Contemporary Minoans fascinate audience at the Museum of London

Isaac Karipidis   Tue, 12 Nov 2019; 15:38

Renowned academics, artists and designers across Europe joined the event dedicated to Kokosalaki, exploring how the first European civilisation continues to inspire creativity worldwide.


The cultural event “Contemporary Minoans: Cretan culture, source of inspiration”, organised on 5 November at the initiative of Cultural Organisation Branding Heritage (BH) with the support of the Region of Crete and the Greek National Tourism Organisation (GNTO) UK & Ireland, was addressed by GNTO President Angela Gerekou and Secretary General Dimitris Fragakis, Region of Crete Commissioner for Tourism Kyriakos Kotsoglou and journalist, BH Founder Katerina Frentzou.

Tribute to fashion designer with Cretan origin Sophia Kokosalaki, who passed away unexpectedly in October, her creative genius and exceptional personality was paid by journalist, contributing editor at Vogue UK Harriet Quick and Chief critic Voguerunway Sarah Mower MBA, British Fashion Council Ambassador for Emerging Talent, at the presence of members of the designer’s family as well as legendary British journalist and fashion critic, International Vogue Editor, Conde Nast International Suzy Menkes OBE, ardent enthusiast of Kokosalaki’s work.

The two prominent British journalists pointed out that even the most skeptical of English fashion had recognised the artist’s talent. Mower reminisced about how when she first saw her clothes, memories came to her mind of her first visit to Crete when she was a child. “Sofia had a modern Cretan identity, she knew how to unite the past with the present in a unique way“, she mentioned. Harriet Quick talked about the designer’s love for her family and the island, her immense ancient Greek drapes, but also the feeling she gave that she was always ready to embark on mission impossible while Katerina Frentzou mentioned that her unique work showcasing the Greek culture worldwide was one of the reasons that led her to create the organisation.

Internationally renowned Greek designer Mary Katrantzou spoke to Sarah Mower MBE and journalist, Fashion Features Director at Vogue Greece Elis Kiss about her passion for the Greek heritage and the way she expresses it through her creations, but also about Kokosalaki’s legacy in fashion.

Head of Picasso Administration Claude Picasso sent a message from New York about his father’s Pablo Picasso creative inspiration from the Minotaur, as well as his personal experience of Crete, “this island full of millennials old culture and history” that he visited years ago together with his mother Françoise Gilot. I hold a special memory of a trip we took with our friend, Yannis Sakellarakis, and his wife, Efi”, he said. “We went visiting the Archanes excavation site and afterwards we went to a very important and isolated site in the southeast part of the island, were I felt like being back home. I also remember the Lasithi plateau were we feasted on the most delicious meal in the whole world! The archaeological sites of astonishing beauty; the heartwarming hospitality of kind and spirited Cretans; the ubiquitous ancient culture; they are all forever kept in my memories of Crete.

Knossos Palace painter Yiannis Politis honoured the event with his presence and moved the audience when stating that he has been serving this monument of the first European civilisation “like a priest”, praying every day for the last 25 years to be worthy of this role.

Highly interesting interventions were made showcasing the everlasting influence of Minoan culture on the global contemporary creation scene by distinguished academics from Europe and beyond: Professor of Aegean Studies, Classics and Ancient History at the University of Bristol Nicoletta Momigliano, Maze designer Adrian Fisher, Lecturer of Aegean Prehistory at Venice Ca’ Foscari University Ilaria Caloi, Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Birmingham Diana Wardle, Archaeologist and Founder of Minoan Tastes Dr. Jerolyn Morisson, Ceramicist Lilah Clarke.

The multifaceted event was moderated by BH Expert and Managing Partner at Militos S.A. Olga Stavropoulou with her own unique, professional touch.

Creative Talks followed with designers who talked about the journey from cultural heritage to cultural entreprenseurship and the added value of cultural platforms: founder of Rainbowwave Maria Lemos who also curated the BH exhibition at the Museum, Greek-Austrian fashion designer Marios Schwab and archaeologist-designer Dr. Polina Ellis. The dialogue was exceptionally moderated by Elis Kiss.

The event ended with a musical performance by member of the London-based Balothizer band -Cretan Music from hell- Nikos Ziarkas. The young musician captivated the audience with his lute.

The event featured a unique exhibition of inspired artworks (garments, jewellery, paintings, mosaic), part of Branding Heritage Minoan Collection, by European artists including Alekos FassianosLilah ClarkeLoukia Orfanou and Tereza Valavani amd designers, including fashion designers Mary KatrantzouMarios Schwab, Faye Chatzi, fashion brands Ergon Mykonos and The Artians, jewel designer Polina Ellis, textile designers Alexandra Bissa and Maria Sigma Textiles, maze designer Adrian Fisher while researcher archaeologist Diana Wardle presented a reconstruction of ancient clothes. Selected creations of Sophia Kokosalaki had a special place, including the jewel (silver necklace) inspired by models of thin-bladed votive swords from Arkalochori Cave, 1700-1450 BC (exhibit of Heraklion Archaeological Museum) that she made last year especially for the BH Minoan Collection.

The event also featured a live workshop reproducing the ancient technique of weaving on the loom by Maria Sigma Textiles, a young Greek weaver who keeps the art of the loom alive in London.

The event was held in the frame of World Travel Market London 2019 under the auspices of the Hellenic Ministries of Culture, Tourism and the Embassy of Greece to the United Kingdom, with the support of Militos Consulting S.A., Social enterprise knowl for Education and Lifelong Learning, Minoan Spora, RainbowWave, Karatarakis, Avra, eltranslations, Titania Hotel, Ballas, Creative and Innovative Greece. Media sponsors: Kathimerini and Kathimerini English Edition, Hellenic TV, euGreeka

About Branding Heritage

Cultural Organisation Branding Heritage, founded by journalist Katerina Frentzou, devoted to highlighting ancient Greek culture as an everlasting inspiration of contemporary artists. BH designs multifaceted cultural events promoting cultural heritage and cultural entrepreneurship, supports the revival of ancient techniques and showcases artistic creation that pays tribute to the “global” Greek heritage across borders.
Branding Heritage also embarks on a journey to bring youth closer to their unique cultural roots. Connecting past, present and future, BH Kids revives ancient arts and techniques in collaboration with craftspeople, artisans, weavers and creators, in an effort to prompt youth to discover and experience hands-on their cultural heritage. BH Kids also aims to establish synergies with schools, colleges and universities, connecting culture with entrepreneurship and opening up new career paths for students.

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