In a crowded field of PRs who will happily cash your checks and take you nowhere, Matthew Zorpas walks the walk just as well as he talks the talk. “I see myself as the light on the painting,” he says of his almost religious commitment to wearing the clothing of only the cutting-edge rookie designers that he supports when he gets photographed everywhere for his impeccable street style. Noticeable yet distinguished in a contemporary interpretation of a white ruffled shirt and black high-waisted pant with suspenders, he is a new brand of PR – or maybe he hearkens back to the older model, when PR stood for “public relations”, not “pretentious relations”. For every giant like McQueen or Westwood there are dozens of young designers every bit as promising and talented as those established creators were when they were starting out. The next generation, Matthew feels, is hidden away in the dark, and he’s made it his mission and passion to shine some light on them. “ Like all great ideas, he never thought about it as a business, but a passion. “I thought, ‘Well I have this access, and these people don’t get any press.”
Matthew grew up in Cyprus, where he struggled with how conservative it was in terms of “sexual orientation, religion, fashion, work .. everything in Cyprus gives you identity. There are many boxes.” If he wore anything there like what that he wears in London, a city that has deemed him one of its best-dressed, he would be on the first page of the Cyprus newspaper – as a freak. And, despite the fact that he wears things like his Marios Alexander white shirt with bells, on him it is very toned down with Brick Lane vintage wing tips and jeans. Like the never-ending tension between the Greeks and the Turks, the hypocrisy and exclusivity is insidious. They say, ‘Love your brother, love your enemy as a brother. The weekend after, they’re praying for the soldiers to go and fight.” The morning Matthew was discharged from the army he got himself on the first plane to London.
In London, Matthew feels happily removed from the warring nationalities that he grew up with and that could never connect to each other. Instead, he revels in how the many nationalities, religions, backgrounds and mentalities thrive together. In the city that has accepted him, Matthew is able to help the plight of the new crop of fashion underdogs who you would never see if you opened up a magazine, only Versace and Dior. “At the end of the day,” he says, “I’m going to bed with a smile on my face. It doesn’t matter if I can’t pay my rent next month.”
The tattoo on Matthew’s arm reads, “Quis custodiet ipso custodes?”, a Latin saying meaning “Who will guard the guardsmen,” he explains. He had it done just before entering the army. It is every bit as apt, Matthew thinks, for journalists as it is for soldiers. “We are watching out for all these people. Who will watch us? … You can have a Parisian nose and a front-row seat, a Hermes bag and massive Louboutins,” he says, “But an attitude will always make you ugly. We don’t need attitude in fashion.”