Meet Elena Panagopoulos, HANRO’s Secret Gem

Behind the scenes at HANRO

Elena Panagopoulos, a designer at HANRO for almost nine years, tells Here & There what has inspired her to create the new Spring/Summer Collection, what makes the collection so special and what her favourite items are.

Elena Panagopoulos’ grandparents were big HANRO fans, so they obviously shared their love for the brand by giving her a HANRO night dress for her 16th birthday. “Ever since, I loved the brand and the wonderful materials. So, when I graduated from fashion school I decided to apply as a design assistant. Now, I am at HANRO for almost 9 years, I am designing the entire women’s collection and I still love the brand and its philosophy. By the way, I still own that nightdress and it looks great.”

What strikes first about HANRO is the very pure and sophisticated aesthetic. “The materials and the manufacturing are as important as the design, Elena explains. We are always trying to design timeless pieces with delicate details that you would want to wear for many years, not only for one season. We believe quality is more important than quantity, that’s why every step of the production is watched carefully.” Every collection starts with inspiration; travelling, visiting current exhibitions and fairs, attending trend presentations and opening up to new influences and ideas are important for Elena. “I love travelling and exploring new cultures and countries.” She remembers three of her favourite spots. Of course, the Rub al-Khali desert was a very inspiring place for Elena. “I loved the colours, the sound of the desert at night and the kindness of the people and of course the food.” Part Greek from her father, Elena has a duty to mention Greece. “I love Lemnos, Paxos and Peloponnese. I love the smell of the dry herbs and the sea and the people’s incredible hospitality. There are so many stunning Islands and the sea is magnificent.” On another, completely different note, Elena also mentions Copenhagen as one of her favourite cities. “It’s such a charming and relaxing place. There are many great restaurants and beautiful shops. I have been there six times and I would go again tomorrow without any hesitation.”

This new Spring/Summer collection is inspired by the beautiful Rub al-Khali desert and its majestic appearance. At first glance, it’s just an endless landscape of sand,  but looking closely, “the sun and the wind make this place appear different and new every second”. The collection is inspired by the pureness and easiness as well as the little details and colour plays you can find in the sand dunes. Then, impressions are filtered and organized, so to start forming a rough overview. It’s important for HANRO to always be on-trend but also follow the brand’s specific handwriting. Elena and her team build one by creating mood and colour boards and making mock-ups or hand sketches to get a feeling of their original ideas. “We are citing the fabrics and components we sourced during our creation process and thinking of ways to use them.” After the product management department puts together a rough plan with important data like pricing structure, sizes of the collections, HANRO’s creative team tests all the chosen materials in house in their own quality department, a very important step to guarantee the highest quality of products. “If a material doesn´t pass our very strict tests we won’t use it. Then we are working on the patterns and we will sew the first samples in house. We are fitting the samples afterwards and ideally release them to our production. As we are all working in the same building we have very close teamwork, which helps us during our creation process. Every team member is very hands-on.”

“For this new collection, I was inspired by the beautiful colour play of the desert, the plants and animals that live there. I love the way the sun makes the sand appear different every moment. Sometimes the sand looks reddish-brown like our ‘light mahogany’ and sometimes light and soft like ‘soft beige’ or ‘Sahara’. In the very early morning when the sun rises in the desert you can find little footprints of various animals like desert cats or oryx, that inspired us to use structured fabrics and laces. Even though the desert might appear abandoned, there is so much life and energy, it’s really stunning.”

This new Spring/Summer collection uses many structured fabrics, like linen blends and Piquet but also perforated materials. Overall, the brand mainly uses natural fabrics, like summery cotton, light silk voiles, soft modal and relaxed linen blends. “We love the soft hand feel and positive wearing properties of these fabrics,” Elena reveals that her favourite item is the woven dress art. 8574 in the colour fresh air of the Urban Casuals group. “I love the summery yet modern look of the Linen Cupro fabric and the easy pattern. It’s the perfect summer companion.”

 

HANRO’s team is constantly working on improving their collections, not only style-wise but also in terms of sustainability.  As they are producing most of their fabrics in-house, in the G.O.T.S certified fabric production, the brand is already able to take a high impact on how the fabrics are produced and which yarns are used. HANRO is planning to use more and more sustainable fibres like TENCELTM. “For us, sustainability is also the longevity of the garments, that’s why we are so keen on quality and wearability.”

Campaign for SS2020 collection

Words by Alexa Bouhelier-Ruelle

Photos provided by HANRO

Portrait images by Lena Wunderlich

Behind the scene images by Heimo Reumüller

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Here & There Magazine is an online magazine covering art, fashion and travel destinations. Exclusive issues and guides give readers an insider's view into cities around the world.
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