The pure silk delights can be found in upmarket boutiques on the Greek islands of Mykonos and Santorini as well as at an exclusive resort in Fiji.
They bear the label Exotik Glamour and behind it is a remarkable enterprise that began just two years ago when its Sydney founder, Koula Papadopoulos, decided she needed a fresh creative outlet.
“I never trained in fashion, but can sew and draw, and when my kids were younger, I made bonbonieres and boxed baby gifts for numerous weddings and christenings,” says the mother of four who was born in Australia to Greek immigrant parents.
“They were traditional bonbonieres – typically, containing sugared almonds – and I sourced the lace trimmings, ribbons and little ornaments for the gift boxes at trade fairs.”
The cottage industry thrived, but as her children – now aged from 16-21 – headed towards adulthood, Koula yearned for a bigger challenge. The upshot was Exotik Glamour, inspired by that timeless fashion favourite, the caftan.
“I started my label from nothing in terms of capital and contacts, but my husband Nik financed my first collection and after lots of research, I found a great manufacturer in Delhi,” reveals Koula.
The gifted Sydney entrepreneur and her Indian collaborators have turned out to be a dream team. She acts as designer/creative director; they provide graphic design and manufacture the twice-yearly collections whose exquisite handcrafted embroidery and embellishments distinguish Exotik Glamour.
The luxe label has evolved into wide-ranging resort wear – dresses, sarongs, pants, jumpsuits and tops from tunics to camisoles, as well as those sensuous caftans – in silk crepe, georgette, chiffon and satin.
With their rich colours and prints highlighted by intricate beading and details such as tassels, the pieces blend fashion and art, and are super versatile – perfect for the beach or year-round evening glamour, and favoured by trendy teens and seasoned sophisticates alike.
Behind each garment is a meticulous, sometimes lengthy process. ”I send the designs to Delhi and while some samples are sent for my approval within a week, others can take up to a month if there are details that need to be adjusted,” says Koula.
“I travel to India twice a year and what always amazes me is the handcrafting process. It’s done so fast and skillfully, and the results are beautiful. They also mean each garment is unique.”
Prior to the Sydney 2019 Fashion Exposed Now fair, Koula will exhibit at the January 25-28 Athens Fashion Trade Show. It will be her second innings at the Southeast Europe/Mediterranean region’s key international fashion trade fair and the fluent Greek speaker should do well.
“Exotik Glamour is ideal for the Greek islands which attract so many tourists, especially from across Europe and the US, and my clients in Mykonos and Santorini have already contacted me to make sure I’ll be in Athens,” she says.
Along with her new season silk confections, Koula Papadopoulos will show a capsule collection in viscose at Fashion Exposed Now.
“I’ve designed black and white statement pieces highlighted by teal and mustard. It’s a departure for me – all solids, no prints.”
– Zelda Cawthorne