This year marks the 200-year anniversary of the Greek War of Independence which led to the establishment of the Modern Greek state. Celebrated on March 25th as a National holiday, the Greek Revolution, as it’s commonly known, constitutes an integral part of the Greek national identity and historical memory, and forms a pivotal chapter in both the country’s and Europe’s history.
Starting in 1821 with sporadic revolts against the ruling Ottoman Empire in the Peloponnese, the skirmishes soon escalated into a full-blown, nation-wide independence struggle inspired by the ideology of the Enlightenment and the principles of Romanticism. After drawing in the Great Powers - Great Britain, France, and Russia, whose intervention was decisive in the conflict’s outcome - the drawn-out war finally came to an end in 1832 with Greece being recognized as an independent nation. As Europe’s first successful revolution in the 19th century, it instigated a continent-wide drive for national independence and foreshadowed the nationalist uprisings that ultimately shaped modern-day Europe.
As expected, the bicentennial is going to be celebrated with a rich program of exhibitions, events and actions but there’s also going to be a barrage of commemorative souvenirs, memorabilia and special editions from corporate, commercial and cultural entities and creatives of all disciplines. Luckily for our readers, we have sorted through these offerings to compile a shortlist with the items that caught our eye – call it our “patriotic” duty. From porcelain and ceramic artefacts, to silk scarves, pleated skirts and canvas sneakers, we have hand-picked a selection of fashion and design pieces that celebrate the momentous occasion with inventiveness, sophistication and craftsmanship. More than a reminder of the Revolution’s enduring cultural impact, which began with the 19th-century poems of Lord Byron and the monumental canvases of French Romantic painter Eugène Delacroix, these commemorative products embody the creativity and momentum of contemporary Greek artists and designers, ushering in the third century of the country’s modern history with optimism and confidence.
Limited-edition Eleftheria scarf by Elias Kafouros for Hermès
Fabled luxury house Hermès has collaborated with Greek artist Elias Kafouros for a limited-edition silk twill scarf to celebrate the 200-year anniversary of Greek revolution. Kafouros has set the letters of the Greek work for liberty, “ΕΛΕΥΘΕΡΙΑ”, amid hand-drawn landscapes inspired by Greece, from the rural Peloponnese, to the mountainous mainland and the iconic Aegean Islands. Rich in details and intertwined motifs, as is the artist’s signature style, the scarf teems with houses, bell towers, ancient colonnades, bridges and garden terraces, nestled in lush surroundings or perched on mountainsides in a panorama of Greek culture and history throughout the centuries. In the scarf’s centre, the letter ‘Θ’ is superimposed on a lake to take the form of a blue eye, a folk symbol used as a charm to ward off bad luck, which, in the context of Kafouros’ design, is firmly focused on the future. Available at the Hermès Athens store from 26th March 2021. Faithful to Hermès’ engagements and values of solidarity and social welfare, the house will donate part of the proceeds for each limited-edition scarf sold to Sotiria Thoracic Diseases Hospital of Athens.
Limited Edition Sneaker Superga x Konstantin Kakanias at Kalogirou
Italian shoemaker Superga collaborated under the auspices of the historic Kalogirou brand with Greek multidisciplinary artist Konstantin Kakanias for a limited edition canvas trainer featuring the artist’s subversive alter ego, Mrs Tependris - a couture-wearing, jet-setting, art-collecting Greek socialite who has been intermittently making flamboyant appearances in his work ever since her debut in 1992. For this appearance, she takes on the role of a Revolutionary with her hallmark temperament of exuberance and spontaneity in the company of her poodle Pepe. Whimsical in sensibility, Kakanias has imbued his protagonist with passion, vigour and determination, timeless qualities that encapsulate the Greek’s struggle for independence, as well as describe the Greek psyche at the centre of which are “life, liberty and pursuit of happiness”, to quote from the Declaration of another famous independence struggle. The limited edition comprises 200 numbered trainers for men and women on sale now at Kalogirou stores.
1821 Anniversary Pouch by Callista Crafts
Known for its exceptional handcraftsmanship and timeless elegance, Athens-based leather goods brand Callista is commemorating the 200 year anniversary of the Greek Revolution with a whimsical pouch inspired by the Greek national costume, worn today by the Evzones, the Greek Presidential Guard who stand as a national symbol of the country’s independence struggle. Creative director Elvira Panagiotopoulou has creatively deconstructed the uniform, using an inverted “farion”, the Evzones’ characteristic red cap, as a base, swapping the baise fabric and long black tassel of the original cap with leather and a shorter gold tassel. A leather pleated body is a nod to the “fustanella”, their iconic kilt-like garment, while two black pompoms echo the “tsarouchia”, the uniform’s red clogs. The bag’s subversive silhouette marries tradition with innovation, breathing new life into hallowed yet parochial symbols.
