Does Greece need a new edition of Vogue? The news that Condé Nast would relaunch a Greek-language reboot of the so-called “bible of fashion” certainly caught many here off-guard. And that’s probably no surprise. After all, the decade-long financial woes here wiped out a quarter of the economy and pole-axed the country’s media industry, with magazine sales dropping more than 50 per cent in the first few years of the crisis. Launched in 2002, Vogue Hellas shuttered in 2012 after its parent company went bankrupt. But even if it had survived, most of its moneyed readers had left town, anyway: in the wake of the crisis, much of Greece’s private wealth upped and left (in 2015 alone, 9 per cent of Athens’ 22,000 millionaires defected). So here’s the question: is Vogue’s return this spring a harbinger of Greece’s creative and economic bounce-back?
Well, yes and no. Without a doubt, many Greeks are still struggling thanks to a mix of low incomes (down 30 per cent since 2008) and high taxes. Even so, signs of a rebound are out there. The motor of the Greek economy, tourism, is booming: more than 33 million visitors in 2018 with more expected this year (Santorini has said it’s so busy it will cap the number of cruise-trippers this year). In Athens, the number of new restaurants also signals a return to happier times. As does the success of designer boutiques like Bohbo. Owner Mandica Iljic told me Vogue’s return is actually long overdue and will likely be a boon to the local design scene. “Vogue always attracts higher fashion standards so its relaunch will definitely be a positive here.” Others agree. And say that, in fact, the economic crisis actually helped to stimulate the capital’s creative scene. “The main reason why I think launching Vogue is perfect right now: the boom of new design talent in Athens,” says Mariaflora P Lehec, creative director of Greece-based Somf Clothing. “It reminds me of early millennium London in terms of creativity.” Even so, with Condé Nast making serious losses worldwide, the reboot is still a risk. But by no means as big as it might’ve been, reckons new editor Thaleia Karafyllidou. “Recovery is still slow. But it’s happening. The trend is positive.”