An interview with Leto Lama, the mastermind behind Cyclades, on legacy, artistry, and so much more
Words by Maria Repouskou
I have always loved a good scarf. I think I got this from my mama.
A stylish woman herself, she used to always wear scarves around her neck. She even had a separate drawer for them on her dresser and growing up I loved putting my hands in there just because the silk was so soft! When I was a teen and experimenting with fashion and different styles, I found myself going through the drawer once again. I asked my mother where this obsession came from and she replied naturally that a good scarf is the best accessory a smart woman can wear. Elaborating her fashion manifesto, she told me that a good, silk scarf can elevate any style or help you down wear a fancier one. It is less expensive than jewellery but more luxurious than faux ones.
I came across Cyclades as a brand via Feather Shop in Psychiko. Angeliki, the owner, has a keen – the keenest if I may say – eye on spotting new Greek brands and has always supported Greek designers. It was a moment I wanted an emoji with spiral eyes! I instantly recognised great quality of silk and wondrous patterns. Playful, colourful, Grecian, bold – a real statement in a small piece of fabric.
Leto Lama, the mastermind behind Cyclades is a young, creative artist and designer, based in London, with great artistic heritage found in her family tree. She has a way of toying with mythology while also keeping an eye to the present. That contemporary twist is not always the case with Greek designers, as some occasionally get trapped on the resort-wear context. What you get when buying a Cyclades scarf is timeless luxury. And that has no season. In or Out doesn’t affect a scarf. It is always in!
Leto doesn’t limit herself to scarves as the brand also carries an amazing collection of sarongs, twillys, and gorgeous ties (hi, men or non-femme identifying folks, these are for YOU too!). Twillys are a real eye candy! You can wear them around your wrist, tie them on your purse or channel some girly vibes with a beautiful bow using them as a headband. Cyclades encourages women to wear their scarves in many ways by regularly posting visual content with ideas and how-tos. In an era where women are afraid to wear the same thing, where outfits are being documented on social media and countless articles are being written supporting a woman’s right to wear the same thing again and again, I believe this to be a very interesting, direct way of saying be creative and playful with what you already have!
How did you decide to start Cyclades?
It all happened very naturally. I am a big fan of silk scarves as it’s the only accessory that I wear in different ways summer and winter. I was looking to buy something new, but I couldn’t find anything that I liked and because I am painting and drawing I thought why not try and design something for myself.
After a lot of research, I made the first prototype and friends as well strangers started asking me where I got this scarf. I thought that this is a good sign to try and design more pieces which led me into making a collection of scarves and launching Cyclades as a brand.
Your brand name Cyclades is a bit self-explanatory, but what about the spiral sign?
The spiral sign was used a lot by my grandmother Gianna Persaki as part of her signature on her ceramic pieces since 1948. She used to sign her ceramic works with Cyclades and the spiral logo. The logo is actually a simplified snail and the spiral symbol was used widely by Ancient Greek Artists and Architects on pottery and in architecture. It also symbolises energy, rebirth and life.
Why scarves? How did you decide to focus on that particular accessory?
One further reason why I love the scarves as an accessory is that they do make excellent gifts. Often, when someone close to me had a birthday and I did not know what to get them, I was always ended up buying an accessory especially scarves as they are one size and are less personal and costly than handbags.
Mythology aside, what other sources of inspiration one can find in your designs?
For sure some elements from ancient & modern art as I am drawn into painting and I love history and generally all types of art, so I try to travel and visit museums and quality exhibitions as much as possible.
What is the next step for Cyclades?
We are at a very interesting stage, there are several things that are happening every day which is exciting. There are many steps that we are taking this year to grow more but our priority is to keep the quality high and reach different parts of the world. To that end, coming September we will be showing the new collection at Tranoi in Paris, a world-class fashion show which takes place at Carousel du Louvre during Paris fashion week. We also have some interesting collaborations that are going to happen, starting first with a unique and extremely stylish hat collection that will be also presented at Tranoi show.