For Town & Country Editor-in-Chief Stellene Volandes, modern luxury is all about feeling special, for some it could be an exotic trip, for others a precious piece of jewelry. What is also special is the way she has kept the 174-year-old magazine at the forefront of the current zeitgeist by approaching high society with discernment and intelligence. With a Master’s degree in English and Comparative Literature from Columbia University and prior experience at Vogue and Departures, and as jewellery and style editor at T&C, not to mention a genuine love for print magazines, she couldn’t be more qualified for the magazine’s top spot. Born and raised in Brooklyn, Stellene is a proud New Yorker but she’s also a passionate traveller with a soft spot for Greece where her family hails from. In fact, it was during her family’s annual trips to Greece during her childhood, a tradition she has kept as an adult, when her passion for jewelry was born at a Lalaounis boutique in Athens. Her girly passion has since grown into professional expertise, with numerous articles under her belt as well as two glamorously insightful books: ‘Jeweler: Masters and Mavericks of Modern Design’, published by Rizzoli in 2016, and ‘Jewels That Made History: 101 Stones, Myths, and Legends’ coming out in October. We recently caught up with Stellene to ask her about her home city, her inspirations, and the things closer to her heart.
How would you define yourself in three words?
Occasionally impatient, sometimes stubborn, fiercely loyal. In other words: classic Leo!
A project/initiative you’re most proud of?
Each year Town & Country hosts a Philanthropy Summit where we bring together the world’s greatest thinkers and givers to discuss how we can all work to make the world better. I am never prouder to be a part of T&C’s history than on that day.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
New York, in good times and tough times. I have been in the city throughout the current crisis and, even without the museums and the theatre that I love, I have found inspiration in the beauty of the parks, the streets and the people. And I will be here when everything opens back up too!
Which art/design/style icons you are most inspired by?
Women like Nancy Cunard and Melina Mercouri who had a strong sense of style and even stronger convictions.
Which colours are you currently enamoured of?
I must confess that I’ve been obsessing about Greek blue seas.
A timeless design piece you own?
The first Lalaounis ring I bought in that little store they had in the Athens Hilton.
What’s an accessory you had for ages?
A leopard print clutch from Aerin that I wear almost every day.
What item in your closet do you wear the most?
A pair of Maria Cornejo cropped black pants with either a white blouse from Cos or a Dries Van Noten jacket.
The beauty product you can’t live without?
Chantecaille foundation and lip gloss, Biologique Recherche P50 (the one that helps pigmentation) and Dr. Macrene Alexiades secret serum!
Three Instagram accounts you check daily?
@whowhatwhit @davidnettosays @somewhereiwouldliketolive
Favourite destination and hotel?
As soon as I can I will be back at the Four Seasons Astir Palace in Athens.
What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve done in your life?
Fly into a diamond mine!
What do you miss most when travelling?
My nieces! And New York diner coffee.
Which city would you chose to live in if you had to move?
The second I land in Athens I feel at home.
What souvenirs would you bring back home?
Evil eye jewellery from the stalls at Monastiraki and from greats like Ileana Makri and Elena Votsi. Also, antique Greek island textiles from Martinos Art.
Your latest discovery?
I am a martini drinker, but recently I’ve been enjoying a classic negroni
The Sargent gallery and the Winslow Homer room at the Met, the first floor of the Benaki, and that hallway with the Ingres portrait at the Frick.
What is on your bookshelf?
The galleys of my next jewellery book out in October!
What quote do you live by?
Don’t talk about it, just do it. It’s a paraphrase of a line in Arthur Miller’s Death of Salesman that I quote all the time.