One of the great things about visiting Paris for Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week is catching up with fashion friends and making new friends from all over the world. Last year I was invited to Maria Aristidou’s show Serendipity and after the show serendipity was at play when we met in a café. So you can imagine my surprise when Paul and I sat down for a coffee before my first show this year and who was sitting at the table next to us- Maria Aristidou. We laughed and chatted, excited to be catching up again. Maria is one of the most genuine and warm people you’ll ever meet and this is reflected in her designs. I was excited to be seeing Maria’s collection that afternoon and she hinted that it would be very different to her previous collection. Maria is also showing her designs in a Showroom event at the Intercontinental Le Grand Hotel Paris for Paris Fashion Week, so it’s the perfect time to share her story.
I have previously interviewed the lovely Maria Aristidou for our #SheInspires series. Maria comes from the Republic of Cyprus which is an island country in the Mediterranean. Many people mistakenly believe that Cyprus is a Greek island but although it is culturally Greek it is not a part of Greece. The capital city is Nicosia. Cyprus was previously under British rule until 1960, so English is widely spoken here, although the official languages are Greek and Turkish. Cyprus is renowned for its mineral wealth, great beaches, superb wines and produce and its natural beauty. We can now add designer fashion to that list! Maria explores her Cypriot heritage in her work and marries this with the world. She is the sole creator behind self titled label – ‘ Maria Aristidou’ and ‘ maRis’.
Maria’ s work is gaining recognition around the world and she has been showing at Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week since July 2016 after successful shows in luxury ‘ Ready To Wear’. Her label is inspired by her love of the finer things in life-not necessarily material goods-as well as a thoroughness for detail. I love that her designs are wearable but still have touches of elegance and luxury. A Maria Aristidou woman always looks modern and comfortable.
Maria’s love for craftsmanship and art, brings the glamour as well as a certain simplicity and she delights in developing her own unique fabrics. In 2015 the introduction of her Autumn/ Winter limited knit scarf collection was the start of a new concept in the Maria Aristidou designs. Using the magic of knitwear gives Maria the opportunity to create and explore various knit patterns with luxurious threads and techniques. Moreover, the craftsmanship of elaborate hand embroideries adds to the uniqueness of the Maria Aristidou fabrics for Couture evening and daywear. It was easy to pick Maria’s friends and family out as you walked through the hotel as they were all proudly wearing her signature scarves.
Spring / Summer Collection – Symplexis
Maria’s latest collection invites you into a world of imagination! A closed door is more often than not a mystery to us all. We are curious. When that door has an arch and a keystone, intertwining to form a coherent symplexis , it becomes a mystical and wondrous gate, behind which imagination can run wild. Maria invited us to open it, if we dared.
This collection proved to be quite a challenge for the designer.The inspiration for the pattern came from a single vintage arched door found during a walk inside the old city walls of Nicosia.The simplicity of the door’s façade, together with the complexity of the engineering behind it, gave rise to a series of design trials that led to the fine and timeless pattern for the fabrics found in the Spring/ Summer 19 Collection. Hand embroidery embellishments on the colourful pallet of luxurious knit fabrics made by the designer, capture the beauty and essence of a woman. In this collection we found unexpected cuts on classic, timeless and truly wearable designs which were the designer’s signature for Spring/ Summer 2019.
Highlights of the collection were a beautiful gold and cream dress with a deep v- neck and an interesting asymmetrical hemline. An antique gold gown with a bodice in Maria’s signature knit was a polished look with simple cap sleeves and the waist defined in black.
Double side splits were a flattering touch. Next came a lovely gown with a sheer black embroidered top with sparkling embellishment on one shoulder and lovely ¾ sleeves. The skirt was in Maria’s signature knit. The silhouette was one that would look great on any woman of any age. You could add your own touches to some of the sheer designs. Sheer was a big trend in all collections and was very chic in the knits. Some cute short playsuits were next in black.
Many in the audience were wowed by a rust or burnt orange jumpsuit with black cutaway panels and a very deep v-neck. There were easy wear maxis with interesting panels and cool flowing skirts. I loved the ruched and ruffled looks in surprising palettes of grey and lilac, as well as a happy lavender and fuchsia ruffled design just made for dancing!
Many of the black embellished dresses and gowns were so elegant. There were surprising jumpsuits in many shades of green paired with grey and silver. The jumpsuit looks were elevated with sophisticated skirt panels and trains on the trousers. Cutaways and Back details were interesting features throughout this unique collection. A beautiful cool white dress with hand embroidery was a vision and the shimmering red gown with one long sleeve was divine.
Maria Aristidou shows the world that you can design Haute Couture no matter where you live and a surprising number of ateliers are staying in their home countries, where their inspiration, family and connections are. By staying in Cyprus, Maria ensures a freshness and point of difference in her designs and she is also doing much for the economy and profile of her country. After researching this story, Cyprus, is now on my bucket list.
Maria’s designs have recently graced European magazines – L’Officiel, Woman Madame Figaro and Madame Figaro Paris as well as Elle Italia, Harper’s Bazaar- Spain and Marie Claire to name just a few.
The world is taking notice of these gorgeous designs and I can’t wait to see what is next for this inspiring designer. One of my favourite designs, Maria’s red evening dress, has already been spied on businesswoman – Vasiliki Adamidou at a function in Cyprus. Maria believes we all come in to each other’s lives for a reason and she puts this mantra into practise by adorning her models with headpieces made by friends in the industry, by ensuring the music is inspired by talented musicians that have come into her life and by surrounding herself with supportive family and friends. What a joyous and lovely collection! It will be interesting to see where our paths cross next.