An Interview with Friends & Designers Marina Raphael & Evangelie Smyrniotaki

vor 3 years

Swarovski family member Marina Raphael teamed up with the influencer star Evangelie Smyrniotaki for her latest handbag collection, stemming from a friendship that evolved on a flight from New York to Athens. 

The young handbag designer Marina Raphael, whose brand is of the same name, collaborated with Evangelie Smyrniotaki to create a bag for the new era – the Evangelie bag. It is modern, comes with a square handle, a black shoulder strap and – the best thing – it is emblemed with 5000 Swarovski crystals (!!!) The designer bag comes in two colors: black and pink. With the brand’s key focus laying in elegance, craftsmanship and sustainability, all handbags are made in Florence under its ‘near zero waste policy.’ We interviewed Marina and her muse Evangelie to talk about their friendship and collaboration.

Fräulein speaks with Marina Raphael:

You were born in Greece. What is your relationship to the country?

I have lived in Athens my whole life, and at this point in time I cannot imagine myself living anywhere else. Other than having my family and friends here, I also love the country and the people. Even though I had the chance to live in the UK for 3 years, while I was studying Business Management at Kings College London, Greece truly feels like home.

How did it come you decided to base your company in Greece?

I honestly believe in the potential that there is here in Greece. The people are extremely hardworking and there are many highly educated individuals who are not offered enough opportunities to thrive. My team in Greece is proof of that statement. Without them, I wouldn’t have achieved as much as I have in such a short period of time! I really believe that a Greek brand can meet international standards.

Are you proud to be part of the Swarovski family?

Being part of such an entrepreneurial family is something I am very proud of. It helped me realize how important it is to create something of meaning, as the Swarovski brand was built on the vision of the founder, Daniel Swarovski, who wanted to create “a diamond for everyone”. Today, I try to live up to the legacy set by my ancestors, and carve my own path, by creating accessories that empower everyone carrying them, allowing individuals to feel confident in their own skin.

Due to you being part of the famous Swarovski family, would you say that it helped launching and boosting your brand?

Growing up I was very lucky to be exposed to the world of business and fashion. I am fortunate to have strong, confident, passionate, and hardworking women as my role models, and had the chance to learn early on about the value of quality and attention to detail. Knowing how each single Swarovski crystal is cut to perfection, with such meticulousness, inspired me to instill high craftsmanship into my own brand. That is why I make sure that each stitch and seam on every Marina Raphael design is made with the same detail and precision as a Swarovski crystal.

What inspired your brand?
The strong women in my family. These sophisticated and elegant women have been my muses during my journey of building my own brand. Their innate poise and the endless support they have shown me is something I try to translate into my bags, as I strive to make every person carrying my creations feel as confident and chic as they are.

What is your future goal?
My goal is to grow my company on a more international level and keep creating modern investment pieces that adhere to the highest quality standards. I would love to explore new ideas and design concepts through collaborations. I really believe that conversations with other creative individuals open your mind to new possibilities and push your creative boundaries. Looking forward, I would also love to expand my retailers, and eventually open my own flagship stores!

You and Evangelie are friends. How long have you been friends?

We have been friends for about 2 years now, but it feels like much longer! When you really click with another person, you feel like you have known each other for a whole lifetime! Although we might not meet up on a regular basis, we know that we are both there for one another when it really matters. We have many things in common, and our personalities complement each other so well, that whenever we meet up, it’s as if not a day went by.

You and Evangelie coincidentally sat next to each other on a flight coming from Paris Fashion Week. How did it come that at this point you decided to collaborate? How did the idea of ​​a party bag with 5000 Swarovski crystals form?

It was Evangelie that actually proposed this collaboration and came up with the idea of ​​a fully crystalized micro handbag. Once I heard her vision, I instantly fell in love! We are both crystal lovers, and could not wait to create a bag that really embodies all the fun we have when we are together. Crystals bring out a sense of joy and happiness and remind me of my favorite time of the year- the winter holiday season!

Why did you choose the colors black and pink?
We chose the two handles as an ode to one’s adventurous duality that shifts from classic spirit, depicted in the black handle, to edgy modernity, with the pink fluorescent handle. The two colors are also a symbolism for mine and Evangelie’s complimentary presence!

In discussion with Evangelie Smyrniotaki:

Where did you first meet Marina?
We first met on the plane on our way back from NY to Athens. We instantly got along, and felt a connection, and as we started talking, we realized all the things we have in common, like our passion for fashion, and our strong work ethic. After that, we kept meeting by chance, on other flights, especially during fashion weeks, and since then she has become my fashion travel buddy!

How did you feel about Marina inviting you to work on an exiting collection with her?

I had a great appreciation for the high quality and craftsmanship standards she set, and I love the attention to detail she puts in all her work. Her drive and passion is also something that captivated me, and that made me really look forward to the opportunity of working with her.

Is this your first handbag collaboration?
Yes, it is, and I am very excited that my first handbag collaboration is with a dear friend of mine. We are both fans of sparkle and we wanted to design the ultimate festive holiday bag together!

What would you say that you and Marina have in common?
We definitely share a common love for style and fashion as well as a strong motivation for everything we do. Of course, living in Greece, and being of Greek heritage is also something we have in common. We complement each other’s personalities, and share the same values ​​on the importance of quality, sustainability and craftsmanship.

What do you like most about her label’s handbags?

The unique design, and the intricacy that lies within the simplicity of the bags, is what caught my eye from the very beginning. But it is the exceptional quality and craftsmanship that has made me fall in love with her creations, as they embody the true meaning of investment pieces. The bags are timeless pieces that can be worn throughout the years, but are made with today’s sustainable mindset, which makes them all the more special.

The aim behind the “Evangelie” bag, which is named after you, is a party bag. Isn’t it a contradiction to what is happening in regards to Covid-19? What is your message behind this collaboration? 

For us, this bag was made to convey our message of love and acceptance. Just like the thousands of sparkling crystals placed on the bag, we want to remind everyone that we all have a chance to sparkle! And of course, now, this may sound contradictory as we are not able to enjoy traveling and going out like we used to, but we wanted to point out, that better and brighter days are ahead of us. Whether you’re out, or simply enjoying time with close friends, everyone deserves to be glamorous.

Which handbag is your favorite from this collection – the black or the pink one?

I absolutely love both! It is so difficult to choose! I think that based on all my clothes, and my personal sense of style I would gravitate towards the black one a little more, just because it is such a statement piece, and can be paired with any outfit.

Interview by Barbara Anthofer

The first drop of these bags sold out fast! For the holidays, a new run has been released, which can be found here! If you want one, act fast!

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