In memoriam: Sophia Kokosalaki (1972-2019)
Greek-born London based fashion designer Sophia Kokosalaki has died at the age of 47. Today, fashion critic Sarah Mower affectionately commemorated her with an image caption on Instagram ‘as a sister pioneer of the London fashion new wave of the 2000s.’
The designer was known for her delicate, subtly ethereal and sublimely draped creations, which championed her Greek heritage through a contemporary Hellenism. Expert pleating, the incorporation of ancient mythology and even the tones of the dark Cretan landscape were all part of her vision. During her career, Kokosalaki took the creative helm of a number of leading luxury brands and interwove the threads of her own brand narrative with that of the history of contemporary Greece, overseeing the costumes and uniforms for teams, officials and the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.
Kokosalaki was born in Athens in 1972. She received a degree in Greek and English Literature before moving to London to study at Central Saint Martins under legendary Professor Louise Wilson. She graduated in 1998 and debuted her first womenswear collection at London Fashion Week a year later. This debut led to a year long appointment as designer at Italian leather label Ruffo Research. Kokosalaki was awarded the New Generation Designer prize at the Fashion Awards in 2003. Her focus on the classical silhouette and her skill at draping also caught the attention of Parisian maison Vionnet and Kokosalaki was appointed creative director of the house from 2006-2007. In 2009, Kokosalaki was made head designer at Diesel’s Black Gold, a position she held for three years. She launched her debut bridal collection in 2012, which incorporated Delphic pleats and ruched silhouettes.
In recent years, Kokosalaki had turned her attention to fine jewellery. Her interest was piqued in 2015 when she collaborated with the late Greek goldsmith Ilias Lalaounis. Kokosalaki’s debut collection in 2017 incorporated mythical motifs and drew on the Grecian tradition of goldsmithing. ‘My heritage is an endless source of inspiration for my work, but I try to give it a modern twist so it stands out,’ she told Wallpaper* at the time.
Kokosalaki is survived by her husband and daughter.