Mon. Apr 22nd, 2024

Celia Kritharioti is Greece’s foremost fashion designer, whose elegantly sensual creations are among the most admired at Paris Couture Week, where they’re snapped up by the likes of Beyoncé, Nicole Kidman, Gwyneth Paltrow and Taylor Swift. Her husband, shipping tycoon Nikolas Tsakos, belongs to an illustrious maritime dynasty with origins in the mid-19th century. Together, they form one of Greece’s most powerful couples.

© MATTIA BETTINELLI

As dynamic as they are international, the pair move with their three children – Panagiotis, Irene and Elizabeth – between homes in New York, London, Gstaad and Uruguay. But infused in everything they do is a love of their country and, naturally, their home in Athens is a reflection of that, as well as of their achievements, talents and taste. 

Celia Kritharioti home in Greece with Parthenon in background and geometric print furniture on roof terrace© MATTIA BETTINELLI

Created by merging two historic buildings, it stands on a hillside with breathtaking views of the Rock of the Acropolis and, at its summit, the Parthenon. The inside of the neoclassical residence is hardly less impressive, sleek contemporary decor setting off a treasure trove of works by artists such as Picasso, Renoir and Monet.

When asked about her family’s devotion to beauty and culture, Celia has a simple explanation. “Here,” she says, “in a city where every corner breathes memories of a great ancient civilisation, naturally that inspires us.”

Celia Kritharioti living room cream sofa with yellow table © MATTIA BETTINELLI

Celia, tell us about your home’s location and history…

“It’s in the Plaka district, directly opposite the Odeon of Herodes Atticus amphitheatre. From our top-floor terrace, there’s an incredible view – the wonder of the Parthenon. 

Celia Kritharioti dining room with cream curtains and circular table and modern art© MATTIA BETTINELLI

“The house was created by architects Takis and Veta Tsoukala, who merged two buildings, bridging the difference in level between them. The style is neoclassical, as you can see from the clean, geometric lines and Doric details.”

How about the decor?

Celia Kritharioti living room with blue artwork gold framed painting and pink flowers© MATTIA BETTINELLI

“That’s the work of Veta Tsoukala, who learnt by working with the renowned British interiorist David Hicks.”

Do you have other homes in Greece?

Celia Kritharioti home view from kitchen of roof terrace© MATTIA BETTINELLI

“Yes, on the Aegean islands of Chios, where my husband’s family comes from, and Ios.”

You’ve been credited with the revival of Greek couture. How did you get involved in fashion?

Celia Kritharioti wearing black fitted maxi dress with white plunging bodice at home © MATTIA BETTINELLI

“It has always been part of my life. My mother’s passion for it influenced me, and in the early1980s, our family, who are businesspeople, acquired Tsouchlos, the oldest couture house in Athens, which dates back to 1906.

“As a child, I remember spending hours in the atelier, absorbed in watching the seamstresses at work and delighting in the colours and textures of the fabrics. I was taken regularly to Paris to see private shows at Chanel, Christian Dior and Yves Saint Laurent, and that’s when I learnt about the heritage of those historic houses.

Celia Kritharioti home with quirky coffee table and bronze sculpture lamp© MATTIA BETTINELLI

“What they possess isn’t just about knowledge – it’s a unique aesthetic and, above all, the art of making every woman feel truly exceptional.”

Paris is special to you, isn’t it?

Celia Kritharioti Greek designer pink kitchen with iced buns on table© MATTIA BETTINELLI

“It is. In 2017, I presented the first Celia Kritharioti Couture collection there. Since then, I’ve always shown at Couture Week and in summer 2018, although sadly she couldn’t be there, I fulfilled my dream of dedicating a Paris collection to my mother.”

When did you start designing?

Celia Kritharioti home kitchen with pink cabinets and Smeg appliances on display© MATTIA BETTINELLI

“As a teenager, I used to sketch clothes and ask the seamstresses in the atelier to make them up for me. Our clients liked them, which encouraged me.

“Later, while studying economics and business at university here, I decided to start designing collections for our family’s fashion house and I organised my first shows, inviting top models like Naomi Campbell, Iman, Claudia Schiffer and Gisele Bündchen.”

Celia Kritharioti wearing black mini dress with pink sleeves posing in pink kitchen© MATTIA BETTINELLI

Your shows are renowned for their spectacle…

“And I love putting them on! In the run-up, I work flat-out and I can’t eat or sleep for thinking about them. You don’t only need impeccable fashion, you also need the surprise factor: balloons that make a veil float, dancers, opera singers, trapeze artists…”

Celia Kritharioti home cream sofa with blue artwork and yellow coffee table© MATTIA BETTINELLI

At the moment, you also have a project going on in London…

“Yes. The Celia Kritharioti Limited Edition is an exclusive collaboration with Harrods, with a campaign starring the legendary Kate Moss.”

Celia Kritharioti home table decor and white flowers© MATTIA BETTINELLI

Nikolas, your family’s shipping empire is one of the world’s largest. What can you tell us about it?

“Our seafaring roots go back more than 150 years, to the island of Chios. These days, the Tsakos Group has around 100 vessels andTsakos Energy Navigation, which handles sea transportation of oil and petroleum, has just celebrated its 30th anniversary as a publicly listed company.”

Celia Kritharioti home office with beautiful wooden library© MATTIA BETTINELLI

You also have your own charitable foundation…

“The Maria Tsakos Foundation, named after my late sister, is dedicated to educating young people in maritime and other studies. We have long-running projects not only here in Greece, but also in Ghana and Uruguay.”

Celia Kritharioti home tech room © MATTIA BETTINELLI

Tell us about your own studies…

“I took a degree in economics and political science at Columbia University in New York. Then I did an MSc in shipping, trade and finance at City University in London, which, in 2011, awarded me an honorary doctorate for my pioneering work in shipping company finance.”

 Nikolas Tsakos posing in home office wearing navy suit© MATTIA BETTINELLI

Of course, Greeks have long reigned in the shipping world…

“Yes, in the same way that France excels in fashion, Italy in cuisine and Spain in football. Greece has been considered the Silicon Valley of shipping for centuries, accounting for more than 25% of world trade.”

Celia Kritharioti home in Greece with Parthenon in background and geometric print furniture on roof terrace© MATTIA BETTINELLI

“That’s an extraordinary feat for a country of less than 11 million people.”

PRODUCTION & TEXT: NANA BOTTAZZI

PHOTOS: MATTIA BETTINELLI

CLOTHES: CELIA KRITHARIOTI

JEWELLERY: CHANTECLER

FLOWERS: FABRIZIO COCCHI

Celia Kritharioti wearing red and blue dress with husband Nikolas Tsakos© MATTIA BETTINELLI

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