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30 years MF - 30 years of Greek creation | Elina Kakourou, of Kakuru Jewelry, often traveled with an issue of Madame Figaro in her luggage.

30 years MF - 30 years of Greek creation | Elina Kakourou, of Kakuru Jewelry, often traveled with an issue of Madame Figaro in her luggage.

by Philippa Dimitriadi

 

Sporos Collection, photo by Yiorgos Kaplanidis

 

On the occasion of celebrating 30 years of Madame Figaro, we explore the last 30 years of Greek fashion through the work and words of both emerging and established Greek designers.

 

Kakuru Jewelry, led by designer and silversmith Elina Kakourou, is an outstanding example of contemporary Greek creation. It symbolizes the changes that have occurred in the field during Madame Figaro's 30 years of existence. Elina has gathered a community of people around her creations, a "tribe" that communicates without speaking but wears a Kakuru piece as its emblem.

 

Sporos Collection, photo by Yiorgos Kaplanidis

 

Will it be a Stala ring or a necklace from the latest Sporos collection that uniquely combines gold and silver? Will it be an ear cuff, the best seller from the Istos series, or a ladybug bracelet, this year's "martaki" from the brand that sold out and, by replacing its thread, transforms into a timeless piece? Whatever the Kakuru item, it always comes with a tender wink.

 

The Importance of Love

This wouldn't happen if Elina didn't pour her entire being into her brand. Born and raised in Sparta, she got in the Economics Department at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki but left for equivalent studies in London, where she also completed a master's degree in business administration and economics, focusing on new entrepreneurship. Her love for jewelry was always there, but the need for creation was ignited when she saw that almost all her school projects began to relate to jewelry from a business perspective. She started timidly taking jewelry design seminars and attending as many classes as she could, either at Saint Martins or in Hatton Garden, the quintessential silversmithing neighborhood in England. She returned to Greece, started working in a workshop, and in 2018, feeling ready, she launched the Kakuru brand, with her workshop-store, an ornament in itself, like her designs, in the picturesque alley of Petraki Street.

 

Elina Kakourou, photo by Panos Georgiou

 

Elina shares every aspect of herself, taking us behind the scenes of each unique creation, such as the bridal pieces, through the brand's social media. She tells touching stories from people who visit her store, demonstrating the importance of the human factor in fashion. The wonderful Greek jewelry scene that has emerged since the crisis years, including the Kakuru brand, proves that no creation will move you the same way if you don't know the love behind its making.

 

How do you comment on the evolution of Greek fashion over the last 30 years?

I am 37 years old and have been closely following fashion developments for the last 20 years or so because, growing up in the provinces, I used to browse teen magazines. Of course, the primary contact with fashion was through television. I used to see fashion designers mainly for clothes because I don't remember television showcasing jewelry designers as much. Much later, I learned about Minas, Lalaounis, Zolotas, and several other jewelry designers who thrived during my teenage years. I think, like all sectors in Greece, fashion had its ups and downs, especially when the economic crisis started in our country.

The '90s, I believe, were a time of prosperity for designers with many collections and experiments. We entered the 2000s, and until 2004, everything seemed quite hopeful, and then gradually, fashion also began to "decline." The older established values in the field, whether from designer names or trends, started to seem less relevant, and I imagine everyone began to think that they needed to adapt to new realities. I feel that those who embraced this logic, remained true to their brand values, and found ways to navigate the demanding years that followed, continue to thrive in the field today.

Today, I observe, especially in the last 10 years, that there are many talents and fresh creators in clothing, jewelry, footwear, and accessories. I think the vast amount of information through the internet has helped us creators to come into contact with many stimuli, both domestic and international, which helps us present very nice work and evolve Greek fashion in our unique ways. For this to continue with consistency and longevity, we all need to blend and highlight each stimulus along with our personal identity and the values that underpin our brand.

It's very easy to get carried away and recycle trends from abroad, which will not help our brand or, by extension, Greek fashion. Creators need to support each other, and we need support from the state, for example, the Ministry of Culture, if we aim to develop domestic fashion to present fresh ideas and creative projects that have something to say to us.

