Astarte

Inspired by the myth of an ancient art, Astarte bags bring embroidery to the present with a contemporary look

Discovery

Ιt is rare when you attend an enjoyable social event and walk away inspired. However that is what happened when I reunited with Eleni Ismiridis at a dinner party. We began to talk about bags...how I crave them and how she designs them....

Eleni started Astarte two years ago in the leafy suburb of Neo Psychiko, Athens. Eleni designs classic and timeless bags, either partially or fully embroidered.They are all minimal, with a geometric aesthetic and impeccably finished.

Eleni’s philosophy is that “tradition continues, it is enriched and recreated ”. Her bags stand out because they are handmade. The fully executed designs are given to her expert seamstresses and to her selected leather craftsmen, the ones who are still in business after the crisis.

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Eleni’s philosophy is that “tradition continues, it is enriched and recreated ”. Her bags stand out because they are handmade. The fully executed designs are given to her expert seamstresses and to her selected leather craftsmen, the ones who are still in business after the crisis

She pointed out that embroidery in Greece is a forgotten and sometimes misunderstood art form, often associated with mundane household items like traditional tablecloths. She wanted to show how this age-old technique could be brought up to date and her signature Penelope clutch is hand embroidered. Like many other Greek designers, she wants to pioneer and support accessories made in Greece. She uses Italian leather and thread from Greece and Turkey. Her colour range is a rich one ranging from camel to a pink which reminds one of faded roses.

She chose the name “Astarte”, a goddess worshipped by many civilisations. She liked the sound of the name, its historical links but also the fact that it had nothing to do with embroidery! All the bags are given names inspired by Greek tradition, history and mythology, such as Penelope, Artemis, Hera and Calypso. Thus she can introduce her overseas clients to the spirit of Greece.

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Eleni pointed out that embroidery in Greece is a forgotten and sometimes misunderstood art form, often associated with mundane household items like traditional tablecloths. She wanted to show how this age-old technique could be brought up to date and her signature Penelope clutch is hand embroidered


Memory

Hailing from a medical family, Eleni studied medicine herself but never practiced it as she was won over by the world of commerce. She had a homeware store in Kolonaki for years but her favourite accessory and true passion was always bags.

Therefore she focused her creative energy on those and began designing. The first bag she created was the Penelope clutch. She felt a big sense of accomplishment when she finished it but as she is a perfectionist, she kept making alterations. “A bag is something you use daily. You have to actually hold it to see if it works for you”, she says.

She faces a number of difficulties, mainly when it comes to purchasing certain parts for the bags’s construction and sourcing craftspeople as there are few remaining workshops in existence.

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Narration

Eleni’s creations are inspired by her own love of form but also the latest fashion trends. She loves getting feedback from friends and clients and is particularly happy when the final result is exactly what she had imagined.

Astarte was a Phoenician goddess, worshipped in the Middle East and primarily in the cities of Tyre and Sidon, where the Cypriots discovered her. Greeks associated her with Aphrodite as she was the goddess of love, fertility and emerged from the sea. Every civilisation had a different name for her including Attar, Ishtar, Astoreth or Inanna.

 

Stories

19.07.2019

Text

Eugenia Chandris

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