Daphne Iliaki, is a Greek stylist who I have never met, but whom I really want to be friends with.
I discovered her as she's a friend, of my pal Chris Kontos, the photographer and founder of Kennedy Magazine.
I'm extremely greatful that through Chris and Daphne I came to see the beauty in the culture of contemporary Greece. Although many view it as a uniquely instagrammable vacation destination, the reality for everyday Greeks is life in a country that has suffered the extreme hardships of an EU regimented austerity. Cutbacks to services and taxation the likes of which very few countries have ever adhered to in modern history.
In what has felt like a hopeless situation for many young Greeks (with things unlikely to reach a state of 'normal' in their generation.) It's intriguing to see how even with limited access to resources, the overwhelming positive that shines through in Daphne's work.
Her eye is impeccable and something rather unique amongst her peers in the same generation.
Maybe the fact Greece with all its huge historic cultural importance tends to be underserved and under-recognized by the most of the West's contemporaries makes it in fact a hub that we really should be listening to more.
Daphne, tell me about Athens what is getting around your city like? Easy or hard? What is the feeling of the city? Is it fast-paced and aggressive? or easy going. Is it hard to navigate? Do people say hello? What would people not expect to find about Athens?
Athens is really easy going, and I guess its old-school feel is its charm, despite the "bloom" of new shops everywhere. You get to see a lot of people outdoor in cafés and tavernas enjoying the weather with great food. During the 60s a lot of the old remaining buildings were torn down and turned into apartment buildings without any actual city plan or design, so Athen's structure is pretty anarchistic making it an ugly-beautiful capital. People don't say hello on the streets but they are pretty friendly once you get to meet them. You wouldn't expect to find Anafiotika, which is a neighborhood under Acropolis that looks like an island.
What is your favorite street in Athens? If you had an hour to fill between appointments on this street, where do you go? What do you do there?
I have a lot of favourite streets in Athens, one is Irodou Attikou which is right next to the National Garden and it doesn't have a single shop but you can have a coffee inside the park and walk around, it's beautiful. Its also a 10-minute walk to one of my favourite sandwich and coffee places, Kostarelos in Patriarchou Ioakim street in Kolonaki. Another walk I would do if I had a spare hour would be from Mitropoleos street, I would make a left turn towards Adrianou street and Aggelou Vlachou and go through old rugs and traditional kilimia at my favourite antique shop in this corner and continue towards the Tower of the Winds and through Polignotou street, a walk between the Acropolis and Ancient Agora towards Dionisiou Areopagitou, this walk feels like an hour of meditation, you forget the sense of time.
How long would each place you visit on the street take?
Athens is a pretty small city, full of small hills but you can easily walk around each area. I would eat somewhere between Voulis & Nikis streets, a lot of organic and asian restaurants opened there in the last 5 years, with Dosirak ( aKorean-Japanese restaurant) being the oldest and my favourite and I would also add Le Greche for ice cream. When I'm in the mood for "Grandma's" style food I would go to Grateful restaurant in Kolonaki. This, for example, is a 10-minute uphill walk!
Do you have time to go somewhere else?
When I have time, I go to Vouliagmeni for a swim when the water temperature is appropriate which means at least from May until October, its a 20' minute drive from the centre of Athens and I would stop at Tasos bakery in Glyfada - they make the best cheese pie.
Do you walk between places?
I live in Psychiko which is the closest to the center north suburb of Athens (with no traffic its 10 minutes) so if I have work which means carrying or picking up a lot of clothes I usually take my car. But, for anything else, I mostly walk or take the underground.