Monday, June 6, 2016

meet Michail Sykianakis ... the passionate designer

When discussing or writing about fashion, writers often concern themselves with fabric, silhouette, hemlines, trends, ornamentation or lack thereof, inspirations as well as many other aspects but what is overlooked most often is one simple emotion. The emotion here is passion; it is safe to say that a designer, or for that matter any créateur without passion,  is nothing more than a robot going through the motions of creating very humdrum product. So in essence, a designer without passion might as well be a file clerk!
photo by Cassandra Plavoukos click image to enlarge
As a reviewer, what gives me the greatest pleasure is a designer’s passion, especially when it comes to my specific subject area of expertise. We are not talking about designers who talk more than they design or designers who really only point yet fancy themselves créateurs or in fact those that are either lucky enough to have a bankroll behind them or happen to be a media darling of the moment. Alas, I digress, as it was my pleasure to encounter passion, charm and talent all wrapped up into one man named Michail Sykianakis.
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Michail Sykianakis may not be a household name nor is it a simple roll off your tongue name, but here is a young man who found his passion in the artistry of designing clothes for women. The name, well it’s a name you will come to know and it will glide from your tongue when asked “who designed that dress?” Sykianakis employs the skillset of a master couturier while creating collections for women to actually wear, own, not just covet to ooh and aah over and never seeing the light of the day. He is a rare breed of designer who actually has the abilities and mindset to create clothes that are at all times modern but take their cues from days when legends inhabited the magical kingdom of fashion in its purest form.
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Perhaps Alexander McQueen said it best "It’s a new era in fashion - there are no rules. It’s all about the individual and personal style … and up-and-coming designers ..."
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Michail, in my mind, has the rigor of a Grès, the esthetic of a Vionnet, the audacity and simplicity of a Sander, the passion of a Vreeland and maybe even a tad of Adrian thrown in for “paprika.” While so much of that might seem incongruous to you, it all makes perfect sense to me.

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Jeffrey Felner: Can you offer us a synopsis of how you arrived at this point today? (A mini life story so to speak)
Michail Sykianakis: I was born in Greece. My mother was a dress maker and I was always around fabrics and fittings. I went to London at 19 to study English Literature but upon my arrival I decided that fashion was what I always wanted to do and so I applied for a Foundation course at Saint Martins and got accepted. I then went on to do a BA in womenswear at Saint Martins and Graduated in 1996 in the same class as Phoebe Philo. I went on to assist a number of designers such as Matthew Williamson, Sophia Kokosalaki, Julien Mc Donald and also freelanced for Lee Mc Queen. I was offered a position as senior designer for the Max Azria runway collection based in LA which I accepted. During my time at Max Azria I introduced draping to the collection with great success while dressing a number of celebrities including Angelina Jolie who twice chose my pieces to wear for the Critics’ Choice and SAG awards.
After Azria I was offered a consultancy opportunity, which I took, since it would allow me to have more free time to prepare launching my own line. In 2015 I launched Michail Sykianakis am currently working on establishing it as an LA based brand but aiming for international acceptance and recognition.
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JF: If you could invite any 5 people to dinner, who would they be and why?
MS: First, I would invite German Chancellor Angela Merkel because I have a lot of admiration for her as strong woman leader plus I am always impressed by people who remain calm under a lot of stress.
Nest would be actress Eva Green simply because I am fascinated by her mysterious and interesting beauty and I feel she could surely be the face of my brand. For my next guest, I would invite Meryl Streep, even though I know it’s so gay of me but I simply love her work as an actress as well as who she is as a person; many of her films have really touched me. After Meryl, I would invite Albert Elbaz because I feel I have a lot of things in common with him in terms of the way we work and what we find to be beautiful and exciting. Lastly, I would invite Eckhart Tolle (author of The Power of Now) because I am a big fan of his work and believe I really would learn from his philosophy of presence.
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JF: From where and what do you draw your inspirations and motivation when it comes to your designing?
MS: The starting point for me is always the body, working directly on it. It’s always a journey which never exactly results in what I expected to create. I also like to create a world for my heroines to live in; these worlds would be mysterious with lots of secrets or unanswered questions. Ancient civilizations such as Egypt, Greece and its Mythology and Aztecs, are a fascination for me as well as with historical Japan and China and medieval times and the Monarchy.  Then there are the futuristic themes with undiscovered planets and unfamiliar lands as well as the natural world which is wonderfully inspiring for color, textures and shapes.
My inspiration draws from one theme at a time in order to create a story in my head. I don’t like the collection to look literal. I always like it to look modern in execution as woman is in the center of this world and she is always strong, confident and at times a little intimidating. The clothes I design are her armor.
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JF: If you could have any collaboration, who and what would it be and why?
MS: I would love to collaborate with milliner Phillip Treacy and create some modern head pieces for my collections. He is also all about drama and a true sculptor whose work I adore. I also would love to work with H&M on a diffusion of my line at a later stage since I would love to be able to reach a bigger broader audience.

JF: it came to me that it is in my power to ask Philip Treacy his opinion of Sykianakis’ work and this is what he had to say “it’s very American chic.” “Very child of Halston.” and finishing off with this “it’s really the future of American chic.

JF: Can you tell us if there is anyone within the world of fashion that you admire or wish you had met or want to meet and why? Don’t confine yourself to just just designers but anyone involved in the world of fashion.
 MS: I would love to meet both Paul Poiret and Madeleine Vionnet; he two very different geniuses that would make for an incredible encounter. Poiret was the earliest marketing genius in fashion with all the richness of textures and colors while Vionnet was well known for her incredible sensitivity to fluid lines and respecting and utilizing the body as almost a statue. I would consider myself the luckiest person to have met these two.

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