DThe first sentence that Mario Schwab utters after his face appears on the zoom screen is: “You must be wondering: why is someone leaving London to move to Athens?” The other: “We could also speak German, but English is easier for me.” With this, a lot of biographical information about this fashion designer has been clarified, and at the same time some questions arise: about the meaning and value of a career, for example, what really comes after you have done it as one of hundreds of talented people and create a name for yourself with your own creative work.And what charisma the typical fashion cities – that is, Paris, Milan, London and New York – still have in times of digital networking.
Schwab lived the dream of young designers
At any rate, Schwab, now 44 years old, lived the dream of many young creative people for years. He was born in Athens to a Greek father and an Austrian father. At the age of 15, the family moved to Salzburg. After graduating from high school, he went to Berlin, studied fashion design and eventually completed his studies in London in 2003 at the renowned Central Saint Martins University of the Arts. He must have seen himself in goal, as after just two more years he was able to establish a brand in the city that bore his name and within a short time became one of the city’s well-known brands. It was in the zeros.
In retrospect, it becomes clear that Mario Schwab’s fashion was ahead of its time with his designs that flowed almost like the ancient Greeks. Beauty ideals and unrealistic body ideas circulated then as they are now, but in 2005 no one talked about body positivity and similar fashion adapting to humans instead of the other way around. Instead, most women wore the same skirt length that ended somewhere just above the knee, and the same jeans – skinny. Schwab’s fashion deviated from this, was more flexible. Despite this – or precisely because of it – he was able to serve a loyal clientele.
Schwab also spent the 1990s as a fashion designer in London. He kept his own brand until 2015, after which things calmed down. At one point, he went to university and taught fashion design. Also advised other major fashion houses. Designed swimwear.
Back to the roots
Now in the 1920s, the fashion designer is done with London, this city which, when he talks about it in the period between Brexit and Corona, has lost its energy, but which of course is still the place where people from all over the world meet. and have the chance to make something out of their own history. Schwab now lives in Athens and works as the creative director of a currently little known label called Zeus + Dione, which uses Greek craft techniques to create new designs. Schwab puts it this way: “Maybe I would find my way back to my own roots.” But one can also ask: Is this a new beginning? Or failure?
You do not have to talk yourself into Athens
Because Athens, no need to sugarcoat it, is far removed from all that fashion once stood for, as Mario Schwab also remembers it. Back then from his time as a young designer in London. If the British capital allows people to live out their individuality and maybe even design a business model based on it, then this is especially true for the fashion designers who work there. Schwab also received early support, for example from the British Fashion Council. In this context, he was also named “Best New Designer”.
“We designers,” he adds, “but also admired each other at the time and traveled together to show the world what British fashion can be and what place it has in the luxury market.” The protagonists of the time before and at the beginning of the financial crisis, from today’s perspective, there were a striking number of men, named Gareth Pugh, Christopher Kane, Richard Nicoll – and Mario’s Schwab. In 2008, Schwab designed for the clothing giant Topshop, which stylistically marked the era with its discount products, and in 2009 signed a contract as chief designer at Halston in New York. “The shows, the Kate Moss people, these are formative memories,” Schwab says today.