Fashion Designer Mary Katrantzou’s Greek Odyssey

Mon, 13 July 2020

A fashionable route from the Acropolis to the Aegean’s most coveted spots with fashion designer Mary Katrantzou.

When we think of Greece, our minds have a tendency to hop straight to island living. We picture the absurdly blue water of the Aegean Sea, the tumbling bougainvillea and, of course, blocks of salty, tangy, delicious feta consumed in a family-owned taverna by the water’s edge.

London-based designer Mary Katrantzou spent her youth summering amid similar scenes on the island of Spetses – her travel (and design) daydreams are similarly sunny. Cut to 2020 and the designer is tapping into her roots with the launch of Mary-Mare a size-inclusive collection inspired by sun-drenched, coastal destinations. Trompe l’œil prints of seashells, tropical flowers and enlarged vintage stamps feature prominently across the year-round, flirtatious capsule line, which encompasses sarongs and jazzy Supergas, palazzo pants and wrap skirts.

Before making tracks for the Greek archipelago (Polyaigos and Milos come highly recommended), Katrantzou suggests exploring Athens, home to the Acropolis and Katrantzou’s childhood abode.

Here’s why you should make an odyssey out of your next Grecian adventure…

Where should we start our explorations in Greece?

Visiting the Temple of Poseidon in Sounion.

Tell us five of your all-time favourite places in Greece…

The Athenian Riviera; Spetses island; Knossos in Crete; Meteora; and the Temple of Poseidon in Sounion.

How does Greek style influence your brand’s aesthetic?

The most important part of my Greek upbringing has been forming my thought process. I grew up around design, and the importance of ideas was instilled in me at an early age. Everything in my work revolves around an idea and that idea can only become innovation through hard work and a razor-sharp focus.

In my most recent collection, the pieces were each inspired by ideas that were born in Greece around the time the Temple of Poseidon was built – around 440 BCE. I think for every designer, formation is incredibly important in filtering the world around them.

You’re from Athens originally. What are some “musts” in the city?

Athens has incredible energy. I love Island, a club and restaurant with the most fantastic sea view and music. It’s owned by my dear friend Chrysanthos Panas who also owns my favourite city-centre lunch spot, Athénée.

Favourite city district?

Walk around Plaka.

How should we explore the city like a local?

Athens city centre is easily walkable, though you could rent a car too and end up at Cape Sounion to enjoy the sunset from the Temple of Poseidon, where our SS20 show took place. I recommend spending a weekend there at the beautiful Grecotel Cape Sounio Hotel. The ambience is magical.

What’s the city’s dress code?

Casual and colourful.

Where should we head for the best shopping?

Enny Monaco is a must; the owner Amalia has the most incredible eye for fashion. It’s my favourite boutique in Athens (and Mykonos). In the city centre, Attica department store is a great stop for gift shopping.

What about for a low-key lunch?

Enjoy lunch in the beautiful yard of The Albion in the Psychiko district. Kalamaki Kolonaki does amazing Greek souvlaki, while Ithaki in Vouliagmeni serves up great seafood and atmosphere.

For a taste of history head to…

Benaki Museum.

Great day trips from the city include…

Seeing the Oracle of Delphi.

Tell us about Mary-Mare and how it came about.

Mary-Mare is a biannual resort collection that will be available all year round. We designed it as a reaction to the relentless pace of fashion. We wanted to create a collection defined by joy and elegance, made from 100-per-cent natural materials and that offered an inclusive size range.

Where can we visit in Greece to see colours as bright as those found in your rainbow-hued designs?

Everywhere in Greece you will find bright colours! Santorini has an incredible palette – especially its famous sunset.

What key pieces do you pack when travelling?

I am obsessed with our new, limited-edition Superga collaboration as well as any of the Mary-Mare swimwear and cover-ups.

Most of your swimwear is named after the Greek islands. Which are your favourite?

I’ve spent my summers growing up in Spetses, so I love this island. You can take a walk around the old port and then stop at Orloff or Tarsanas for the most delicious fresh fish. Agia Paraskevi and Zogeria beach have brilliantly blue waters.

Last year, I had the chance to visit Polyaigos and Milos, and I was amazed by the natural beauty of the landscape in combination with crystal-clear waters

One island where you’ll only find locals…


The best Greek beach snack is…

A refreshing Greek salad.

A book to read before we go?

Victoria Hislop’s Cartes Postales from Greece.

What should we bring back as a souvenir?

A pair of handmade Ancient Greek Sandals.

You created the #WishWeWereThere hashtag – where in Greece do you wish you were right now?

Anywhere in Greece! There are so many places I’ve never had the chance to discover. Symi has been on my wishlist for years.

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