For decades when we wanted to meet for a shopping spree we’d just say: “See you at the square?” and our friends knew we were talking about Kolonaki Square. This was the pre-mall, pre-crisis era, when every rented square meter there was gold, when Greek designers, fashion representatives, international chains and jewelers set up tasteful windows that were nothing like we’d seen before, creating a microcosm that made us think of Knightsbridge, Sloane Street and Saint-Germain-des-Pres.
On Kolonaki’s streets, Patriarchou Ioakeim, Anagnostopoulou, Tsakaloff, Haritos, Skoufa, especially on a Saturday at midday, we knew we’d run into friends and acquaintances – this was before cell phones made their appearance. We’d see the ladies with hair coiffed in a ‘60s style, smelling of hairspray, carrying their toy poodles, dressed in skirt suits and high heels with matching purses, stepping out of Angelos Coiffures (14 Kolonaki Square), ordering ballerina pumps in all the different hues from Lemisios (6 Lykavitou) or tailor-made evening dresses from Atelier Loukia (24 Kanari) and shirts with embroidered cufflinks for their husbands from Christakis (5 Kriezotou).
Today, all these establishments have thankfully survived – not to say that Kolonaki hasn’t changed. It has become more open-minded, less elitist. Jewelry stores like Apriati (29 Pindarou) and Ileana Makri (13-15 Patriarchou Ioakeim) have appeared alongside all-time favorites like Fanourakis (23 Patriarchou Ioakeim). In Ileana Makri, you can also buy the much talked about hand-crafted leather bags by Callista Crafts.
You will also find everyday wear and accessories at boutiques that bring together different brands to create their own individual identity, such as Free Shop (50 Voukourestiou & Tsakaloff), carrying everything from Balenciaga to ancient Greek sandals. Designers’ work is flown straight from Paris, Milan, New York and London to Luisa (15 Skoufa), Sotris Boutique (41 Voukourestiou & Tsakaloff) and Μah Jong (14 Kanari). If it’s global brands you’re after, you’ll find those too: Chanel at Linea Piu (6 Sekeri), Prada (17 Voukourestiou) and Tod’s (13 Voukourestiou).
Made-in-Greece beauty and spa products are sold by Apivita (6 Solonos) and at Graffito (34-36 Solonos), and great gift items at Philos Athens (32 Solonos). And let’s not forget the Greek designers doing amazing work: Αtelier Dassios (35 Vassilisis Sofias), Deux Hommes (18 Kanari), Vassilis Zoulias (4 Academias) and Yiorgos Eleftheriades (29 Tsakaloff & Voukourestiou). Last but not least, there are the shops of the Museum of Cycladic Art (4 Neofytou Douka) and the Benaki Museum (1 Koumbari & Vassilisis Sofias), for inspired t-shirts, jewelry and gift items that just shout “Greece.” Or maybe they’re whispering: “See you at the square?”