Uniforms designed by Delada for the Onassis Cultural Centre in Athens

BUILDING BRIDGES: Stavros Karelis, the co-owner and buying director of hot London boutique Machine-A, has teamed with the Onassis Cultural Centre in Athens to create uniforms for its front of house staff members.

Launched in 2010, the center’s mission is to promote new Greek and international figures in science, innovation and the arts. Karelis was commissioned by the deputy general manager Afroditi Panagiotakou to help source an emerging designer for the project and the buying director spoke to various designers, who submitted proposals.

“Supporting young creatives chimes with our vision and our mission while bringing minds together is part of our job,” said Panagiotakou. “As citizens of the world we believe that collaborations happen between people. At the same time, we know that openness is more a state of mind than a geographical fact. Whether the world seems too small or too big depends on our willingness to understand and communicate.”

The Onassis Cultural Centre is part of the Onassis Foundation, an international institution that engages with culture, the arts and education worldwide. It has supported 7,000 young Onassis scholars and fellows over the last 40 years, acting as a springboard for young people to fulfill their dreams.

The designer chosen was Lada Komarova of the British brand Delada, which is known for its unisex aesthetic. Karelis said the label was “the best choice, as it represents the ethos of the Onassis Cultural Centre and adds to the current story telling. In its short existence, it has already become one of the most diverse unisex brands,” said Karelis. “With a flair of modernity, there remains something very familiar and classic.”

The contemporary uniform features cotton shirts and trousers with the fabric sourced from Japan and Italy, respectively. The shirting has a split-cuff detail while the trousers have an elastic band at the waist. For women, the convertible trousers were constructed with removable parts to transition to shorts in warm weather. In addition, shoes will be supplied by Raf Simons x Adidas for men, while women will receive Margiela footwear.

To support the project, a short film has been released, directed by Cristos Sarris with creative direction by Karelis. The film, which was shot at the cultural center in Athens, features Alex Komarovich, the face of Delada, who also appears in the Burberry campaign. There is also the Greek actor Michalis Sarandis and skater Mike Vasilakis. The short movie celebrates youth culture and promotes the idea of creating an international community to exchange cultural dialog.

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Former designers who have created uniforms for Olympic Airways — part of the the cultural center — include Chanel and Pierre Cardin.

Panagiotakou said linking young creatives in London and Athens was important. “We have to do it,” said Panagiotakou. “Apathy is dangerous and the arrogant belief we can do everything by ourselves is a total illusion. Europe and the world are navigating troubled waters. All the Grexits, Brexits, crises, and the strange orbit the U.S. now finds itself in are all calls to action.”

“We all have responsibilities as citizens and we need to understand that every one of us has the power to participate in change and initiatives that bring people closer together. So let’s do something about it. Bridges are roads to dialog. They’re a way of accepting and enjoying difference, of exchanging and changing.”

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