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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 04 October 2014
SATURDAY 4 OCTOBER 2014 15 FASHION But in 2010, having gained an amazing workload of experience and diverse knowledge in various different fields, Tassos decided to let go of the past. In the middle of the Greek crisis, he launched his brand and started to work full time as a professional fashion photographer. Anyway, what's a conquistador if not a risk taker - he rhetorically puts today. And what Tassos wanted to create, that wasn't already on the market, was fashion for a brave man, adventurer and explorer - just like himself. Inspired by monks, surfers and military officials, Conquistador Menswear is about a sophisticated, urban attitude in handmade apparel and leather accessories. A blend of avant-garde, tradition and innovation. "I wanted to make a statement about masculinity, strength and beauty rather than discover totally new menswear garments. "I believe that men need an armour. A contemporary total look, that will empower them, make them look and feel amazing 24/7. It's a contemporary urban uniform for contemporary urban heroes. And customers really feels that sense of empowerment." The garment that actually kick-started the company's success was the elongated hooded sweatshirt, made of cotton and real Napa leather in its details, back in 2010. Now this shape has defined the urban contemporary man, with companies like KTZ, Rick Owen and HBA sharing this type of aesthetic. The oversize Conquistador hoodies became so popular that even women started to purchase them as dresses, styled with leather high boots and vintage perfecto jackets. Life on stage From July 2011, Tassos was invited to try himself as a theatre costume designer, creating original costumes for contemporary dance performances. In the majority of his stage engagements, starting from Glory with the Geneva Opera, he has collaborated with Greek choreographer of international fame, Andonis Foniadakis. With his costumes successfully translating the vision of the choreographer and the original musical score by Handel, while showcasing his true design identity within many limitations, the response was overwhelming. "Due to the nature of the freedom in movement and sheer functionality of the costumes for the dancers and stage I was really thrown into the deep end, and had not only to swim but cross to the other end alive and well, which I did. One collaboration after another and we have already worked together for numerous different productions commissioned by internationally acclaimed operas and dance companies since then." An amazing memory and thrilling experience happened to the duo only two months ago. The choreographic creation Echo, again by Foniadakis, with the legendary Martha Graham Dance Company from New York City, was touring and made a stop in Athens. "It performed at Odeon of Herodes Atticus, in the heart of the city of Athens, under the full moon, right in the roots of the Acropolis and the divine monument of the Parthenon opposite the namesake museum. It was a magical night - with a packed theatre and the applause and the cheers, the standing ovation and the audience's ecstatic response when we bowed on stage in the finale, it was really one of the most stimulating, fulfilling experiences of my life. There I was, on stage in the most important ancient Greek theatre, with another accomplished international Greek, celebrated and appreciated as I have never imagined." In his role as a costume designer, Sofroniou recently visited Australia to create costumes for Sydney Dance Company’s new production, Louder than Words. Choreographed by Rafael Bonachela and Andonis Foniadakis, the work will premiere at the Sydney Theatre on 4 October. For Tassos, stage, dance, human movement and the struggle for perfection is something that fascinates and intrigues him in contemporary dance. And the least he can do is create costumes that are complementing dancers, to flatter and emotionally charge them to get out there and create their little miracle. In his own words, they are like divine, mythical creatures of perfection. "The stage is another thing to the streets or the catwalk. The human body is so complex and unique in its expression and the vocabulary of movements in choreography is endless. I design with the reassurance that my work follows the natural body and does not restrain or create limits to that expression. At the same time, the costume is complex in its construction, beautiful on stage and makes a statement that elevates the total outcome of the production even further. "When I design for my line the predominant cause is to insert new information but also flatter and elevate the psychology of the wearer. The principal in both actions is the same but the dancer needs to feel naked on stage regardless of the statement and complexities of my work. And that's a challenge." In what was his first visit to Australia, Tassos says he was equally inspired by the city, its people and the jewel that the Sydney Dance Company is. "From the collaboration, to the production arrangements, the people working in it, I was simply ecstatic. You see, I feel that humans have lost their humanity. Especially in Europe or the States, good manners, politeness and promise-by- word gestures are a sign of weakness. I loathe that with a passion. I found Australians genuine, polite, happy and content, complete in their humanity." Today, when not on one of his international assignments, Tassos Sofroniou lives in Florence, Italy, where he teaches in one of the world's top fashion institutes, Polimoda. Sharing his knowledge and professional experience with students from around the world and seeing them flourish and blossom in their own right is amongst the most gratifying things for him. "It's incredible to be able to create dreams, trends, cultural behaviours and consumer habits only by doing what you love and you are passionate about. It is extraordinary to think that whatever I create, somehow people desire and purchase, they want to make it their own, it ‘speaks’ and expresses their own identity and ideas. Either a garment, or a theatre ticket, or the products and aesthetics included in my photographs," he says passionately. With his Conquistador Menswear inspired by surfers, amongst others, Tassos has some serious plans to make his designs available on the Australian market. "Who better to surf in Bondi with my clothes on?" he asks cheekily. "In the meantime, I need to visit one more time but this time with my sketch book in hand 24/7. Inspiration was everywhere for me and I want to take full advantage and make a complete new collection out of it!" With many talents on his palette, Tassos thinks of himself primarily as a designer. "I am a designer. Even when I photograph I design my pictures. When I was a stylist I was creating new garments out of combinations from other people's work, introducing new shapes. All my extended professional experience and diverse knowledge finds a healthy outcome when I design. "I was, and I am, very open and curious in my life. I never imagined that I would be able to describe my career and say that I have pretty much accomplished almost everything I put my mind to. I move on to new adventures only when I have completed the full circle of a previous one. And I believe that something divine somehow guided me through. My work is my life." The dance performance Louder Than Words is at Sydney Theatre from 4 to 18 October. For tickets, call Sydney Theatre Box Office on (02) 9250 1999 or visit www.sydneytheatre.org.au/ whats-on/productions/2014/louder-than-words Taking measurements. PHOTOS: PETER GREIG. Designing process for Louder Than Words.
27 September 2014
11 October 2014