Aristos Constantinou graduated from the London College of Fashion in 1965 worked for Mattli the Couturier in Mayfair before venturing out to start his own business. His father was a master tailor at 45 Carnaby Street, W1, gave him two rooms on the first floor and Aristos quickly converted the front room into a tiny shop and the rear room was his workshop where he designed, cut and made his first garments. His young brother Achilleas, who was still at school with his hippy friends painted the whole front entrance leading up to the first floor with a psychedelic splash of colours and the first Aristos Girls shop was born. Achilleas was the salesman and the company’s opening stock of 12 dresses were all sold on the first day. Aristos promptly ran down to Berwick Street market, Soho, with the money and bought more fabric and stayed up all night with his girlfriend stitching up more dresses for the next day. By the end of the week Aristos had already employed two more machinists to help and by the end of the following week there was a queue of girls waiting to get up to the first floor.
Aristos was a gifted designer whose remarkable talent shone at the heart of the British fashion revolution of the sixties. His couture training enabled him to create avant garde fashion previously unseen on the fashion scene. He soon opened his second shop called Blooshp at 45 Newburgh Street, W1, and shortly after his brother Achilleas graduated from university and joined him full time buyers of other retailers were approaching the brothers to be buy the original designs. The company was then renamed Ariella in 1971 and continued to open a third shop at 31 Carnaby Street, W1, then a further shops opened in the Carnaby Street area then two more on Oxford Street, W1, Duke Street opposite Selfridges and others in Laussanne, Switzerland and in Washington DC and Chicago USA.
The secret of the success was always the originality and excellence of feminine trend-setting designs. So much so that it has been said that Aristos was the first young British Designer to bring Couture to the high street. Working closely with a furnishings mill in Scotland, Aristos developed a new soft Chenille fabric exclusively for Ariella from which he created a range of coats, jackets and skirts in tone on tone stripes and planes. The whole range was a spectacular and stocked by every major retailer from Jane Norman, DH Evans, Dickens and Jones and numerous boutiques. His Chenille coat of the 70s was described as the London girl’s uniform.
His first design was a coat made of ruffia paper which promptly featured on a full page in the Daily Express. His velvet hipster miniskirts in luxurious colours and his black velvet trouser suit with imitation fox fur collar and triangular flairs on the trousers was worn by numerous celebrities and pop stars.
By 1985, when Aristos tragically died, the company had 11 retail outlets and over 300 wholesale accounts across the world.
His designs still live on today in the Ariella archive collections and are now being re-marketed as part of the current vintage fashion revival. His chiffon double layer dress which was one of the best sellers of the late 70s early 80s, was recently revived by Ariella exclusively for Laura Ashley and proved to be an even bigger seller today.