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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 04 October 2014
14 SATURDAY 4 OCTOBER 2014 Greek conquistador or a modern risk taker? He has excelled as a photographer and fashion stylist. Now Greek designer Tassos Sofroniou will showcase his designs in Sydney, as his costumes take to the stage in the Louder Than Words dance performance MAJA JOVIC Conquistador: an explorer and adventurer dating back to the early 16th century and the discovery of the New World. Apart from the era, Tassos Sofroniou completely fits into this definition. With an uncontrollable desire to discover and conquer various elements and talents in his life, he is never happy with anything he does. He pushes and tries for more. That's why we've known him as a designer, stylist, TV persona and photographer. He is inspired by emotions, music and the features and behavioural patterns of human beings and the animal kingdom. He is fascinated by diversity, culture and history. Obsessed and totally fixated. He is a hopeless romantic and sometimes, he reveals, he feels that he lives more in his head and dreams rather than in his physical, realistic self. Always in search of new adventures and excitement, when he decides to take off on a new path of designing menswear, what better name for his label than Conquistador? Born in Germany to Greek parents and raised in Athens, in a family that valued academic studies and professions, Tassos Sofroniou knew from early childhood he was cut from a different cloth. Stunned and inspired by an image he saw when just 11 years old, he easily decided what his professional path would be. "It was the famous black and white photo shot by Richard Avedon with the supermodel of the ‘60s Twiggy, with her floating hair like a cloud around her head and her shoulders," Tassos tells Neos Kosmos. By the time he was 14, Tassos knew all the seasonal fashion shows that were presented in the fashion weeks internationally and could recognise collections by season, year and designer, dating back at least a decade. He became obsessed with fashion photography and was able to recognise from an uncredited image the photographer behind it. "You could easily call me a teenage fashion freak. Little did I know that later in life I was to collaborate with Mr Avedon and Isabella Blow!" After finishing his academic studies and starting his fashion stylist career in Greece, Tassos relocated to London in 1995. All he wanted when he moved to the British capital was to see his icon and godmother of contemporary style, British stylist Isabella Blow, walking down the streets of London, with her couture outfits and eccentric hats. But only two months afterwards, he would become her personal assistant and trusted confidant. "At the time Isabella was putting London fashion back on the international fashion calendar by discovering and supporting the unknown at the time; British genius fashion designer Alexander McQueen, the new photographer Juergen Teller, and a blue-blooded aristocrat young punk called Stella Tennant, who to this day is one of the most successful top models. Isabella was like a pig looking for truffles, as she loved to quote. Curious, generous, eccentric and immensely talented. "For three years we had a roller coaster active and productive collaboration and through her, I made a lot of my dreams come true - meeting Richard Avedon, the collaboration with American Vogue, numerous couture fashion weeks, amazing editorials, catwalk shows, happy times and really upsetting ones too. You see, when you work with a genius of such calibre as Isabella, the world is really different. Reality is different, creativity is different, every day is different. To this day, I can't get over her suicide. How she was left to die, on her own, by taking her own life, as she was always afraid she would. "And genius is not born every day. She was not an easy person to deal with but she was genuine, generous, fun, and that compensated for her sometimes erratic behaviour," Tassos tells Neos Kosmos. After his numerous successful appointments as stylist, photographer, creative director, it was only in 2010 that designs from Tassos’ sketch book made it to the catwalk through his brand, Conquistador Menswear. "I wanted to be a fashion designer even when I saw the famous Avedon picture. It was the ‘80s, the time of designers like Alaia, Montana, Mygler, Versace, Gaultier - and the first time that fashion designers were treated and profiled like rock stars. But styling came very naturally and early. One job brought another and overall I worked as a stylist for more than 20 years." Conquistador Menswear, by Tassos Sofroniou.
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