OLYMPIC TORCH LIGHTING CEREMONY COSTUMES | HOW IT ALL STARTED?
During the 2012 London Olympics I had the pleasure of going to a party hosted by The Hellenic Olympic Committee, which was attended by many competing athletes and notable VIPs such as The former King and Queen of Greece, (Constantine II and Anne-Marie).
On this delightful occasion I met Vaso Vougiouka, one of Greece’s star athletes, a sabre fencer, and also a very tall and strikingly beautiful woman. She has been a muse of mine ever since and we have also become friends. Since meeting her I also arranged a charity raffle held by Cypria Auctions which raised money for Vaso’s 2016 campaign in Rio.
And at that party I also met Charis Tsolakis, Vaso’s physical trainer.
One rarely has the pleasure of meeting a person like Charis. He is a rare breed. The second I met him we instantly hit it off and chatted for most of the party. He is an outstanding person: social, polite and incredibly likeable. He is also an individual who genuinely wants to do good and if there is anything that he can do, within his power, to help you, then you can be certain he will do it - and with so much humility, he almost sees it as his duty to help and really declines in taking any of the credit he deserves. The minute I told him I was a fashion designer he immediately proposed: ‘then you have to do something for the next Olympics’. He introduced me to Spyros Capralos, President of HOC, at that party.
Over the next couple of years I met up with Charis a couple of times as we toyed with the idea of me designing the Greek kit, but a contract had been given to the Chinese brand 361 degrees – who were major sponsors. He also attended my catwalk shows, consistently expressing his full support and belief in me, which meant a lot to me. Then when we met in 2015, just when I started to think it would be difficult to be involved in any way, Charis’s face suddenly lit up as we chatted and he suggested ‘Why don’t you redesign The Olympic Torch Lighting Ceremony Costumes?’. And so I did. It was Charis’ idea and he arranged the first meeting – so really, many people have him to thank, most of all me.
Charis Tsolakis from The Hellenic Olympic Committee and I when we met during The Summer Olympics, London 2012