In 1949, Mr. Stavropoulos opened Nikis 13, a small custom salon in Athens, hired the best seamstresses and plied them with questions so he could learn his trade. In a few months he was deluged with customers, both Greek and foreign.
After marriage — his wife worked for the United States Embassy in Greece — he moved to New York. Unable to find a job with an established designer, he went into business for himself with two seamstresses. As soon as the collection of 25 pieces was finished, it was stolen and he had to make everything again.
Support From Customers
His first success was with private customers like Yveta Graf, Isabelle Leeds and Livia Weintraub, who boasted of wearing his dresses for years and who insisted they never went out of fashion. He made the dress Evangeline Gouletas wore when she married Hugh L. Carey, the Governor of New York at the time, as well as all of the dresses for the entire wedding party. She continues to wear the garments and has an extensive collection of photographs on Facebook.
Highly individual, he refused to copy French designs when he was working in Athens. He often said that if he did not like a customer, he would not sell to her.
Though he made daytime and cocktail clothes, he was best known for his floating evening dresses, sometimes made of layers of different-colored chiffon. He usually included rustling taffeta, printed organza and fluid crepe clothes, but his most popular dresses were always his chiffons. Most floated gently around the body and none were audaciously bare. Many styles had panels designed to flow gracefully around the body or to be draped like a scarf over the head. The dresses were planned to be worn with or without chiffon sashes. He said he made clothes for “ladies,” and his fans said they always felt comfortable in his dresses.
He died on December 10, 1990 after a long struggle with lung cancer. His clothes continue to be cherished and worn at formal events across the globe. It is interesting to note that due to the owners’ refusal to part with the garments, there are few to be found on the secondary market.
One of the garments prominently featured in the 2003 Goddess Exhibit in at The Metropolitan Museum Costume Institute was a Stavropoulos. The Kent State University Museum hosted his collection of work in a 2010 exhibit, “Stavropoulos”. The exhibit showcased Mr. Stavropoulos amazing works and designs throughout his career. During Mr. Stavropoulos’ career in New York from 1962 until 1990, he donated a number of his dresses to The Metropolitan Museum Costume Institute, and to the Kent State University Museum. After his death, his archives including 150 of his dresses were gifted to the Kent State Museum, in addition to his sketches and photographers of his collections. Additionally, the clothes can also be found at the Smithsonian Institution, The Fashion Institute, and the Benaki Museum.
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Alexandra’ Greek origin has aspired her to create iconic pieces being Ancient inspired,romantic and sculptural in form. Her work is exhibited in the Metropolitan museum shop among other museums in the world; Alexandra’s devotion to be inspired by historic references and interpret them in a modern way is her link to Peter Stavropoulos iconic work in the history of Greek fashion in our times.
For more about Alexandra and her jewelry visit http://alexandrakoumba.com
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