With an impressive and striking collection, one fashion designer is ready to take her designs to a wider audience finds NIKI CHARALAMBOUS

Nasia Markou is proof it is never too late to choose a path to follow. “I always thought I wanted to be a computer engineer or a mathematician, but in high school I met an extremely passionate art teacher who encouraged me to explore art, which I eventually developed an intense appreciation for,” Markou explained. “I enjoyed drawing anime, and realised I had a skill that could be used to illustrate fashion sketches.”

Today, Markou is fresh out of fashion design school, having created her own collection that was the centrepiece at Alexander College’s end-of-year show. Markou’s collection wowed audiences with its unique approach to fashion design and outstanding creations that could easily pass at one of Europe’s high-end fashion labels.

fashion nasia markou

Nasia Markou

Markou, who was born in Paralimni and now lives in Frenaros in the Famagusta district, pursued her original calling after high school by enrolling in college to study computer science and engineering. After completing her first year, the artist within prevailed, prompting her to switch to fashion design. “After my first year, I realised it wasn’t meant to be, so I followed my heart.”

Her parents were also willing to indulge their daughter’s passion for fashion by encouraging her to attend sewing and stitching classes, which, when combined with her ability to sketch unique fashion illustrations and her out-of-the-box creative style, made it clear she was a fashion designer in the making.

“Our clothes are a reflection of who we are, what we feel, and the message we want to send to the world,” she said.

According to Markou, each of her creations has a story to tell, “because it represents me as a person.” She begins by constructing a concept, the story line, and then immerses herself entirely as a character within the narrative, whether she has been inspired by her passion for Japanese animation, a fictional character, person, or experience that resonates with her positively. Nature and current events also play a role as she transforms her vision onto paper, ultimately creating fashion designs that reflect her own brand style and personality.

fashion3“Every item I create needs to represent me,” she told the Cyprus Mail. “In terms of colour palette and style, I would describe it as a combination of vampire fashion and minimalism.”

Influenced by the styles of the 17th and 18th centuries, as well as the Victorian era, Markou’s ‘vampire’ elegant but somewhat timeless designs include a blend of dark red, black, grey and white apparel, and she enjoys working with numerous fabrics.

When it comes to the local industry, Markou explained that young Cypriot designers confront many challenges, including high material costs, which make it impossible to earn a profit or even operate and maintain their own workspace. “Customers in Cyprus tend to stick to well-known fashion designers and are hesitant to experiment with new talent, which offer fresh, cutting-edge fashion trends, styles, and colours,” she said.

But Markou aspires to break away from Cyprus’ commercial constraints and become an internationally recognised designer. “I want to learn about other countries’ cultures and designs, and then create fashion items for people who want to wear my clothes as a form of self-expression.”

fashion2She is optimistic about the fashion industry on the island, which she believes will change for the better in the near future. She predicts that the island will see a fashion revolution as a result of globalisation, “and the fact that young designers are no longer afraid to express themselves is a sign that we are breaking down the barriers set by traditional stereotypes.”

International fashion designers Alexander McQueen and Elsa Schiaparelli are among those she admires for their ability to defy convention and stand out. On a more local level, her lecturer and mentor Pantelis Panteli has played a crucial part in her development as a fashion designer, urging her to remain true to her own style and identity.

“Social media is also a great marketing tool and the best conduit for bringing in new and potential clients to the fashion industry. Designers can instantly advertise their work around the world, build a fan base, and establish direct contact with current and potential clients. However, there is always the possibility that someone will steal your design and claim ownership,” she said.

For the time being, Markou is enjoying her moment, having completed her studies on a positive note with favourable evaluations from prominent individuals in the local fashion industry. “I want people to remember my work and what my designs stand for. My goal is to live and work overseas for a while, gaining knowledge and expertise from international fashion designers so that I can be the best that I can be.”