Celebrated designer Christos Dovas is your first stop for a celebration in unforgettable style. Dempsey & Carroll’s Austin Ackles sat down with him to discuss how Greek origins formed a great New York talent.
QUESTION: You’ve been involved in garment design and construction since an early age. Can you tell us about those beginnings?
CHRISTOS DOVAS: I believe I was born artistic – The fact that I grew up with a father who was a shoe designer was a coincidence of destiny. I first learned to design from picking up the leather scraps from the floor, and making small wearable pieces. As a child, I watched my father buy raw materials and deal with market professionals – This taught me about business. watching my father work at the bench itself taught me how to pull the grow and straighten the fabric. I would say I was most fortunate to see my dad working original designs from the 50’s 60’s 70’s in leather skins, fabric and laces.
QUESTION: When we think of your work, what images would you like first to pop into our heads? Light? Air? The sea? How has your Greek heritage informed you design?
CHRISTOS DOVAS: I am a dreamer. I want my designs to conjure up the imagery of books, sculpture and paintings– secret stories all through the medium of my pencils and threads. It sounds funny but I get inspired while in New York; blending my past work experience and the city’s active lifestyle results in contemporary, artful pieces. My creations are influenced by pure poetry, clarity and symbolism. I love to design, create, and ultimately make women feel beautiful.
QUESTION: What thrills you most about Greece? And what do you find most exciting about New York?
CHRISTOS DOVAS: In Greece, it is exciting to be surrounded by time. History and Art have left marks with the Ancient Greek artifacts that inspire me daily. In contrast, New York’s contemporary presence is alive with a melting pot of different cultures.
QUESTION: You’re an amazing colorist! When you use color, it feels at once bold and yet gently nuanced. Are there colors have you not been using that you are becoming more and more interested in?
CHRISTOS DOVAS: Since childhood, I have loved to draw with my pencils in black and white, along with watercolor and wax. I love gentle, smooth, soft pastels in combination with strong, dark, powerful hues. There are many different ways that color and fabric can be combined to create unique creation. The personality of someone is definitely the most important factor to consider when applying color onto fabric.
QUESTION: What’s it like to work with you and your studio? Can you tell us a little about the experience of commissioning your work?
CHRISTOS DOVAS: I am an old fashioned designer, which means that I like to show personal interest in the commission of a dress. Once we agree on the design, I begin to drape the fabric and bring to the drawings to life. Lots of hand-stitching is involved in the execution, and many fittings will happen to perfect a bespoke design.
QUESTION: Can you give us a tip? What design elements should be avoided for practicality reasons?
CHRISTOS DOVAS: My philosophy revolves around beauty and timeless elegance. I would rather stay with simplicity instead of opting for a design with lots of lines and shapes.
QUESTION: When you’re seeking inspiration and renewal, where do you head?
CHRISTOS DOVAS: I often seek inspiration through books, art history, paintings, and sculptures. I always like to head to the Metropolitan Museum of Art here in New York and I love reading biographies of artists and designers.
QUESTION: Before we go, will you please share a sweet story about one of your favorite clients?
CHRISTOS DOVAS: Every moment is a special occasion, though weddings take the cake. When designing a wedding dress, the mother is always the biggest advisor to the bride. When it comes to details, there are usually different ideas and opinions to be had, especially when choose sleeve embellishments. A bride-to-be chose one ribbon with embroidery as the finish detail, and the mother chose another ribbon with bugles and crystals. There were a lot of hard decisions to make on their end in terms of which ones to choose. The final creation was beautifully stitched with attention to detail to make both the bride and mother happy with the design!
Photography: Manuel Vasquez and Stephen Shadrach
Model: Jackie Swerz
Make Up artist: Alison Cornely,
Hair: Abby Ballin
Portrait credits: Francois Legagneur