Guest Contribution by Pascal Panagiotidis
Can Passion and Hobby coincide or must we always sacrifice one for the other? Nicolas Petrou is lucky enough to have them both and if anyone gets a better look at his clothes he realizes that no matter how you name it, either Passion or Hobby, in his case the outcome is just splendid.
Nicolas Petrou graduated in 1993 with a Master of Arts degree in fashion design from the prestigious St. Martin's School in London. He has been designing for various companies in New York including his own name(PETROU) with a store on Madison Avenue. He recently launched a high end menswear collection under the name PETROU\MAN. The Cypriot designer comes to give a fresh twist in men's wardrobe getting his inspiration from illustrations of Japanese artists (Sirichai) and transforming it to comfortable good looking clothes. Nicola’s concept includes graphic printed models posing for his recent menswear collection. No need to say that the result is a totally different young look for anyone who wants to be a point of reference when it comes to the “stylish people to follow” lists.
Changing simplicity to sophistication is Nicola's favorite hobby. He has been always trying to change and transform clothes into something special.
In his latest collection he redefines the men's clothing lines through an apparent disorder which can be easily detected in his look book as well. All that inspiration filtered through an abstract approach from the designer's perspective leads to what he calls "a collection that is focused and complete".
You have graduated in 1993 from the famous St Martin’s school in London. How was it like to be in one of the most prestigious fashion colleges knowing that the new Christian Dior or Coco Channel may be right next to you?
St. Martin’s school was a great experience and taught me a lot; about research, creativity and design in general. It was never about the realities of selling, it was always about delivering a process of thought, something that was not conventional. There were a lot of talented people and that made me work harder and become more disciplined. It was like the army for fashion. So, to know that someone next to me could become the next big thing made me realize that I was part of an amazing institution.
You are a rather new designer in the fashion industry. Would you like to tell us a few things about your career so far?
I am really not that new. I have been working in Womenswear forever and had my own store, PETROU, on Madison Avenue for the last 4 years. Unfortunately, because of disagreements with my financial backers, I had to walk away from that. They had to close that store as it bared my name and I decided to start a Menswear line. Menswear was always my passion so this is a new beginning for me but not the absolute beginning.
Describe us your menswear collection. What inspires you? And how did the illustration idea come up?
The collection consists of wearable, beautifully finished pieces with unique details and great proportions. Inspiration comes from everywhere really. My world and my personal life and experiences, is what makes this collection what it is. The illustrations are part of everyday life. I wanted to show the collection with abstract images from what we live everyday. The destruction in the world around us, the different cultures, space… Not everything has to be so literal. Everyone wants to dream and transport themselves somewhere else and my mission was to accomplish that. It’s nice to be able to escape for a moment.
How difficult is it to be a cutting edge designer? What does it take to be one step ahead from the others especially in a such competitive sector as the fashion industry?
My objective is to sell of course. I do fashion for people to wear so I need to make the work wearable if I want to continue creating. But, as this is my work I approach it in a more artistic way and try and show it in a different manner. I always like to have some editorial pieces that are more out there because those are the pieces that attract attention and capture the imagination. They are the windows of the PETROU\MAN brand. There is so much competition out there so I need to have something new to say, whether is with the clothes or with the presentation or with both. But there must be a balance between the two!
Your designs are quite exquisite. Would you consider yourself as an artist rather than a designer?
As I said before, my job is to dress people but also to educate. When I design the clothes I am a designer, when I present the clothes I am an artist.
Fashion is an expression of Art and clothes give everyone a chance to express his creativity and personality. Should this form of Art be accessible or elitistic? How would you describe PETROU’s clientele?
It depends who you want your market to be. And I chose at the moment to be less accessible for obvious reasons. First, my work is my passion and a hobby so I don’t really consider it work and secondly, I could never compete with the mass market brands that are out there, so my choices are educated ones with a lot of thought and calculation. This is not a random decision or process.
What are your plans for the future? Should we expect to see your collection in your own store in Greece?
To keep doing what I love most, Menswear! I had a store in Athens back in 1998 selling both womenswear and menswear, but had to let it go as I needed to concentrate on being here in New York and build a successful career. I would love to sell my clothes in Greece again and I am open to working with a store there or a collaborator who understands my vision.