As the patter of rain fell on the cobblestone streets outside, a giant tulle bow was being meticulously sewn onto a floor-length scarlet gown. Two seamstresses hunched over it, pins in their mouths and tape measures on their laps, using the deft mannerisms of people who have racked up a lot more than Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours.
We should be in Paris. That’s where the heady couture ateliers of our imagination are all based – or, at a stretch, Milan. But I was further east than European fashion’s centre of gravity: in an Athenian apartment on the edge of the Plaka. If I craned my head out of Atelier Loukia’s window, I could see the bulge of the Acropolis above the rooftops and the hordes of tourists dotting it like ants. (more…)