What makes a Mykonos muse? Here’s how the Aegean isle got hot

Coveting a new coffee table tome for the book shelf? Mykonos Muse by Lizy Manola documents the Greek party island's past and present through stunning photography, writes Nicola Moyne

Hailed as the ‘new Ibiza’ year in, year out, Mykonos – the whitewashed Aegean isle of the Cyclades – is as famed for its pulsing beach DJ sets and pinot-fuelled private-members’ yacht parties as it is for its dazzling limestone architecture perched high on the hilltops and traditional Greek culture. But delve through the archives and photographs from the past century – back when the island served simple fishing communities and as an off-the-grid hideout for the elite (including Greek art collector Antonis Benakis) – and you start to see how the changing faces of Mykonos have helped to shape its A-list-endorsed future.

Now, Assouline‘s new coffee-table tome Mykonos Muse by Lizy Manola is lifting the lid on the movers and shakers, both past and present, of Greece’s very own white isle – and every picture tells its own story. From childhood snapshots of art and design duo Alexandra and Lydia Economou (pictured above) to the textile workers and fishermen captured pre-glitterati, here’s our pick of the portraits and seascapes that have come to characterise the Mykonos muse.

Mykonos muses

A traditional Mykonian cattle boat with its four-legged cargo makes its way towards Rinia.

Mykonos muses

An aerial view of Panormos beach, where the jet set collide on parasol-shaded loungers.

mykonos muses

Over the years, the Mykonians have accepted unconventional newcomers to the island without passing judgement, but they have never forgotten their own customs and crafts, and keep their traditions alive despite the rising tide of modernisation. Above, Nicoletta Xidaki works at her loom in Little Venice, where she has been transforming threads into textiles for the past 60 years. The daughter of a farmer from Delos, Nicoletta learned to weave when she was nine years old and has never stopped. Since the ‘golden age’ of the 60s and 70s, demand for Mykonian textiles production has decreased and now Nicoletta mainly makes bags, shawls and scarves. However, sitting among her wooden shuttles and colourful weaves, she says it gives her great pleasure to keep the craft alive and pass her skills down to her daughter, who also enjoys preserving the trade.

mykonos muses

Greek shipping magnet Aristotle Onassis, playwright Jimmy O’Connor, businessman Alexander Onassis and Isidoros Mavridoglou, the former minister of shipping, pictured at a party together in the 1960s.

mykonos muses

The rustic bell tower in Ano Mera, a quiet village relatively untouched by the well-beaten tourist trail.

mykonos muses

Sunset vibes and DJ sets at the tourist hotspot, Alemagou beach bar.

mykonos muses

Life on the waves: Alexandra ‘Beaney’ Glankoff, Loukas Doukas, Vangelis Tsangaris, a friend, and Hilla Buchter (front) soaking up the sun whilst sailing to Delos in 1978.

Mykonos Muse

Mykonos Muse by Lizy Manola and published by Assouline (Assouline.com) is available to buy now.

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