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Paros

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Paros is one of the gems of the Cyclades, a group of islands that makes up the Greek islands. The Cyclades are my favourite collection with their white washed domes, pebbled streets and of course crystal clear hidden away beaches. It’s normally an annual trip for me to visit Mykonos, one of my most treasured summer spots on earth, but this year I yearned to discover somewhere new.

Myself and two of my closest friends made the trip to Paros from Athens. We took the four hour boat from Rafina, a little port not far from Athens airport (and a stone’s throw from my family house which is convenient) Rafina is a much easier option than Pireaus as its a much smaller port but of course does not offer boat services to all the islands (it currently serves Andros, Tinos, Mykonos, Paros, IOS, Naxos and Santorini) We jumped on at 7am and arrived at a leisurely 11am, the perfect time to make the most of our first day.
Where to stay?
We made it to Paros and hopped in a taxi to our hotel in Naoussa. In Paros there are two main towns – Parikia and Naoussa. Parikia is known to be slightly quieter than its neighbour Naoussa, so we opted for the spot with a bit more partying, hehe. Our home for the three nights was Hotel Papadakis which I cannot recommend enough. At just €100 per night for a triple room it is more than affordable but more importantly boasts beautiful Cycladic architecture. I really wanted to show my friends what staying on the Greek islands was all about and this hotel was exactly what I had in mind. I must add though that it is on a bit of hill so not the best option for the elderly (or if you love high heels haha) but it’s stunning nevertheless.
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What to do?
The first thing we did after checking in was to jump on the pool bar and grab an ice-cold Frappé – a Greek iced coffee. Summer isn’t complete without one of those. We decided to find our bearings in the town so took stroll down to the little port at the front. What a stunning gem that was – I can never get over how picturesque the Cyclade towns are with their rickety boats and winding streets. You can find the most beautiful handmade jewellery, local fashion and of course, food that is out of this world. If you are after those bright white shots of the towns without too many people milling about, then head down around 1pm when people are at the beach – be aware though, you will get beautiful shots but you’ll probably melt!
There are a few beaches on the islands I would recommend. We spent a couple of afternoons on Santa Maria beach which is fab and has a gorgeous beach restaurant and bar with fresh fish and lunch snacks. If it’s a windy day it’s always good to ask the locals which beach is best, as you’ll want to find that one that is shielded from the wind that day depending on its direction. Kolimbithres is another little gem and easily accessible from Naoussa and then of course there is Punda beach, the party beach.  All the towns have buses in the center which take you to the different beach spots, they are cheap but get quickly full so try and be there a few minutes before schedule!

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Where to eat, drink & party?

Greek food as you might know is delicious, especially when its good, fresh, local produce. Naoussa has a bunch of different spots for delicious food – below are some of my favourites:

  • Yemeni – Handsdown best spot in Naoussa. This is a small taverna which does incredible traditional Greek food with a twist. Make sure you get booking because it fills up really quickly.
  • Mario’s – This is right in the harbour which is totally buzzing at night. It’s amazing you’ll see people still eating at 2am in the morning, that’s a real Greek summer, no one sleeps!! They have fabulous fresh fish and awesome pasta. Be ready to wait for a table for a little while, the crazy waiters have got the serving down to an art so it will be worth the wait!
  • Barbarossa – We didn’t get chance to try the food here but have heard its amazing. A little bit more pricey, this would be your upmarket choice. Again it does brilliant seafood and local dishes.

Next up are the drinks. In Greece cocktails are never that light, so get ready for a bombshell of alcohol. They are delicious though. Our favourite spot for a pre-dinner tipple was the Panorama bar. It overlooks the little port and has beautiful views of the sunset. All the bars along the front of the port are also great little spots for a glass of wine or a dessert if you fancy.

Last, but not least, is the partying. After about 2am the town comes alive. All the young Greeks working on the island for the summer finish up their shift and get to the bars, the tourists are waiting for a boogie and the clubs finally open. There is a mini collection of bars next to each other which hilariously work in a domino effect. Earlier in the evening you start at Babarossa then you move to Agosta and finally for the 4am-ers who still want a party, they can move to Come Back. We lasted pretty late most nights and did enjoy a couple of sunrises – but what is a Greek summer without a beautiful sunrise?

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Jo Malone

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What a pleasure it was to shoot for Jo Malone, a wonderful British brand with so much heritage and, of course, delicious scents. I had the opportunity to photograph some of the key pieces of their current collection in the stunning Royal Suite at the Corinthia… Now if that isn’t a shoot made in heaven, I don’t know what is.

As part of a collaboration with Nathan Rollinson, I spent a glorious afternoon surrounded by the most divine fragrances (my favourite is English Pear & Freesia), creams, and black and white boxes. Opening a Jo Malone box feels like Christmas, so there was a heck load of excitement seeing what the team had sent. It’s always a pleasure shooting brands I love in breathtaking locations, creating a story with the products in front of you. Our story, of course, was the connection of Jo Malone and London, and what better spot than in the iconic Corinthia hotel.

