By Alix Norman
When I was little, one of my favourite poems began with the line ‘Cobalt and umber and ultramarine, ivory back and emerald green’. Each verse seemed to conjure colour from the very air, like swathes of silken fabric – all the colours of the rainbow cascading through my mind’s eye. And suddenly, years later, here it is in front of me: the poem made real. Only now, the creatrice responsible for this vision has hung her musings on a clothes rail in the form of a riot of exquisitely colourful pieces: Funky Skirts.
Fuschia and turquoise, sea green and sunflower… the colours are all there, in a tactile riot of silks and satins, cottons and linens. There’s patches of deepest denim, squares of striped crochet work, scarlet slub silks and swathes of the softest creams and mochas, each piece a testament to the creativity of its author: Stella Georgiades.
The talent behind Funky Skirts, Stella has been quietly designing and producing her clothing line for almost 10 years now: boasting a client list that includes the great and good, she’s on speed dial for anyone needing a uniquely beautiful look for the next high-end function. With customers returning each season to peruse the multi-hued racks, or even to request a design of their own creation, Stella has certainly cornered the market in delightful – and funky – skirts.
“I grew up around material,” she says, gesturing to the bolts of fabric that line the walls of her sewing room. A spare room stolen from the house proper, it’s bathed in colour and light, and crammed with equipment (I spy an overlocker, an industrial Singer and a full size workbench, as well as innumerable pairs of scissors, a state of the art computer and a couple of oversize pincushions which bristle on the walls like mountaineering hedgehogs). Originally intended as a dining room (“When we first moved here, I didn’t even have this – just an ironing board and a plank of wood,” she giggles), the space is a far cry from the textile factory in which she was practically raised.
“Like all good Cypriots, my parents had a clothing business in London,” she reminisces. “I’d be put to sleep amongst the fabrics when I was a baby; it was so soft, so relaxing… a very beautiful dimension to be in,” she sighs. “In later years, I guess I was influenced by the manufacturers, the fabrics, the sellers and buyers – the whole caboodle,” she adds. “I’ve always sewn, always created and mended and fixed… when I first met my husband he used to bring me all sorts of things to make and mend – even, on one occasion, his ski boot!” she laughs.
It’s may seem a long way from ski boots to skirts, but Stella is clearly a creator at heart, her thriving business evidence of a lively mind and talent. “Each design is always different,” she says. Made from high quality fabrics all every piece is a one-off, often designed with a specific person in mind. “I’m never afraid of them being copied; they’re all unique. In fact, the only time I have a problem is when a customer asks for exactly the same skirt again!” So where does the inspiration come from?
“Time spent in creation is an investment not just in your life, but the lives of those around you. When you’re creating, you’re experiencing the essence of something greater,” she continues, adding that the process is both calming and invigorating from start to finish. “I usually begin with ideas from magazines and the internet, making a mental library if you like. I prefer not to draw the design – it limits the creativity: the end product can be very boring indeed if you’re working with an idea that doesn’t change as you go along – and then when the fabrics are there, that information comes to hand. Of course you know when you’re sewing that there are certain necessary elements – no heavy metal zips on light summer skirts; no chunky buttons on the back or design features that emphasise the hips.”
This careful understanding of what suits a woman’s form (and that of the odd fashionable youngster: “One little girl came to me with her mother, asking for a skirt that swirled when she twirled,” laughs Stella. “So we made her one… she was thrilled!”) is, no doubt, a huge part of Stella’s success. She’s immaculate herself, dressed in one of her own feather-light summer creations, the silhouette intensely flattering; apparently, the secret is in the waistband. “Every skirt I make has a jersey waistband,” she confides. “It’s the perfect design: not only can it be raised or lowered according to how the fabric falls on your body and the top you’re wearing, but it also allows you to go up or down a size without ever bunching round the middle.
If you’re pregnant, it stretches, and I can always replace the band if – after nine months of pregnancy – it’s become a little too accommodating!”
With such an easy-going manner, it’s no surprise that Stella has a client list of over 300 well-dressed women: “I get clients who save up and then come in for a whole season’s worth of skirts at once,” says Stella, motioning to one of the racks in the corner which holds some of her summer collection. Wheeled out, it’s a smorgasbord of sartorial delight in crimson and cream, jades and rose, toffee and gold: a paintbox of fabrics. It’s no wonder I was reminded of the poem, I think, as I take my leave: each and every Funky Skirt is a painting fashioned from fabric. And a testament to the perfectly creative mind.
Funky Skirts by Stella Georgiades retail from approximately €80 and are available directly from Stella herself. To arrange a viewing, call 99 661 840 or 22 491 840. You can also visit her Facebook page (www.facebook.com/stella.georgiades) to view many of the designs or, similarly, search for ‘stella’s funky skirts’ on Pinterest. Stella also designs a line of bags, shawls, and a variety of fabric art.