It is a custom in Greece to welcome the New Year with the cutting of the traditional Greek New Year’s Pie (“Vasilopita”). This year Lakis Gavalas, a well-known and controversial Greek fashion designer whose work is internationally recognized, paid a visit to FNF Greece’s annual Vasilopita event and shared his thoughts on freedom and the arts.
Gavalas recounted that since the beginning of his career he wanted to free himself of social boundaries. “I always desired to express my own art, style and perspective without limitations. In retrospective, this was the secret of my success”, he noted. Creating fashion was his way to express his inner self: “For me, freedom is like a white canvas: it will not change its color by itself regardless of how long you stare at it, but still it can liberate the artist’s spirit and serve as a background to express him- or herself.”
Gavalas stated that “freedom is a human right, but nobody should take it for granted. In this sense,” he continued, “freedom is also a conquest because we have to fight for it every day.” In his own unique attitude, he added that a free man expresses himself no matter what others think of it. “For me, the biggest freedom is to be nude and needing no other clothes than my soft skin.”
In a more contemplative tone, Gavalas also spoke about the time he spent in jail for tax evasion after his business empire collapsed during the Greek crisis. “During those 15 months in jail, the deprivation of my personal freedoms was the toughest thing to cope with. As an individual I want to express myself in any way possible. To be prohibited to do so only made me more aware of how important freedom for me really is.”
With populism on the rise again, it needs courageous people who speak up and defend individual freedoms and the freedom of expression. “Therefore, I was thrilled to have the chance to share a message of optimism among so many young people”, Gavalas concluded. “This period of financial turmoil gives us all a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to refocus and make the changes that will propel us forward.”
Pictures: FNF Greece