Inspired by her heritage and an ancient relic passed down from her Greek mother and Egyptian father, Fotini Copeland channeled her own inner goddess to create the FOTINI Fall 2012 collection shown on Tuesday at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York.
Mystified by the likes of Cleopatra, Helen of Troy and Queen Nefertiti, Fotini did extensive research to create her collection, drawing from the commanding strength and power of these female rulers, which oddly enough, is part of her own heritage.
"[The collection] goes back to the ancient Egyptian queens and the Greek goddesses, which really was not difficult for me because that's my heritage," Fotini told the International Business Times backstage during preparations before the show. "It was really wonderful to do a lot of the research and speak to my parents about it and tell me their real upbringing. It's been informative and educational and a lot of fun for me."
The process was also imaginative for Fotini, who began to wonder how one of these authoritative women would dress in present day. Putting her own imagination into the collection, FOTINI presented Grecian-inspired gowns with a toga-like drape and leather, snakeskin and lace dresses all with a strong air of femininity. Fotini utilized fabrics like chiffon and jacquard to capture classic elegance before adding modern takes.
"I love real glamorous yet tasteful fabrics," Fotini said. "I think jacquards are one of my favorite. I love shiny things and fabrics that make you feel really feminine and great and special."
New this year for Fotini is the inclusion of laser-cut leather lace and feathers in gowns and cocktail dresses in a color pallete of Bordeaux, eggplant, mallard green, tobacco and navy. However, Fotini stuck to her tradition of using corsetry, which certainly added to the ancient world feel.
"Always an element of corsetry," she said. "You'll probably see it in most of the DNA of my collections going forward."
Fotini spent two and a half years studying corsetry in areas of Italy like Bologna, Comano and Bergamo. She was initially going to start her clothing business there but due to the amount of travelling and the language barrier, chose to make her home base in New York.
Before her studies growing up, Fotini used to draw, the essence of fashion design.
"As a child, I always used to sit and draw from about the age of seven or eight," she said. "It was always these paper dolls that I would draw and say that they were either in Paris or London or Morocco, which Fotini attributes the global focus of her childhood drawings to her father's extensive travels."
However, in between childhood and present day, Fotini was not a part of the fashion industry; She worked in finance by request of her father. Finally, one day, the mother of two daughters had enough.
"I think it was some timing in my life...I started working with a company who was building luxurious store fixtures. I was the director of communications so I started getting involved with the Dior's of the world and the Louie Vuitton's of the world and I was getting more and more involved in these luxury brands, on a business level, I started to really feel like there was a gap and it just never felt right, prompting Fotini to embark on her fashion design career."
The rest is history.
Fotini began creating her designs to fill a void for the ultra-feminine clothing she craved in her own life.
"My collection, my clothes, they're very feminine and I don't think a woman should give up being feminine just because she wants to be strong or a businesswoman or confident. It's very important," she said.
Combining luxe fabrics, with corsetry for an added element of seduction, Fotini did the impossible: designing clothing that is demure but also glamorous.
"A woman is a woman and she wants to be sexy," Fotini said. "She wants to be sensual without giving everything away. I think an element of mystery is extremely important for every woman."
View the slideshow to see photos of the FOTINI Fall 2012 collection at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York.