ΜΟΔΑ IS FASHION (4): On Stavropoulos

By Abigail Rodriguez, Monday, March 28, 2022

Fig. 1 Stavropoulos Collection Archives X 131, Fall Winter 1969-1970, Image courtesy of Fashion Institute of Technology | SUNY, FIT Library Unit of Special Collections and College Archives

The Special Collections and College Archives at FIT house a large collection of archival materials including photo albums, sketchbooks and ephemera once owned by George Stavropoulos (1920-1990). A prolific fashion designer with an atelier in Manhattan — Stavropoulos Corp. was on 16 West 57th Street, he dressed many famous clients in the second half of the twentieth century. Among those were Maria Callas, Sophia Loren, Emily-Angelica Papoulias, the wife of the Greek Ambassador to the United States, and New York Governor first lady Evangeline Gouletas, and Lady Bird Johnson. His gowns are held at the Metropolitan Museum in New York and the Smithsonian Institution, at Kent State University in Ohio, at the Benaki Museum in Athens, and elsewhere.

Stravropoulos’ journey into the fashion world began in Greece. Born in Tripoli on the Peloponnese he opened a boutique in Athens in 1949. According to Kasey Bland’s insightful biography, “throughout the 1950s Stavropoulos … […] … began creating designs inspired by classical Greek figures.” Not only were his fashion designs inspired by his heritage, but so did his growing network of business contractors and clients continue to engage with ancient Mediterranean heritage. At some point, he was even honored for his work by the Greek embassy in Washington, D.C.

The unknown model in this photograph, posing in a dress from the Stavropoulos 1969-1970 collection, stands in front of a large photograph of an ancient Mediterranean red-figured Greek calyx krater. Objects like these are on display in museums around the world such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in the British Museum in London and in the Louvre in Paris. Interestingly enough, one of the more iconic portraits of himself preserved today features an ancient Greek vase in the background. Promoting the same Fall Winter 1969-1970 collection, Stavropoulos’ models were also featured on the Acropolis in Athens and in the streets of the city by the Piraeus.

Fig 2 Model in Athens, Greece, in 1970, Stavropoulos Collection Archives X 131 Image courtesy of Fashion Institute of Technology | SUNY, FIT Library Unit of Special Collections and College Archives.

Kasey Bland’s 2008 biography of the designer introduced a wealth of materials from the rich Kent State University Stavropoulos archives, many of his clients and incorporated personal interviews with his son Peter into a coherent narrative. His clients favored his soft drapery style. The black evening dress in our photograph incorporates a see-through mesh material gliding smoothly, surrounding the model’s arms draping with ease. His style made the women wear them look soft, and he believed women should be able to move around in high-end dresses with grace.

Fig 3 From an advertise of a Fashion show in a Florida newspaper, Clip in the Stavropoulos Collection Archives. Image courtesy of Fashion Institute of Technology | SUNY, FIT Library Unit of Special Collections and College Archives

The photograph on display in ΜΟΔΑ IS FASHION and other fashion photo shoots of Stavropoulos’ collections preserved in SPARC emphasize the continued importance of Greece as a feature in the Stavropoulos brand and marketing. A photograph preserved in the Kent State University archives shows a band of Greek musicians at the Stavropoulos 1984 spring runway show. Stavropoulos benefited from his Greek heritage as it gave him inspiration. I myself am inspired by my own heritage and hope to become an advocate for my own culture one day.

Further Reading:

Bland, Kasey. The Life and Career of Fashion Designer George Stavropoulos (Thesis, University of Akron, 2008).

Bender, Marylin. “Stavropoulos: A Greek Name to Drop,” The New York Times, 10 July 1965.

Schierup, Stine and Victoria Sabetai eds. The Regional Production of Red-Figure Pottery: Greece, Magna Graecia and Etruria (Aarhus: Aarhus University Press 2014).

A collection of 150 dresses donated to Kent State University in Ohio and more material can be found here.

About the Author:

Abigail Rodriguez is a senior in the AHMP program. Fascinated by the art history of Mexico, she would like to work in an educational capacity in an art institution in the near future.

Current Favorite Reading or Art Exhibition: Japan: A History of Style, Metropolitan Museum of Art (March 8 – April 24, 2022).

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