“I’d never seen anywhere more beautiful than Greece.The photographer Richard Avedon cast me alongside Jeanloup Sieff for this American Vogue story called ‘The Shrimp at Sea’. A good play on my nickname! We set sail from Athens, heading onto the Cyclades islands aboard the world’s largest and most glamorous yacht, the Creole, which was then owned by Stavros Niarchos. It was an eight-day trip, which felt more like a holiday than work: mornings were spent exploring and shooting whatever island we docked at, followed by a swim in the many deserted coves, and then long lunches.
The most unchanged of all Greek islands is Delos; it’s an archaeological site with classical ruins dating back to 900BC and an avenue of lion statues dedicated to Apollo. On our trip, we made a lot of other expeditions to beautiful sites: the Heraion of Samos and the Caryatids at the Acropolis in Athens. Avedon photographed Jeanloup and me mainly in Santorini and Mykonos – part of the Cyclades, which are beyond picture-perfect with their whitewashed villages, reflecting light to make everything feel like it’s lit by a 90w bulb, even in October when we shot the story.
For me, the enduring appeal of Greece is the diversity of the islands. My favorite, after the Cyclades, is Corfu, which is surprisingly green and leafy; in fact, it seems as if every inch of the island is covered with trees. Even when your eye becomes accustomed to the landscape, you cannot stop reeling at the sheer number of olive trees, planted by the Venetians centuries ago. I go back to Corfu at least three or four times a year, and always make the pilgrimage to my favorite Kalami Beach Taverna, which overlooks the islet-speckled straits towards Albania.”
OUR ISLAND-HOPPING GUIDE
Aristotle Onassis’ legendary yacht, Christina O, was a floating Xanadu where Hollywood stars and European royalty swept down the onyx and silver staircase to swim in a bronze-edged pool that at the touch of a button became a dance floor. Now, this iconic charter, which sleeps 34, is available through Cecil Wright, who will create a Cyclades itinerary taking in Athens, Poros, Hydra, Syros and Mykonos.
The elegant Katikies Santorini hotel is the kind of place you have to visit at least once in your life. Laid out across the Oia hillside, the chic minimal design and myriad of infinity pools overlooking the Caldera have earned it the accolade of being Santorini’s number one hotel for marriage proposals. The hotel group is also set to raise the glamor stakes over on Mykonos at the end of June, with the opening of a new outpost on Agios Ioannis beach.
Luc Besson’s cult classic The Big Blue was a cinematic ode to Amorgos, the eastern-most island of the Cyclades that is still rarely visited. Explore it on foot with Paths of Greece, a new initiative that is developing networks of hiking trails all over Greece. On Amorgos, the trails are known as ‘blue paths’, because it’s possible to see the sea wherever you turn.
The atmospheric and evocative ruins of Butrint in Albania are one of the most dramatically situated and unspoiled archaeological sites in the Mediterranean. Just a short boat trip from Corfu Town via the Albanian port of Saranda, you can kayak past Cold War submarine-base tunnels, swim by abandoned forts and hike through deserted wooded paths.
The people featured in this story are not associated with NET-A-PORTER and do not endorse it or the products shown.