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Fashion designer Sophia Kokosalaki dies at 47

Lauretta Roberts
14 October 2019

London-based Greek fashion designer Sophia Kokosalaki has died at the age of just 47, it has been confirmed.

Central Saint Martins graduate Sophia Kokosalaki was part of a wave of new talent to emerge from the celebrated design school at the end of the 90s and early 00s, where she was taught by the late Professor Louise Wilson.

The cause of Kokosalaki's early passing has not been confirmed but reports in Greek media suggest the designer, who is survived by her husband and daughter, had been struggling with health issues.

Born in Athens in 1972, Kokosalaki graduated from Central Saint Martins in 1999 and went on to show her collections at London Fashion Week. In 2001 she collaborated with Topshop and in 2004 she was charged with designing the uniforms for the Olympic Games in Athens.

As well as heading her own label Kokosalaki served as creative director at French fashion house Vionnet from 2006 to 2007, and also designed the Diesel Black Gold Collection.

In a tribute posted on Instagram, Sarah Mower, ambassador for emerging talent at the British Fashion Council said the loss of Kokosalaki was "registering with shock throughout London’s fashion community, and her homeland, Greece".

"As a designer and a friend, she was greatly respected and loved; a woman whose talent helped put London’s fashion reputation on the map in the 2000s, and who performed a role of national significance in Greece when she designed the opening and closing of the Athens Olympics in 2004.

"I first knew Sophia when she graduated in 1999 from Central Saint Martins MA course as one of the first cohort of students who’d been honed by the creative bootcamp that Professor Louise Wilson was only just establishing. Coming from Athens, she knew exactly who she was and what she wanted to do - a tall, blonde Greek new wave goddess in a black leather jacket who was determined to launch her fusion of feminist Greek draping and rockstar cool on the world.

"At the cusp of the millenium, Sophia was one of the first New Gen designers who I got to know. She emerged as a prophetic leader of the multicultural London energy that was to follow; an individualistic, resourceful, independent force, who was also friendly, funny and up for collaborations, the first of which came quickly to her in the form of a prestigious gig at Ruffo Research in Milan, following in the footsteps of Raf Simons and Véronique Branquinho.

"Her first shows in London were mob-scenes - Sophia had many friends and fans in college who looked up to her, and who grew up together, appreciating her self-deprecating Greek sense of humour as much as her sophisticated vision of modern womanhood. Her international reach saw her showing on the Paris schedule, headhunted for a stint at Vionnet and designing the Diesel Black Gold collection in New York.

"In recent years, Sophia refocussed her business in London on making beautifully draped wedding dresses for non-frothy sophisticates, and on a jewellery collection stamped with her modernising taste for Greek antiquity.
Sophia was 47 years old. Her family is in the thoughts of all of us who were lucky to have known her."


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