By Alix Norman
I love fashion. I always have. And although I’m no expert I’ve spent a great deal of my life fascinated by clothes. And then there’s my magazine collection: there’s hardly an issue of Vogue from the last twenty years that isn’t stacked by date on my bookshelves. Which leads to me why I’m so completely thrilled to meet the people behind what could be my ultimate coffee table book: Fashion Portfolio.
Owners of A Bookworm Publication, both Ioanna Christodoulou and Nikolas Kyriakou have themselves long been leading lights in Cyprus’ fashion industry, albeit behind the scenes. Both having worked for innumerable magazines, newspapers and the like before starting their own publishing house in 2010, the newly released Fashion Portfolio is an obvious project for two such creative talents. This ultimate in Cypriot fashion bibles contains page after elegant page celebrating the work of 45 leading designers on the island.
“This was a project that we’d always wanted to work on,” says Ioanna – a journalist and creative dynamo. Immaculately dressed in monochrome with matching stilettos, this walking advert for high style is nevertheless possessed of a sparkling personality and a seriously infectious laugh. Her partner in business, Nikolas, though slightly less outwardly vivacious in terms of character, exudes a similar passion for the project, his face lighting up as he talks about the weeks of hard work the two have spent putting together their latest publication.
“We’re very proud of this project,” he says, smiling shyly. “We knew we were taking a huge risk, but it’s something that we’d been talking about doing for years now,” he enthuses.
As a former Fashion Editor of Madame Figaro, Omikron and Cosmopolitan magazines, Nikolas explains that the move into publishing came naturally to both of them: “We both love books, and had been discussing starting something of our own for ages before we began A Bookworm Publication. And while Ioanna is mostly the reader – and a journalist – I’m the more the visual guy.” Clearly a success from the outset, the venture has now published innumerable books to great acclaim, but one feels that the duo’s latest undertaking is definitely closest to their hearts.
“Although we’ve been doing this for four years, we’ve really just started,” says Ioanna, whose love of books and reading is evidenced with every word. “But it’s definitely something we hope to be doing for life. I’ve wanted to run a publishing house since I was a kid; when I was seven I wanted to marry Charles Dickens – before I found out he was no longer alive!” Merging her passion for the printed word with her love of fashion, and drawing on Nikolas’ visual skills to produce the immaculate Fashion Portfolio has meant months of hard work for the pair and their associates.
Encompassing a team that is wholly Cypriot in every respect – from designers to photographers, makeup artists, hairdressers and printers – the book is a project that will clearly go a long way towards encouraging and supporting the country’s abundance of creative talent: “It was very important to us to keep the book an entirely Cypriot venture,” says Nikolas. “We thought it would be more solid that way. And we’ve connected the project to a local charity, Alkionides, which supports the kids and families of Cypriots.”
With 25 per cent of all sales going to help the charity, the two hope to break even at the end of the day. But it’s clearly not the money that has kept them slaving away for the last few months, inviting designers to participate in the project, organising and producing the exquisite shoots, choosing from thousands of images and liaising night and day with Theopress printers.
“The designers were all very excited when we first suggested the idea,” Ioanna explains. “The photographer, Harris Kyprianou, is one of the most talented fashion photographers in Cyprus, the models were chosen from local agencies and we shot the garments both in the studio and in locations around the island.” Securing the services of renowned make-up artist Chrystal Michael, and the talents of hairdressers Sotiris Foiniris and Marios Neophytou has conferred a seamlessly professional finish to each and every image in the book.
“We realised that now was the time to release the book,” says Ioanna. “There are some incredibly talented people in Cyprus, and they shouldn’t have to stop working because of the crisis. Most people think of fashion as an extravagance, a luxury. But these are not the major fashion houses of Europe; most don’t even have press offices and they have to strive to survive the times. There used to be so many shows, but even Fashion Week has stopped now. So we thought this was a great way to promote the work of these artists, in an edition that’s permanent, that stays in your library.”
And yet Fashion Portfolio, with its beautifully worded bios of the designers, visually spectacular studio shots and fashion editorials, is priced at an extremely reasonable €20. “We wanted the book to be approachable to everyone,” Ioanna explains, “from fashion students to magazine editors we want people to be able to afford it, to see what’s really going on in Cyprus’ world of fashion.” It’s rare that so worthy an aim is married with such a striking end product. But in this case, it won’t be charitable intention alone that sees Ioanna and Nikolas’ book in pride of place on my coffee table; with Portfolio, they’ve fashioned a winner.
Fashion Portfolio is published by A Bookworm Publication, and is available for purchase at Kyriakou Bookstore in Limassol, Metropolitan Bookshop in Nicosia and Bibliocosmos in Larnaca. It can also be ordered online at www.buy.com.cy and www.vivliosofia.com. Priced at €20, 25 per cent of the profit will go to the Alkionides charity. For further information call 22 347797, [email protected] or visit the Facebook page A Bookworm Publication