Mareva Grabowski-Mitsotakis: the Greek prime minister’s wife talks personal taste
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My personal style signifier is my brooches. My collection started with the ones given to me by my mother, who received them from my grandmother and great-grandmother. I have some old Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels designs, and a series of butterfly brooches – old and new, some fine jewellery, others costume pieces. I tend to wear two combined, sometimes with an antique fob watch (I collect those, too). I pin them on my blazer, which is what I wear most of the time, over a white shirt, jeans, cargo pants or dresses.
The last thing I bought and loved is a 1920s backgammon set from an Athens antiques shop called Martinos. I play a lot of backgammon with my youngest daughter Dafni. This board has a traditional marquetry design and the colour of the wood is just beautiful. martinosart.gr
A recent “find” is Kross Coffee Roasters in the old town of Chania, in western Crete. My husband [the Greek prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis] is from Crete and we have a summer home there. This is where I go to get a coffee every morning when I am in town. It’s owned by true coffee lovers. It’s very tiny but not at all your typical Greek café – it reminds me of somewhere in Denmark.
The best book I’ve read in the past year is Who Owns History? by Geoffrey Robertson. It’s a very persuasive moral and legal argument as to why the Parthenon Marbles belong to Greece and should be permanently returned to the new Acropolis Museum.
The one artist whose work I would collect if I could is Mark Rothko. I have always been intrigued by the contrast between the brightness of his paintings and his personal struggles with depression.
The last items of clothing I added to my wardrobe were a jumpsuit by French brand ba&sh and a vintage kamizola shirt from a costume studio in Argos, in the Peloponnese. The jumpsuit is very much my everyday style – I wear them a lot. When I visited the White House, I wore a jumpsuit and so did Melania Trump. Both of us wearing jumpsuits made the day nicer. The shirt is inspired by the uniform of the Tsoliás, the soldiers that serve the Presidential Guard and watch over the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Athens. I bought it because the next Zeus+Dione collection is based on the 200th anniversary of Greek independence, which we will celebrate in 2021.
An unforgettable place I’ve travelled to in the past year is Zagori in the Epirus region – it’s one of the most mountainous areas of Greece and one of its best-kept secrets. It’s amazingly beautiful, with two national parks and a lush, soaring landscape of dramatic gorges and turquoise lakes. There are clifftop monasteries and charming mountain villages, and the hospitality is truly authentic. We stayed at Aristi Mountain Resort & Villas, in the woods above Aristi village. It’s so solitary, and the mountains are breathtaking. aristi.eu
And the best souvenir I’ve brought home is a Renaissance print by Albrecht Dürer, which I found in Beacon Hill, Boston. I’d been looking for this engraving, called Melencolia I, since I studied it at college – I went through a melancholia phase in my early 20s and really identified with it – but prints of it are quite rare. It depicts a pretty woman with her face resting on her hand, a magic square above her head and the sun shining brightly in the background. The 16th-century original is in The Met and this is, I think, an early-1800s reproduction.
The beauty treatment I swear by is the AquaGold Gold Fusion Facial, introduced by Costas Papageorgiou at Harrods’ Wellness Clinic. It uses a microneedling system to deliver a mixture of antioxidants, vitamins and amino acids to the skin. It’s my saviour for an instant glow. POA, harrods.com
My style icons range from Jane Birkin, Lauren Hutton and Phoebe Philo to Iris Apfel – all women with personality. The first three are a bit androgynous. Whatever Phoebe Philo has designed, I have loved; her clothes are stylish without being showy. Then there’s Iris Apfel. She’s 99 years old and she looks amazing. I love her combinations of colours and I would love to wear jewellery like she does. Her fearless style makes me feel good.
The best gift I’ve given recently is a pair of beautiful, multicoloured ceramic tumblers – a collaboration between Zeus+Dione and the artist Maritsa Travlos. All her inspiration comes from the sea – from sea urchins and fish to the silence of going swimming and snorkelling. She had an exhibition in the Benaki Museum three years ago and we asked her to create something for us. I gave a set of tumblers to Brigitte Macron. She put her pens in one; someone sent me an Instagram picture of it displayed on her desk.
And the best gift I’ve received is a baseball cap from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. It was given to me by my eldest daughter, Sofia, when I went to her graduation there last year. I love hats, mostly straw ones, but now I wear this one all the time. It’s sentimental as well as practical.
An indulgence I would never forgo is dark chocolate. The one I always buy is by the 180-year-old Greek brand Pavlidis. It’s called Ygeias, which means healthy. It’s great for an instant boost.
I have a collection of books and art, and apothecary mortars. I inherited my passion for collecting from my dad and my grandfather, who was a well-known art collector and a pharmacist – which is why I have the mortars, which date from 1710 right up to the early 1900s. My dad has a big collection and he gives one to me every six months.
I’ve recently realised that there’s no gadget I can’t do without.
An object I would never part with is my lucky charm necklace. It’s a gold chain by Ileana Makri, with small gifts from beloved people attached to it. There’s a cross and a Virgin Mary from my mother; a fish with an evil eye, from my best friend; and a charm with the inscription Je t’aime from my son, Konstantinos.
My favourite space in my house is the terrace. It’s covered in the plants that one would find in old Athenian gardens – lemon trees, olive trees and aromatic plants that tolerate the Athenian summer heat and drought. For me it’s a sensory landscape, evoking childhood memories.
My wellbeing guru is my Pilates instructor, Athina, at the Pilates Lab in Athens. I have been a loyal follower of her tutorials for 20 years. I come out of the studio with renewed energy, feeling as if I’ve had therapy for the soul. And for beauty, Dionisis is my colourist at Central Hair Studio, in the Athens district of Psyri. thepilateslab.gr/en; Central Hair Studio, +3021-0321 4319
If I didn’t live in Athens, I would live on the Cycladic island of Tinos. I have a summer house there, but I would happily stay there all year round. It is close to Mykonos, and it has beautiful villages and sandy beaches. But what draws me there is the energy. The island has a very specific light; there’s something mystical about it. And the food is great too.
If I weren’t doing what I do, I would be a cellist. I used to love seeing Yo-Yo Ma, one of my favourite cellists, at the Boston Symphony. I don’t play, but I love watching the movement. I also wanted to be an architect when I was younger, but I didn’t draw well so I just dropped out. That or a detective. I need a lot of lifetimes to do all the things I want to do.
This year, I’ve really come to appreciate the sense of solitude and sitting in one place. Quality time at home. I used to be on a plane every week – this year has made me wonder if all this travelling is really necessary.
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