Ones to Watch – Nina Athanasiou

May 7, 2014

Runway Show - Nina Athanasiou

This week we caught up with independent fashion designer Nina Athanasiou.  Nina showcased her FW14 collection on the runway at Nolcha Fashion Week: New York this February.  The latest collection attracts with extremes: soft floating silk is integrated with rough leather, large-meshed knit wear is combined with filigree pieces made out pearls and lace, ancient suits encounter elements from martial arts.  We got the inside scoop on what’s next for the brand!

headshotWhy did you decide to become a fashion designer? My path to fashion was not direct. While I started out studying fashion design, after my degree I dabbled in other professions, ranging from bar owner to freelance illustrator. When I started fashion school I was filled with naive dreams about art and creativity, talent and bohemian lifestyle. During my studies I had to realize that fashion does not only mean being constructive and fresh and draw nice sketches, it is not only about talent but also about name-dropping, who-knows-who and how much is your budget. So it also means that you have to achieve business management and social skills and structure and discipline. It’s not only a creative process, but also consists of marketing, business management, and accounting. That’s something I had to come to understand.

I was so fed up with the entire business that I got into something completely different: I opened my own bar, thinking that I would have never become a fashion designer. I was working in that place for quite long, until I got pregnant. My two marvellous kids changed everything for me and I realized I couldn’t work in the night life anymore. That’s when I got back to fashion and that time it really clicked with me and became my actual passion.

What’s it like being in the fashion industry? The fashion world is exciting, inspiring and vibrant. It makes you feel alive and like you’re right at the hub of the world – but on the other hand it is very harsh. It is cut throat, two faced, selfish and abrasive. You have to be or become thick-skinned and don’t take everything too seriously to get along with it.

How would you describe your brand?  I’d say it is very unique, strong, for people who are confident with themselves and like to express themselves and make a statement with what they wear. The style requires a strong personality to wear it. It is not for the timid. It is clean and strong silhouettes yet sensual and sexy, reflecting what is expected of the wearer.

What has been the biggest highlight of your career so far? I’d say one of the most impressing things was the shooting of my first fashion video this year. To breathe life into my cloths by telling a story and to be in the position to work with all those wonderful and inspiring professionals was an experience and honour I couldn’t begin to describe.

Tell us what the inspiration was behind one of your pieces.
Inspiration comes from anywhere and everywhere. It comes from movies, architecture, something my kids just drew. Every day, I get inspired through different channels and I wouldn’t be able to identify a single one.

Picking one or two in particular: in the current collection you’ll find a lot with insects and human anatomy, since my Dad was a surgeon I grew up with a lot of images and statues of human anatomy. It was one of my favorite things as a kid – sneaking into his work room and go through all his creepy books about the human body. About all the beetles and insects: no idea where this at least comes from, but I’ve always been fascinated by those creatures. Even when I was a little girl I was collecting them in our garden, crafting my own frames with butterflies, dragonflies and other insects behind glass or canning jars filled with spiritus and blindworms. So… I think you can say I’m very drawn to “nature” / birds, insects, anatomy…-things that are kind of creepy but on the other hand still unbelievably beautiful.

Describe your ideal consumer. Strong, self confident, smart and a little edgy.

What is your favourite piece and why? Definitely the black silk dress with the lacing on the back. Somehow it reminds me of a Tim Burton movie…I think it is feminine and sexy but on the other hand classy and powerful at the same time. AND the bracelets with the insects. I simply love them.

If you could have any celebrity spokesmodel, who would it be and why? Somebody like Charlotte Gainsbourgh, Roisin Murphy or Scarlett Johansson for example. Charismatic, feminine and graceful women who exude strength and confidence, without acting martial. When it comes to men… Joaquin Phoenix. I have a BIG crush on Joaquin Phoenix 😉

What store would you love to have your clothes in? Of course I’d love to see my clothes in the well-known and prestigious institutions like Barneys, Bergdorf Goodman & Co. – but for myself I prefer small and exquisite Boutiques with personality and a bold style like the “Assembly” in NY or the “Church Boutique” in Los Angeles.

What does 2014 hold for the brand? A lot! …first thing on the menu: Tokyo, we are planning to shoot our next video with the upcoming Spring/Summer collection there this year (BIG contrast to the last one we did in Venice…) Besides that we are actually collaborating with a friend and incredible artist from Berlin, Sven Ballenthin. ( ) Within his most recent series, which is called “Identity is a choice”, he’s drawing a painting of the adorable Model Elliot Sailors (she opened my show at Nolcha as a female and closing it as a male) for the label which will be used in the upcoming collection. But I don’t want to blurt everything out in advance .. 😉

The Nolcha Fashion Week Ones to Watch feature is a weekly interview highlighting an independent fashion designer that is making moves in the fashion industry. Whether from a runway show in New York City or discovered by our globetrotting team we are proud to be a platform of discovery supporting innovative independent fashion.

If you are an independent fashion designer interested to be featured in the Ones to Watch interview series please email with more information about your brand.

Nolcha Fashion Week: New York, founded by Kerry Bannigan and Arthur Mandel, is a leading award winning event held during New York Fashion Week hosting independent fashion designer runway shows.