Sexy Designer is a Cool Chick
By Linda Marx
From the moment she was old enough to walk and admire clothes, award winning designer Elena Antoniades loved the whole process that went into fashionable dressing. The Cyprus native loved fabric, fashion, color and style. The combination energized her.
Since her mother had most of their clothes made professionally by a seamstress, Antoniades enjoyed a childhood of dress-up and delight.
“I played with clothes and loved them, especially color and fabric,” says Antoniades, 40, who divides her time between London and Miami. “I liked painting, flowers and experimenting with colorways like red, orange, turquoise, blue, yellow and emerald green.”
Today, that creative background has given her a design trademark of bold colors and fabrics sweeping with dramatic lines and exotic tensions. She uses silk chiffon and satin print fabrics which she designs herself.
From luxe evening gowns, haute couture, and resort wear to tough glam leather and siren sexy red sequin A-line mini dresses, Antoniades knows how to dazzle and turn heads.
Don’t call this designer for a safe and sensible look! She glitters and sparkles like a constellation. Her French lace is often finished with thousands of glittery crystals, like Cinderella’s shimmering castle at Disney World.
Antoniades’ line includes lamb’s leather, cashmere, fur, rich embroidered velvets, silk stretch organza, taffeta and jerseys that drape the female form in a super feminine way.
“I like for women to be able to show off who they are,” she says of her form fitting designs. “I am passionate about my fabrics and travel around the world to find just what I want.”
Her spring collection is filled with whites so women can strut their tanned bodies to cocktail parties and clubs. She has one shoulder gowns, goddess looks and animal prints in blues, yellows, beiges and other calming colors.
From beach to the boardroom then to a social ball, this sexy collection is made for women with zing and confidence.
No wonder her international clientele includes celebrities, movie stars, rockers and royals. Her designs are sold in Harvey Nichols, Harrods and in St. Tropez and Los Angeles boutiques. She also has a modern two-story shop in Cyprus where she dresses Greek and Middle Eastern celebrities, including beautiful Queen Rania of Jordan.
Now she has targeted Miami after living in Bal Harbour off and on for six months with her husband, who is in the hotel and properties business.
In fact, Antoniades recently hosted a champagne fashion show at ONE Bal Harbour Resort & Spa in Bal Harbour where the couple keep a home. Her show presented guests a live look at her fine art of draping with silk, chiffon, intricate lace and velvet.
Dramatic, feminine and luxurious, the designs in the show symbolized what she offers as an international designer who was twice nominated as Fashion Designer of the Year by Madame Figaro Women of the Year Awards. She won first place in 2009-2010.
“They picked me because the team of judges loved my contributions,” she says. “I don’t sew crystal on laces, I glue them on. Every metre has three and a half thousand crystals of Swarovski. The finished product is beautiful.”
While her fashions are now offered online, she is currently shopping around Miami for a stand-alone store. She hopes to have it up and running by the end of this year, or in early 2012.
“Neiman Marcus is also looking at my collection but I am new to the U.S. and exploring many opportunities,” she says. “I know for sure I want my own store here where everything is available to the customer in one place.”
Antoniades did her homework, apprenticed and worked her way into a place on the international fashion map. In London, she did a stint at Brown’s, then later took over a boutique near Brown’s at Mayfair. It was a high-end pret-a-porter (ready-to-wear) store owned by a large company which had multiple outlets in different locales.
She designed slowly, doing furs, shawls, jackets and coats, just learning the business and continuing to grow and expand.
In 2005, she showed some things to Harrod’s and the decision-makers liked them. “They actually started off by commenting on what I was wearing,” she laughs. “The buyers really liked it so that piqued their curiosity to see more. And they quickly bought my line.”
So the designer was off and running. The next year, Harvey Nichols in Dubai bought some gowns, and by the end of 2009, the new Bloomingdale’s at the Dubai Mall, which opened early last year, became a client.
She also sells to boutiques around the world and her designs appear at Fashion Week shows in London, Las Vegas and Greece. Her resort wear —kaftans, beachwear, swim suits, and more — can be found at high profile boutiques in Cannes, Monaco, The Greek isles, and in Middle Eastern hot spots.
“They sell off the wall in the Middle East,” she says.
Miami is a natural market for her and she will do well with the cosmopolitan mix of denizens who like to prance around town wearing sexy sheaths purchased exclusively at high prices.
The designer knows she is lucky to live between London and Miami and gets greatly inspired by the blues of the ocean and Biscayne Bay here especially after waking up day after day to cloudy English skies as chronicled beautifully in Henry James travel essays.
“We love Miami weather,” says Antoniades. “It is a city where people can wear my clothes on the beach or in the city. My designs are an investment. I believe in that.”
Her inspirational designers range from the bold Coco Chanel and iconic Karl Lagerfeld to versatile Michael Kors and brilliant Oscar de la Renta.
“I am new to this side of the world but I feel like I am 24 years old again, and I love it,” she says. “I am really excited about designing for the Miami woman.”