 

Sporos Collection, photo by Yiorgos Kaplanidis

 

Sporos Collection, photo by Yiorgos Kaplanidis

 

Do you remember the first time you held a Madame Figaro issue in your hands?

As I mentioned earlier, as a child from the provinces, I saw all the magazines as a fantastic world of glamour and colors. Surely, the first time I held a Madame Figaro issue would have been at a young age because my parents always brought and read newspapers and magazines at home, but I don't remember the exact moment.

Later, at the age of 17, I left for studies in England and bought magazines at the airport to read during the flight, so I will say that was the first time I came into contact with Madame Figaro. I've traveled with your magazines. Many times, I would note something I liked with a marker, read it, or tear out a page that I found the photo or the topic more interesting.

 

Sporos Collection, photo by Yiorgos Kaplanidis

 

Sustainability vs. fast trends. Artificial intelligence vs. human creativity and expression. Ultimately, is the future of the industry optimistic or pessimistic?

Definitely sustainability! At the Kakuru brand, we don't follow any trend, not because I snub them, but I didn't want to create a brand that follows trends. This constant changing of my wardrobe, accessories, or jewelry, to speak of my field, according to the trend somehow shows me that the work (research/design/manufacturing) that a person may have put in to create something "different," perhaps more timeless, is not appreciated enough, and the proper attention is not given to the fact that the creator tries to showcase their truth through this work.

Clearly, human creativity and expression! I don't know how you live without it. For me, it's my breath, the way to keep going when I realize the world we live in isn't the most beautiful, the way to connect, a way of self-analysis for my inner self. I don't want to dismiss everything new that comes; surely, there are good elements in artificial intelligence that we will use, but I think the emotion, which is the most important for humans, cannot be associated with artificial intelligence.

Because I believe that through the fashion industry, messages can be expressed beautifully, through art and creativity, there can be pressure on even socio-political issues. I want to believe that for such important purposes of expression alone, we will keep it alive.

 

Sporos Collection, photo by Yiorgos Kaplanidis

 

What expectations did you have when you started your brand?

The truth is that I was much more optimistic than I am now, six and a half years after opening our store and workshop. We have gone through almost two years of quarantine, many more difficulties within that time until the brand could find its footing. Every day is a new struggle, possibly facing new challenges, and it is quite difficult now to have long-term plans.

Nevertheless, I don't think my expectations have changed. I wanted to share part of my personality and truth through jewelry with those who love it. I wanted the jewelry to be worn and for those who wear it to create their own stories. I wanted to find people who share the same passion. I wanted the brand to be known even more through word of mouth, and fortunately, many of these expectations are being met, but I never rest!

 

Sporos Collection, photo by Yiorgos Kaplanidis

 

Sporos Collection, photo by Yiorgos Kaplanidis

 

How many times did you have to reconsider your creative decisions until the aesthetic identity of your brand was formed?

Every day, I may "question" my creative decisions and reshape them to be closer to the brand's identity. Even when I proceed with a collection design, I think about whether my identity is clearly in the new collection, but also if something different from the previous one is depicted. It is extremely important for me to remain true to the brand's identity, values, and philosophy. This doesn't mean that I don't try to adapt to the many and sudden changes that have happened for all brands in recent years. However, I will never adopt something that is outside of us and our identity, firstly because I believe it will be apparent that it doesn't fit us, but at the same time, it will offer us nothing. It will damage the brand rather than make it more "current."

 

Sporos Collection, photo by Yiorgos Kaplanidis

 

What do you wish for us now that we blow out 30 candles on the cake?

I wish you continue to stay in the forefront for many more years because this stability is very important and shows us younger ones that despite all the difficulties and changes, something that has a lot of hard work behind it and is worth it will find a way to survive. I wish you continue to do what you love, promote fashion, highlight new creative individuals, and inspire more people who want to engage in the fashion industry! Thank you for all these years of presence! It's very important that in such a fast-paced and now digital world, you continue to maintain your print edition!

 

Kakuru Jewelry, kakuru.gr, Petraki 24, Syntagma, tel. +30 210 3315424

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