She’s the creative force behind so many exciting new fashion brands – nurturing their talent and guiding their growth from behind the scenes – and a woman known throughout the industry for her unique, joyful and enviable sense of style.
Ms Kastani might just be the loveliest, most positive force in fashion right now. She has made it her mission to help dreamers navigate the notoriously tricky industry with her thriving sales and communications agency, Kastani. And she brings so much energy to her work, it’s impossible not to feel good in her presence.
When we arrive at her London home, Maria opens the door all calm and fresh-faced. Her lovely home is organised, welcoming, and full of pops of colour. It’s eclectic without being cluttered. Everything is considered and loved, with a story that relates to her travels, or from designers she has befriended or admired. For us, her wardrobe is a masterclass in how to make a statement with a handful of beautifully made pieces, all of which had to earn a place in this well ordered closet.
“I love a tidy wardrobe – I function a lot better when I can see what’s in it. I rotate in winter and summer, although I keep a few warmer options throughout the year (light cashmere cardigans, scarves and jumpers). I try not to buy things that aren’t necessary, or that I don’t absolutely love.”
“These Miu Miu platforms are one of my most loved pairs of shoes. I bought them years ago from the brand’s at-the-time small boutique on New Bond Street. They must be over 12 years old now. Although terribly high, they are so comfortable. I have had so much fun in them. Still do!”
“As a little girl I was mesmerised by my mum’s jewellery box and would try everything on. I dreamt of having my own treasures when I grew up. I love buying jewellery when I travel – it reminds me of beautiful moments spent with loved ones. Fortunately, I also have talented friends who are jewellery designers. I keep everything in small boxes, so things are easier to find.”
“It was love at first sight when I met Günes (Mutlu), the creative force behind accessories label Mehry Mu, three years ago. We talked about our love of jewellery, the Mediterranean, family values and all things kind and beautiful. It was inevitable we would work together. She established the brand over 10 years ago in Turkey, and together we have built it into one of the most sought after, must-have names.”
“My style is effortless, vibrant and feminine. Although I like seeing black on others, I personally feel very strange dressed all in black – it’s very non-Maria. Dresses are definitely my signature.”
“One of my favourite dresses is by Evi Grintela, a friend and designer I hugely admire. It combines my love of red, lace and all things feminine, and feels divine on. Under Kastani, we have successfully built the brand internationally in less than three seasons and have great plans for its future.”
“Manolo Blahnik is the shoe master and a truly amazing man. Passion, dedication and beauty define him, and his creations are utterly beautiful. I wear my red Hangisi flats during the day with trousers and a T-shirt, and in the evening too. They add tonnes of magic to everything I put on. I call them the red fairy shoes.”
“I love fine-bone China. This tea set and the dessert plates are part of a dinner service I bought 20 years ago from Royal Albert. We use it every day! The candlestick is from Puglia, and the vase and butterfly plate are Versace. The blue elongated pair of earrings are by my friend Racil, while the flowery and round crystal pairs are from Ninon.”
“This Murano green glass ring by Legge & Braine is my happiest ring. I bought the pink quartz stone in India and Solange Azagury-Partridge set it for me. Apart from my wedding ring, I also have two rings on my pinky I hardly ever take off: a rose gold snake by QiSha and a blue lapis lazuli eye by Katerina Makriyianni. As for bangles, I pile them up 30 at a time and change them depending on my mood.”
“I really take care of my shoes so they last. I keep them in boxes, and rotate winter to summer. I resole them when needed, as I can’t stand the sound of a worn heel, and always stuff them with white paper so they keep their shape. Right now, I like the feminine direction Chloe Gosselin is taking, and the sharpness and modernity of Neous.”
“These backless loafers were a fabulous sales bargain! I was looking for a white pair of slippers two years ago and found them in Selfridges. I love that you can’t really tell where they’re from. The charm doll was by my dear friend Mira Mikati, who collaborated with Mr, the Japanese artist, last year. They had an exhibition at Galerie Perrotinin Paris, and this doll was part of it in the form of a large sculpture.”
“Oliver Luehr and Thomas Bentzof Achtland are the duo behind this gorgeous jacket. Each strip of silk is dyed and embroidered by hand – exquisite craftsmanship by the most adorable boys. As for the earrings, Katerina Makriyianni designed them based on her mum’s original idea. She and I met five years ago and hatched a big plan. She’s like my little sister, full of colourful talent. It’s so easy working together.”
“The hand-woven eye, made by Tatiana Choremi, was given out as a gift to our guests at our daughter’s christening. It’s been on my wrist ever since. The gold bangles are from my mummy, my colourful enamel bracelets are by Halcyon Days, and the little star hidden underneath is by Yannis Sergakis and has been a constant for over 10 years.”
“I love flats, and this fun pair was a gift from my dear friend Natalia Barbieri at Bionda Castana. I love this colour combination, as it goes so well with all my colourful dresses and trousers. The raffia headband is from Melissa Del Bono and her accessories brand Born In The Sun. I always think of summer when I put it on.”
“I’ve been hanging things from this chandelier since day one, 13 years ago, when I bought my flat. I needed something different – a chandelier that looked French with a vibrant twist – so I started hanging designer packaging and ribbons from it, good luck charms from friends and family, and trinkets from my travels.”
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