Stefanos Zaousis

Stefanos Zaousis was born in Athens,Greece.

He studied graphic design at Vakalo art and design school in Athens and then moved to New York, where he studied history of fashion and fashion photography at Parsons school of design.

He lived in NY for seven years. During those years he worked as a NY fashion editor for Van magazine and a contributing fashion stylist for publications such as Vogue Italia, Vogue Spain, Vogue Sposa, Vogue Bambini, Vogue Hellas, Spanish Harpers Bazaar, L’Officiel, Jalouse, Amica, Surface, Sunday Telegraph and many more.

Since his return to Athens-Greece, he worked as a fashion stylist for most Greek publications.

Later he started working as a fashion photographer on various projects and he continues doing so until today, upon request.

He is currently a fashion editor for Identity Media and The Code magazine, a stylist for Attica DPS windows – the largest department store in Greece, while he is also working as an image consultant for Estee Lauder Greece.

In 1999 he was nominated for an award in Costume design for the cult movie “The attack of the giant Moussaka”  directed by Panos Koutras, which was released worldwide.

In 2014 he styled the coffee table book “Children of the light” by photographer Calliope, published by Skira.

Every time I see a work of yours published I feel I am watching part of a movie. (talk to me about the thinking behind it which differs every time)

I’m glad you say that because I really think cinematically. I am a film addict, I see everything from European films of independent cinema to American blockbusters which I adore. Most of all, I like the classic films of the old Hollywood and Cinecitta. There was glamour, atmosphere and good directing which are missing nowadays. The photography, the scenery and the costumes were unprecedented and far ahead of their time. Every such film is a source of inspiration for me and gives me countless ideas for creative projects. So every time I get a new project, I have infinite images in my mind inspired either by the cinema, art and other forms of spectacles, or by the street style. Very often the inspiration comes from all of these collectively because the contemporary fashion style requires a mix of varied images. Let me give you an example. Let’s say we’re doing a fashion shoot based on the 70’s denim. Immediately, images of spaghetti western films, from Charlie’s Angels, from the 20-year-old girls I saw a few days ago wearing jeans in the street, from the New York punk era, come to my mind. Then I think which part of all these can be applied in a stylistically modern way through the lens according to the trends of denim in the current season. So I slowly compose the idea in my mind. Then, in cooperation with the photographer, we decide on the location and the models we will use in the shoot. All of these play a very important part to achieve the end result. The hair and make-up complete the image of course. If any part of all these does not fit in it could easily ruin the photo shoot. The reverse can also happen, of course, one of these – or all together, if we are careful and a little lucky – can successfully launch a photo and at the same time differentiate it from any others, which is fundamentally the desired goal.

You get employed by a magazine or a designer for a photo shoot, let’s say. What are the necessary steps to completing the idea? (different cases and examples)

I think I have already answered the first part of your question. In addition I have to say that commercialism plays a major part nowadays, that is, the advertised clients in the magazine. Fulfilling the expectations of these clients in the fashion editorial is the primary responsibility of a fashion stylist. It is a great challenge to successfully achieve this for the client without losing the magic of photography. As you very well know advertisers are not only high end brands but also Greek or foreign companies with more commercial, diverse, even sometimes badly designed lines of clothes which need special mastery not only not to spoil the overall picture but instead to make it look considerably special. It is the so-called mix and match, the most demanding but at the same time rather exciting part of our work. This is something you either possess or not. Now as far as designers are concerned, things are completely different. In this case you have the finished product, that is, the current designer’s collection, and you rely on it to create something different. All other aspects, that is, photography, styling, make-up, hair, models and location have a “complementary” role but also it’s very important to give the product a more fashionable, fresh and different look. All designers need to reinvent themselves regardless of how well established they are. Here, countless designers worldwide have a modest or simply a very commercial product but with an excellent campaign or look book using a super model or a famous celebrity and as a result their collection can be successfully launched. The power of the social media and the image is enormous nowadays. On the other hand there are talented designers who get lost on the way simply because their product is not successfully promoted to the public or is non-existent in regards to marketing, signs of today I must say. At the same time I think that if someone is really talented and a good professional, then one will never disappear, it can simply take a little longer to get established.

Have you ever changed your idea at the last minute?

I do not change my ideas easily because I had thought of the concept long before the execution and the process needs proper planning and organization so that the whole group and the location are available on the same date. I have an obligation towards everyone, I can not behave irresponsibly. We’ve been able to change the location of the shoot at the last-minute due to unavailability or postpone the work due to bad weather but that’s about all. Usually in these cases we carry out the work a couple of days after.

Which project according to you was a great experience in your career?

It’s not only one but three great experiences that have changed my career. First of all the costumes and styling I created for Panos Koutras’ film “The Assault of the Giant Moussaka”. I was nominated for the homonymous prize at the Thessaloniki Film Festival and the film had an unexpected success abroad and a great impact and it was projected in various film theaters. I was so young at the time and was really overwhelmed and honored. Then it was the first photograph I created for Vogue with my close friend and internationally renowned photographer Calliope in New York. I was over the moon after that. Having my work published in the Italian Conde Nast magazines which I included in my CV really helped my career to take off. And thirdly, of course, all the experience in New York where I lived for nearly seven years. There I learned what it means to be formal at appointments, to work with top professionals in the field, to experiment with your creativity without limits.

When we hear your name, we think about jobs that are related to the stylistic work you undertake.You have also developed two other talents. Photography and window dressing. Talk to me about both of these and your experience for each one of them.

I simply adore fashion photography, I see it as a natural evolution of my work. I think I have a great understanding for the picture frame and the set up after so much experience in the field. Unfortunately I do not have enough time to practice as much as I would like to, due to the fact that I have a lot of work as a stylist. Ideally I should give up all the rest and practice photography everyday to be completely satisfied with myself, rather an impossible task at the moment considering the amount of work I have. Nevertheless I continue to photograph some selective work that I’m convinced I can do well. The window dressing happened accidentally in 2005 when they were looking for a stylist at Attica department store. At the beginning I said yes tentatively because it was something I did not know much about, dressing mannequins. It turned out to be one of the best decisions I have taken in my career though, being a very creative team work, I am very proud for all the compliments I get from everyone, and I consider the people who work there as my extended family now.

We see the results of your visual aesthetics. Which other sense is vital for you and how do you fulfill this?

Touch. I like to close my eyes and feel the different fabrics of the garments, water, snow, my dog’s silky coat, the human skin.

Holidays are probably the most beautiful moments that we all remember about. Talk to me about your own best ever that you enjoyed the most and at the same time satisfied most of your senses.

My soul finds serenity on the mountains. I can think of nothing better than being at my house in Pelion or in Metsovo, drizzling outside, watching the rain drops on the tree leaves, sipping hot coffee in front of the fireplace, enjoying absolute peace and quiet. The mountains and nature in those places soothe me, offering me a sense of fulfillment.

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