The Benaki Shop X Daphne Leon ceramics collection
Commissioned by the Benaki Museum Shop to create a series of objects to commemorate the bicentennial of the Greek War of Independence, Athenian ceramist Daphne Leon drew inspiration from the War’s storied iconography for a collection of hand-sculpted and hand- painted ceramic plates. Leon’s work has a reputation for playfulness and exuberance – as attested by the colourful decorative plates that she designed for Oursin, Simon Porte Jacquemus’ Mediterranean restaurant in Paris – but for this series, she has opted for a more sombre aesthetic of rougher, matt textures and an all-white palette. Revolutionary emblems like swords, flags, and documents are artfully incorporated into a series of plates as miniature reliefs. Hand-sculpted in great detail, the plates highlight the emblems’ symbolic value without grandstanding or sentimentalizing, subtly imbuing instead a sense of playfulness and familiarity. It’s no coincidence that Leon’s plates aren’t intended to be displayed on the wall or in a vitrine but rather to enliven the dinner table. The Benaki Shop X Daphne Leon collection will make its debut at Benaki Museum Pireos 138 on the occasion of the upcoming “1821 Before and After” exhibition.
Special Edition Flat-pack Evzone by Hartovasilion
One of the most famous tourist attractions in Athens are the Evzones, the ceremonial unit that guards the Greek Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Wearing the traditional white kilt (the “fustanella”), red felt caps, and red clogs with black pompoms, they take their name, uniform, and famously stern temperament from the elite infantry and mountain units that fought in the Greek War of Independence. To commemorate the bicentennial, Greek design brand Hartovasilion presents a special edition of its playful flat-pack Evzone paper figure. Designed by DKD Studio, in pre-cut pieces printed on plastic-laminated paperboard with embossed, pantone and gold-foiled details, the figure is easy and quite fun to assemble.
1821, Marios Schwab's SS '21 collection for Zeus + Dione
Greek fashion brand Zeus + Dione has been celebrating Greek folk culture and traditional craftsmanship since its inception so it’s only natural that its Spring-Summer 2021 collection would somehow mark the bicentennial of the 1821 Revolution. Designed by the brand’s new creative director, half-Greek, half-Austrian fashion designer Marios Schwab, the collection includes several pieces inspired by the contemporaneous dress code: a white pleated skirt is a nod to the “fustanella”, the iconic kilt-like garment worn by the Evzones, the elite units of the Greek revolutionary army, a button-down blouse made of textured silk brings to mind the “fermeli”, their intricately embroidered wool waistcoat, while "Fesi" a red clutch bag with a long black tassel is a homage to their red felt cap. Known for his concept-driven approach and minimalist aesthetic, Schwab has masterfully married the brand’s classical simplicity and contemporary sophistication with the Revolution’s folkloric sensibility without betraying his creative ethos.
Porcelain Fustanella by Yannis Sergakis
To mark the momentous anniversary, Athenian jeweller Yannis Sergakis has designed for the first time something that cannot be worn: a porcelain object inspired by one of the revolution’s most recognizable symbols, the “fustanella”. Famously worn by the Greek revolutionaries, the white pleated kilt-like garment is made from over 30 metres of fabric and features 400 pleats representing the liberation of Greece from the years of Ottoman occupation. Memorialized by countless historic paintings of illustrious war heroes, it can still be observed today in all its glory as it forms part of the uniform worn by the Presidential Guards in Athens. The sculpted fustanella commemorates “the idea of a Greek in an eternal cycle of struggle and joy, disappointment and hope, fatigue and energy, lethargy and vigour” Sergakis says, its small size the embodiment of a small but proud nation. Conceived in collaboration with ceramist Ellie Sofianopoulou, and crafted by sculptor and art conservator Giorgos Katsigiannis, the porcelain object is presented in a branded wooden box and is available to buy at both Sergakis’ Athens boutique and website.
Limited Edition Eleftheria i Thanatos Hoodie by 2112.
Founded by designer Nick Paraskevakis during lockdown, premium streetwear label 2112 (ΕΙΚΟΣΙΕΝΑ ΔΩΔΕΚΑ) draws inspiration from Greek mythology, interweaving past and present in clean-cut, playfully styled, exquisitely crafted apparel. To commemorate the 200-year anniversary of the Greek Revolution, the label presents a limited number of oversized hoodies with the words “Ελευθερία ή Θάνατος” (eng: Freedom or death), the country’s national motto popularised in the Greek songs of resistance that fuelled the revolution. Silkscreened in abbreviated form on the front and back and embroidered on the sleeves, the motto appears in the Didot font, used in some of the earliest printed works about the Greek Enlightenment and which takes its name from French typographer Firmin Didot, one of the first entrepreneurs to set up a printing press in the newly independent Greek state in the 19th century. Made from high quality non-GMO Greek cotton, and dyed in black as a symbol of the 400-year Ottoman occupation, the hoodie combines the effortless coolness of Paraskevakis’ Sneakaces clothing brand with a sense of pride.