Greek Costume at the Benaki

Nicholas Sperling, I said in "Vraka", was a painter who was commissioned to paint Greek costumes for the Benaki Museum in Athens. The Benaki has several subsidiary museums, but the main one, very easily findable if you know Athens, is near the junction of Koumpari Street with Avenue Vas. Sofias, and is devoted to Greek culture. Including costume.

I found some lovely photos in a blog post by "Joy": "Costumes at the Benaki" in her blog Of Stranger Sensibilities (30 June 2012) Wayback. Joy writes:

One can definitely tell that a whole assortment of foreign influences that were introduced and worked into the costumes, such as some Turkish elements for example seen here and there.

However what really drew me in were the rich details and intricacy of the embroidery. The sumptuous fabric and jewel tones of the different pieces are absolutely beautiful. I can't imagine scarcely imagine just how much time and energy it would have taken to craft each individual article of clothing, and the incredible amount taken to don the many layers. Of course, I highly doubt ordinary folk were dress as such on an everyday basis; these were likely the clothing of the elite who could all the handmaiden and servants to assist them each morning. While this makes me appreciate all the conveniences of modern sportswear and the like, there is a part of me that wonders what would have it been like to actually see people dressed as such on the streets. I guess the modern answer to this would be couture.

Do take a look at Joy's post. Even in photographs, the costumes are stunning.

One costume, less elaborate than the others, stuck in my mind because I've been writing about vraka. It has vraka with vertical blue and yellow stripes, and a purple-velvet cropped jacket with flared sleeves and gold edging over a blue waistcoat. Here's a thumbnail to entice you to look at one of the original photos linked from my post.
Mannequin wearing vraka with vertical blue and yellow stripes, and a purple-velvet cropped jacket with flared sleeves and gold edging over a blue waistcoat.
[ Image: thumbnailed from the post below, "Η Ελληνική ενδυμασία στην Αιολίδα" ]

I realised that I've seen these vraka and that jacket before. It was in another blog post: "Η Ελληνική ενδυμασία στην Αιολίδα" ("Greek costume in Aeolis") by Athanasia Stavropoulou in Ο Ελληνισμός στη Μικρασία – Küçük Asya'da Helenizm (Hellenism in Asia Minor) Wayback. It's in Greek, but Google does a surprisingly good job of translating: click here to read it in English. It's a short account of men's and women's costume in Asia Minor, mainly on Lesbos and Ayvalık on the Turkish coast, east from the northern end of Lesbos. As I said, it includes the photo from which I made the thumbnail.

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