During the worst of Greece’s financial crisis, when many talented professionals were fleeing the country, Dimitra Kolotoura and Mareva Grabowski decided to double down on their homeland. “In the summer of 2011, we were at my house in Syros talking about how shameful it was to see this brilliant ancient place plastered on the cover of newspapers around the world, and Greeks being criticized for their laziness,” Kolotoura remembers. “So we thought, why don’t we do something to prove that Greeks are hardworking?’ It was a romantic reaction to what was happening.”
As it turns out, the duo’s idealistic impulse had a very tangible outcome: Zeus + Dione, a lifestyle brand that champions traditional Greek craftsmanship while taking a modern approach to design. Their asymmetrical wrapped dresses, structural swimwear, and geometric sandals look worthy of a 21st-century Helen of Troy. But besides beautiful lines, what sets Zeus + Dione’s collection apart is the exquisiteness of the fabrics and details, made by highly skilled artisans in areas like Soufli, a town in the northeast with a centuries-old heritage of making silk, and Pomakohoria, a rural area near the Rhodope Mountains where local women excel in the art of macramé. “People are fascinated by Greek history and architecture and everything that has to do with the past, and yet so many crafts were being forgotten,” Grabowski says. After quitting their respective careers in marketing and finance, the duo embarked on a country-wide journey in search of talented hands, eventually gathering a group of makers who are the heart and soul of the thriving brand.
This month, Zeus + Dione makes its New York Fashion Week debut with the opening of a permanent showroom at High Alchemy, a multiline space. Up next: a Paris flagship store. Their brand may be going global, but Kolotoura and Grabowski wouldn’t trade Athens for the world. “No other place has so much history in one specific spot, and that by itself gives off an incredible energy,” Grabowski says, noting the city is currently experiencing a wave of optimism and creativity. “Even in the darkest moments, this is an amazing place.”
DIMITRA KOLOTOURA AND MAREVA GRABOWSKI’S GUIDE TO ATHENS
Cycladic Café at the Cycladic Museum
Anytime we have a business lunch, we come to this place. The menu is incredibly fresh, but the best part is the setting. The space has this beautiful vertical garden juxtaposed with a floating sculpture wall. It’s clean and modern, but still very Greek.
We love walking around Psirri, where our office is located. The area has become a new creative hub and has a mix of old and new Greece, from old-fashioned artisan workshops and small hidden alleys to new restaurants and shops. It’s the perfect place to get lost and explore. One of our favorite places to eat is Nikitas, a cozy little tavern serving simple food with colorful tables and chairs on the sidewalk. Set within the main square, Nancy’s Sweet Home is the most amazing homemade dessert place.
We’re always on the go, so coffee is a must! Our favorite place is Tailor-Made in Agia Irini square. The shop itself has a cool and calming vibe, but more importantly their selection of coffee and tea is unbeatable.
Hotel Grande Bretagne
We never pass up a chance to have dinner here. The food is fantastic, and the uninterrupted views of the Acropolis, Lycabettus Hill, and the Parliament are unparalleled. Also, their boutique, GB Corner Shop, stocks our collection!
We’re both very much into art and often visit different exhibitions or galleries around Greece. Rebecca Camhi has thought-provoking exhibitions by international artists that always leave us feeling inspired.
This beautiful historic gallery and concept store on Kriezotou Street is a wonderful place to discover new artists and shop for design objects and furniture. The owners have another space, in Kolonaki Square, dedicated to exhibiting the work of Greek contemporary artists.
Between work and our families, we often don’t have time to go out at night and enjoy a drink, but when we do we go to Noel. The cocktails are some of the best in the city, which is probably why this has become such a popular hangout.
We love this shop on Skoufa Street in Kolonaki. They have a well-selected mix of designers such as Saint Laurent, Valentino, Marni, and Alaïa.
Forget Me Not
We hardly ever leave without buying something at this concept shop in the neighborhood of Plaka near the Acropolis. The selection stands out from the other stores in the area.