I shot these photographs in the 465m2 Royal Penthouse suite, which has an 180 degree view of the River Thames and all the best parts of the city. We got lost in the two-floor suite – sat at the 10-seat dining room table, explored the grand marble bathrooms and of course, relaxed on the terrace peering out to every part of London. Sometimes you wish you could capture every moment and memory and lock it away until you want to relive it again. I’m not sure when I’ll next get to live the penthouse life bathing in boxes of Jo Malone again, but what I do know is that I can take home a gorgeous candle, light it and relive that dreamy afternoon…

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SUMMER PHOTOGRAPHY ROUNDUP

London Fashion Blog Photographer

It’s been a busy summer season this year. I’m sure many of you have enjoyed glorious sun-kissed holidays to exotic places, summer is a season that’s truly hard to beat. I spent a fair share of my time abroad visiting family, travelling for work and of course spending time with friends. As a photographer, I do have to make the most of the beautiful weather we have here in London, so I was busy shooting throughout the summer months. Today I thought I’d share some of the things I got up to…

First stop is Matthew Williamson. I shoot often for this glamorous brand as I can’t seem to get enough of their gorgeous prints and flowing skirts. It’s my favourite thing to photograph fashion content for their website and social media accounts. Each season the collections get better and better, keeping me and camera constantly running back for more…

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Next stop is the first lovely lady on my bloggers list, Hayley Shephard. She hails all the way from Florida and got in touch to shoot for her blog Sequins & Things as she’ll be spending a few months over here in London! It’s so fabulous meeting and working with people from all over, especially ones you get along with straight away. We spent half of the session chatting – two girls with the same passion, fashion, I guess there is never enough to say!

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Next on the list is lovely Maya from FashionLollipop.com. I remember meeting her last year at fashion week and we clicked right away over our life in the Middle East (I grew up in Dubai and Maya is originally Iraqi). Her style, colours and smile are infectious, it’s always such a laugh on every shoot. Throughout the year we’ve shot a number of amazing projects, my favourite being the one below which I photographed for fine jewellery brand Plukka as a feature in arabic magazine Nawaghem…

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My personal style is feminine and classic, so I love working with brands that I feel reflect me. I photographed Needle & Thread a few months ago for their stand at the Quintessentially Weddings evening at the Dorchester Hotel. I am such a huge fan of how they bring together the intricacy of Indian embroidery and transform it to create these beautiful romantic pieces. If you are in need of bridesmaids dresses get to Needle & Thread

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How can I forget fabulous Joanne from The Stylist & The Wardrobe! She was one of the first bloggers I ever started photographing and we have been working together on a weekly basis since last May. I love her chic style, little blonde bob and ability to seek out the best fashion finds. It’s amazing where time goes, we’ve had so many hilarious “blogging” adventures at events, shoots… and with London Fashion Week around the corner who knows what’s in store!

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Lovely Anisa is another sweet blogger I shoot with. We have also been working together since last summer, which is crazy, and are now beginning some amazing brand collaborations together very soon. The shoot below was for Gestuz and I’m excited to tell you that we will be shooting a special piece for Pandora jewellery very soon… Watch this space!

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I’m a huge fan of Farfetch and their fantastic buys. This fashion-forward site feature the very best pieces of the designers they represent, so it’s fabulous to be able to shoot for such a respected name in the industry. Recently I’ve been working on some of their blogger projects and will hopefully be collaborating on some exciting stuff for LFW next week..

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Fran from the The Fashion Lift is another lovely blogger I’ve recently added to my books. This blonde buyer-turned-stylist has got so many amazing looks up her sleeve and we now shoot regularly for her weekly features in Good Housekeeping! So fun photographing such a stylish lady..

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Last but certainly not least is Mr. Rollinson, Nathan from The Rollinson London. The most fabulous of all male fashion bloggers, he has fantastic taste and loves a good afternoon tea. We have collaborated with some incredible brands this year, from hotel features (Mandarin Oriental, The Lanesborough, Four Seasons) to luxury beauty shoots (Tom Ford, Creme de la Mer, Guerlain, Jo Malone). Our latest project was a travel feature in Paris for Le Bristol hotel… Who knows what the next year will bring!

