It is five days before her Spring/Summer 2019 collection goes on sale, and Greek designer Katerina Korrou has just pulled over in her car to speak via Whatsapp. Speaking on her current situation, Korrou is totally unfazed, “it's getting mad,” she said. “Everyday a little bit of everything.”
For Korrou, a day starts at 6am when she wakes up her two sons. After getting them ready for school, Korrou heads to the gym at 8am and then, after dusting off, jumps into her car to arrive at her production house in Pireaus, the port of Athens, dealing with the chaos of this ancient metropolis along the way.
“In Athens, traffic can get you mad.”
In between appointments with fabric wholesales, textile designers and makers, Korrou has a lunch of bananas and fruits amid traffic snarls. Ending up in the centre of Athens, near the Acropolis, Korrou meets her collaborators in the beating heart of the city.
“Everything goes on over there, you have all the materials and all the little shops and everybody is there.”
While not her only source of inspiration, it is the resurging energy of Athenian society that has buoyed her label Katko, and helped to provide the beginning push to launch seven years ago.
“We had a huge crisis, we had a political referendum three years ago and of course I felt the crisis in my bones like everybody else, but right now what I see is that Greek people, women most of all, they're getting tired of the big shops — Zara, H&M — they don't want to wear the same things.”
Meeting with clients and buyers in the centre of this indefatigable city, Korrou is feeding off the energy of the place, until four or five o’clock when she returns to her home and family in the northern suburbs of Athens.
Here, the pace is slightly different, and the houses are set between the green trees and gardens. “Usually it's colder than the rest of Athens, it's two or three degrees [cooler] compared to the centre of Athens. It's a nice place to raise children.”
Korrou is not confined to the one city. Once her collection is released, for two to three weeks when the buying mostly takes place, Korrou decamps to international locations, from New York, where she used to live, to self-imposed exile in Palau or Bora Bora. Despite this, it is somewhere closer to home where Korrou finds her ultimate inspiration.
“Where-ever I've been, I find myself taking the inspiration at the end of the day from the Greek islands. I cannot get rid of the colours, the blue and the sea. That's why all my designs are always loose and very feminine and I need them to flow with the wind.”
This year’s collection is entitled Mystique. Despite following an established creative process, the outcome is one that Korrou is constantly improving.
“Not because we're talking right now, but I think [this collection] is my favourite one. It's the first time that I'm using only two fabrics, cotton and silk.”
The flowing shapes and understated designs draw on the location of Korrou’s summer house, a place she has been returning to for many years.
“It's not the most beautiful island in Greece,” noted Korrou, “But you know what they say, that's where my heart is. I'm in love with the sunset and the sunrise and this is Aegina.”
While the southern hemisphere sinks into winter, the beaches and waves of the Greek summer are just around the corner, and Korrou is as excited as ever.