouldn’t be scared to change life, city, country, or anything else you don’t like anymore. And you shouldn’t follow others’ systems, but create your own.

What is your professional dream?
To create things that will become classics, like Greek statues.

What must always be present in your studio when you are designing a dress?
I am always alone and in silence when I work, so all I need are my dress form, fabric and a pair of scissors.

Interview by Barbara Palladino

© Angelos Bratis


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