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London Travel Blogger Photographer

48 Hours in Geneva: Part II

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Happy September everyone! Today I’m taking you back to Geneva, to discover more wonderful parts of this beautiful city and complete my 48-hour trip. As some of you might have seen during the first 24-hours in the city, there is truly so much more to do than meets the eye. From roaming the streets of the old town to paragliding off a mountain, the diversity of experiences is second to none. Today’s tips are going to be a little more on my radar in the form of cute shopping districts, hot brunch spots and boat trips under the sun – if those sound like your sorts of things then do join my journey below…

C O L L I D I N G  R I V E R S

Following a delightful dinner at the La Riviera in the stunning Mandarin Oriental, we woke up fresh-faced and ready for a full day in the city. We began the day with a delicious breakfast al fresco, served by the friendliest staff and waited for our guide Pascal to arrive. First stop was actually a little detour. We wanted to see a unique geographical phenomenon that we had been told you can find only in Geneva. As you know, the city has two rivers, the river Arve hailing from the mountains and the other, the Rhone, comes from the sea, murky and grey. What we went to see was where the two rivers met. It was truly amazing – two rivers, one city, but so different, running parallel to each other… The pictures below say it all… isn’t the natural world so beautiful?

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S W I S S  M E E T S   I T A L I A N

After finishing up with our short geographical detour, it was time to hit the Italian quarter of the City: Le Carouge. Famous for it’s windy, colourful streets and cute shopping boutiques, this was my kind of area. We sampled the most delicious swiss chocolate at Philippe Pascoët and stopped to have a coffee in the local market with the sun kissing our cheeks. Italian with a Swiss-twist is the best way I could describe the area, it had the charm of Italy but the cleanliness and organization of Swizterland – which did make it quite picture perfect!

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S U N D A Y   B R U N C H I N’

The morning spent walking and discovering (and shopping) left us hungry for lunch. We decided to take a late bite in the most chic little lakeside hideout in the Eaux Vives district, Les Voiles. Think: white party St Tropez to give you an idea of what it was like (actually, think free-flowing Moët & Chandon and you get the picture). We opted for Le Brunch des Voiles, which was more than enough to share, but unknowingly had one each and spent the next couple of hours snoozing it off under the rays. Life by the lake really isn’t so bad, and what we did next confirmed that thought…

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S A I L   A W A Y

Our next adventure took us away from the safety of dry land and onto the Catamaran Terrasse, a beautiful boat available for private hire. We had a warm welcome of mojitos and snacks thanks to fantastic skipper Max and his lovely wife (and their adorable little doggy). As you can see from the photos, the day was stunning, however we were up against strong winds which meant we had to delay setting sail (and meant more time for mojitos!). Finally the air calmed and we made it out of the harbour, although it was a hilariously choppy ride – as you can see from the photos.. Let’s just say I was happy when we headed back toward the shore! So, so much fun and something I can’t recommend enough if you’re visiting the city on a beautiful summer’s day. Thanks again for having us, Catamaran Terrasse!

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S U N S E T  P I C N I C

To wrap up our beautiful day of adventures, it was time to chill out and watch the sun set over the perfectly blue sky. We took the short walk from the Eaux Vives port along the Quai Gustav Ador and made our way the Parc des Eaux Vives. This stunning lakeside manor is home to a wonderful terrace, a fabulous restaurant open to hosting weddings and of course, rich green grounds with amazing views. Only craving an evening snack, we went for their picnic in the park option. We each had a little lunchbox of delightful goodies, as well as a bottle of wine, so we could enjoy our light dinner as the sun went down. There couldn’t be a better way to finish off the day in this wonderful part of Switzerland…

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 T H A N K  Y O U  S W I S S A I R

A big thanks goes out to the team at Swiss Air and the Geneva Tourism Board for making this trip possible. I love travelling to new places and especially love being shown things to do off the beaten track, so I really hope all of these tips have inspired you on your next trip to Geneva!

**Don’t forget, you can get £25 off your next flight with Swiss Air using the code SWISSUK25FLIGHT16 – get flying!**

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Cashmere: The App

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I’ve always been a huge fan of luxury fashion houses. Partly for the beautiful things they create and partly for the heritage. I love the stories, traditions and passion that goes into the designs and craftsmanship. Of course, with all of these romantic ideas comes a price-tag, which can be out of reach for many of us. If, like me, you are also a believer in putting a little something aside each week to save for something special, you’ll be excited to find out about this new app soon to be launching which will help you do just that.

Cashmere is the app that all of us fashion-fiends have been waiting for. It encourages you to save just a little of your money in order to make the purchase of that special something. And I couldn’t think of anything better, I try to save as much as possible, but usually end up spending it on holidays and other fun things putting my dream handbag last on the list. Now I’ll have a bit more encouragement to remember to save a few pennies for the shoes I’ve been craving… I’m actually an ambassador for the app and they recently interviewed me as one of the Cashmere fashionistas – read more below if you fancy!

