CALLIOPE: A RESTLESS SPIRIT
If we were asked to describe Kalliopi Karvouni, or Calliope as she is internationally known, with two words we would say that she is a “creative hurricane”. A free spirit constantly redefining herself without ever losing her personality. A fashion photographer for the most renowned magazines worldwide, mother of two adorable girls, owner of one of the most stylish stores in Athens. She has traveled the world and adores beauty and harmony which are evidently part of her DNA. In other words, a fully satisfied woman…
Sitting in her gorgeous living room, I observe her and our surroundings and once again I realize that she is a beauty with a unique personal style. All around us, the colors, furniture, objects and scents, all give out an exotic air, a cosmopolitan aura, just as she herself does.
Her restless spirit led her to the decision to leave Greece and go abroad at a young age: “In the beginning I went to London and then to Milan. It was there that by chance I met Franca Sozzani editor-in-chief of Vogue Italia, who loved my style. I got a job with Conde Nast, where I remained for several years. Franca, as well as her sister Carla, were my mentors. If Franca had not seen something different in me, especially when she was surrounded by the greatest fashion personalities, she would have thrown me out the following day!”.
Calliope started off as a stylist and worked with the greatest photographers of the time such as Herb Ritts, Bruce Weber, Neil Kirk. “I had a rough time in Milan at first. Photography evolved naturally from my job. I was driving Franca up the wall… For years I had been telling her that I wanted to be a photographer. Around that time, I went to New York and it was love at first sight. In the end Franca gave in to my incessant pleading and I moved to New York as the photographer for the Italian Conde Nast. In the beginning she gave me a job for Vogue Bambini and she was delighted with the result”, she remembers.
“I have photographed a number of celebrities, such as Angelina Jolie, Cameron Diaz, Liv Tyler, George Michael. I went to London for the making of Hunger, with David Bowie and Catherine Deneuve. Those were the best days of my life”
In 2009 Calliope decided to return to Greece permanently, mainly because of her family: “During the first year after giving birth to my girls, nine years ago and after great toil, I felt lost. I decided that it was time to go home, so that they could grow up like I did, with their whole family around them. I also missed my country. Don’t forget that I had been away thirty years”. While she was in New York, she decided to create a book dedicated to Greece, featuring traditional costumes from the Lyceum Club of Greek Women under the auspice of the Niarchos Foundation. Her second book, entitled “Children of the Light” by Skira Publishers, approaches Greece from a different view point. It is dedicated to Greek Beauty (Kallos). She decided not to shoot celebrities this time, but young people exuding the freshness of youth.
Next she opened an amazing store in Athens, which reflects her own personal style. She goes to India at least twice a year and has the clothes and accessories made there. For Greek women she believes that “unfortunately they don’t have a personal style. Greece is a small country on the periphery of the world of fashion and not at all cosmopolitan. In a metropolis the mingling races and cultures are a source of inspiration since they offer so many stimuli. Not to mention that we didn’t experience the Renaissance. It is no coincidence that the Italians are so well dressed”.
In the Spirit issue