Greek-born, London-based fashion designer, Sophia Kokosalaki, has tragically passed away at age 47. It has been reported she lost a battle with cancer.
Kokosalaki was perhaps best known for her modern, ethereal drapery, a kind of sartorial homage to her Hellenic heritage, but the formidable designer was so much more, particularly amongst those in the industry. Vogue US Chief Fashion Critic Sarah Mower remembers seeing then misanthropic Alexander McQueen – at a time when he becoming fiercely reclusive – “shouldering his way through the mob scene outside Sophia Kokosalaki’s show on February 20, 2002,” such was the impact of Kokosalaki on fashion’s inner sanctum. For Dior Menswear designer Kim Jones, Kokosalaki’s body of work was something of enlightenment. “Watching what Sophia did was mind-blowing to me as a student,” Jones told Hamish Bowles earlier this year. “That incredible, elegant warrior-woman thing she did.”
But perhaps it was fellow Greek designer, Mary Katrantzou, of which Kokosalaki had the most profound impact; culturally, artistically and personally. “Thank you @sophiakokosalaki for making us all feel proud to be Greek,” she wrote on Instagram. “For communicating the values of our culture far beyond our borders through your incredible talent, intelligence and charisma. In the short time I had the privilege of knowing you you showed me, before I even knew myself, what real strength means and the razor sharp focus that is needed in our industry. I have always been in awe of your determination and the values you lead your life with, always in your own terms. The news today shocked me and it’s difficult to come to terms with it.. It is very very sad. Rest peacefully Sophia.. Sending my most heartfelt condolences to those who were closest to you and to your family.”
Described by Mower as “the indie Greek girl who carved out a new wave female point of view in fashion,” Sophia Kokosalaki made her debut at London Fashion Week in 1999, pioneering a new breed of feminine fashion in London. With obvious cultural influences – the classic drapery of her native Greece and Hellenic folk craft palpable in her work – the designer quickly emerged as a force in fashion, with celebrities too playing a part in Kokosalaki’s ascension.
Along with her eponymous line, the Central Saint Martins MA alum also designed costumes for the opening ceremony of the Greek Olympic Games in Athens in 2004, while also dabbling in collections for Topshop and Asos, designing Diesel’s luxury line Black Gold from 2009 to 2012 and helming the relaunch of Vionnet, the French heritage house which lay dormant for so many years.
In recent years, she turned her attention to bridal and a jewellery collection, which again bore the stamp of her heritage; the mythical motifs of Antiquity and the Grecian tradition of goldsmithing at its core. Unwavering in her determination, boundless in her talent and by all accounts, extraordinarily dignified as a human being, the modern Greek Goddess of design will truly be missed.
Sophia Kokosalaki is survived by her husband and daughter.