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CASHMERE APP: IN CONVERSATION WITH VICTORIA METAXAS

Tell us a bit about yourself

I’m half-English, half-Greek and grew up in Dubai, so I have a pretty international background.  After University, I embarked on a career in digital media, but knew my true passion lay in photography and fashion.  I decided to take part in a Fashion Photography course in Milan and spent some of the best six months there, learning Italian and discovering the beautiful country.  Following the course, I returned to London to work at the Net-A-Porter Studio.  Now if that wasn’t a jump right into the heart of the fashion world, I don’t know what is!  I remember the first day I started there, it felt like I was on set of ”The Devil Wears Prada”!  Last September, I decided to take the plunge and go full-time as a fashion and travel photographer, working with some of the biggest fashion bloggers in London.  And the rest is history!  I can say that the last six months have been the most exciting and interesting for me both as a photographer and blogger.  I can only imagine what the next six months will bring…

What got you into setting up your Fashion& Travel blog Aurora Stories and who are your biggest inspirations? 

I started a photography blog back in 2013 when I needed a space to showcase my work.  Over time this hobby turned into a real passion and following the fashion photography course I completed, I knew I wanted to take it further.  Last year, I decided my blog needed more of an identity and Aurora Stories was born.  I chose Aurora for its meaning of sunrise/light in the sky, so ultimately my blog is about stories of capturing the natural light around us.  There are a number of different people and things that inspire me.  I’m a big fan of the work created by bloggers Gary Pepper Girl and Margo & Me; I believe the stories and content they share go beyond just a photo.  It’s about all the planning, details and passion that you can see come through their work.  I hope my work evokes that same passion.

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How would you describe your style?

I would describe my style as classic and feminine. I’m all about warm tones and pastels, such as creams, camels, baby pinks, and so on.  I love putting together simple outfits with real statement pieces such as an interesting pair of shoes or a hat, for example.  I’m not a maximalist and not a fan of bright colours; it’s all about a classic look with an interesting little twist.

Where do you shop for accessories and clothes on a normal basis?

That’s a difficult question as I’m not one to stick to a specific store.  For basics, I love Zara; I think their elegant, simple designs are perfect for keeping your look sophisticated.  I have actually found myself shopping in Mango for a lot of accessories as well.  For shoes, I’m a huge fan of Aquazurra and LK Bennett. I love the feminine style that Kate Spade designs have.  For bags, Kate Spade create some beautiful pieces and of course, if you really want to splurge, you can’t go wrong with a cheeky purchase from Chloé or Prada.

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What’s the go-to fashion item in your closet that never fails to complete an outfit?

To really complete an outfit, I have to say I love a great hat. I think it takes your look one notch up and gives you that little sparkle to stand out of the crowd.

If you were given £1m to spend on clothes/accessories, what luxury stores would you splurge that cash in?

I would buy my dresses from Dolce & Gabbana, their Sicilian-inspired prints are to die for.  I’d splurge on bags from Saint Laurent and Prada.  Shoes would come from Aquazzura, Gianvito Rossi and Gucci.  Hats from Borsalino and Lock & Co Hatters.  I’d have to of course grab a trench from Burberry and a beautiful tailored blazer from Balmain.  My jewels would come from Cartier and luggage from Louis Vuitton.  I think by that point, none of the £1 million would be left!!

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What is one item of clothing you won’t be caught dead wearing?

I think more of a look than a piece. I really am not a fan of the oversized Scandi look that hit the streets last winter.  It was all about huge baggy tops, trousers and oversized coats, finished off with a pair of Stan Smiths.  I just felt the look wasn’t elegant in any way and was the total opposite of feminine.

Where do you look for style inspiration?

Shooting fashion bloggers for a living means I’m constantly aware of the latest trends.  I get a lot of inspiration from the girls I photograph, as well as other fashion blogs I follow, and of course Instagram.  You also can’t go wrong with checking out lookbooks of your favourite shops to get an idea of what’s hot this season.

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If you had to own one person’s wardrobe, whose would it be and why?

I think it would be Olivia Palermo. I think she dresses with such sophistication and effortless style.  Her outfits always perfectly compliment where she is, whether in Paris, New York, on holiday, at an event… her looks are always bang on!  I would love to have her wardrobe for the day!

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What luxury item are you currently lusting over right now?

I would love a pair of these fringe Gucci loafers – perfect height for walking around the city, but also keeping your look chic.  I also love these Aquazurra sandals – so gorgeous for your summer wardrobe!  Dolce & Gabbana have to be one of my all-time favourite brands.  I love the history and inspirations behind all their pieces.  This Sicilian-inspired dress is just the most amazing piece.  I also love this over-sized boater hat from Lock & Co Hatters

Once the Cashmere app is launched, what luxury items will you be saving for? 

Probably those pretty pink Gucci loafers. They will be the perfect accessory for this coming autumn.

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For fashion/travel inspiration, check out Victoria’s blog!

Follow Victoria on…
Instagram – @victoriametaxas
Twitter – @VictoriaMetaxas