Designer Caroline Constas may just have the best travel wardrobe ever. It helps that she gets to wear her own creations—all of which just so happens to be everything we'd want to bring our dreams of living our best-dressed vacation self to life, like breezy poplin pieces, off-the-shoulder dresses, and pretty tiered ruffled skirts. And that's the whole point. Her designs are intended to whisk you away to the beaches of Tulum or the history-rich streets of Athens.
So it makes sense that the New York-based designer would escape the hustle and bustle of the city and do the bulk of her travel-inspired designs abroad. With familial roots in Greece, Constas makes a pilgrimage to the country at least once a year to rejuvenate, to draw inspiration, and to sketch.
"Greece is something I look forward to every year. I usually go when I'm in the middle of the design process, because it's where I draw a lot of my inspiration," she tells InStyle. "As a child, my family would go back every summer, and on the long way over, I would sketch clothes that I'd imagine wearing, and my grandmother would create a version of it when I got there. That was the starting place and what I found came naturally to me: designing for a destination-type experience."
As her continual, lifelong source of inspiration, Greece, with its many islands and its many breathtaking views, delivered once again for her two-week trip this summer. "I'm excited I was able to finish most of my spring 2017 collection," she enthuses. "It's funny, because it literally looks like my suitcase—there's a little bit of everything."
Her packing strategy is about creating outfits as opposed to bringing completed ensembles. She brought dresses, white bottoms, gold strappy sandals, swimsuits, and "tons of poplins in different colored stripes and gingham." Lucky for us, she photo-documented her journey this time around. From sunsets during her stay on Folegandros island to a walk through Athens, scroll through for a glimpse of her trip to Greece. Warning: Brace yourself for a major case of wanderlust.
1. A View of the Sunset
"This was on Folegandros, and I'm wearing an all-white look from my resort collection for the first time," she says. "It's always exciting to wear something right before the season ships, so I know what I like about it, what I don't, what needs to be fixed, what needs to be tweaked."
2. An Evening Out on Folegandros Island
"I was on a tiny island called Folegandros and we were about to head out to the town for dinner," she says. "This red dress is called 'Carmen,' and it's an exclusive item I designed for Intermix (available this week). I'm wearing it with a tasseled Chloe purse and Oscar de la Renta earrings. I did get a lot of compliments—it's funny because every time I do wear something I designed, I do get a lot of inquiries, which I find very meaningful, because it means I'm creating something that's exciting to people."
3. En Route to the Beach
"This was on a cliff overlooking an unbelievably gorgeous beach on Milos island that you can only get to by climbing down a rope or by boat," Constas recalls. "When this was taken, I was deciding on how I was to get down. I'm wearing a Solid & Striped bikini from the Hilary Rhoda collaboration."
4. A Fishing Village on Milos Island
"This was a tiny fishing town that we went to. We were bouncing from one beach to the next, and this was a town we stopped in," Constas says. "It was very quaint and quiet—all locals. I love the boasts in the water and the contrast of the colors."
5. Surprise Sweets on Milos Island
"For whatever reason, Milos is a very hospitable island—literally after every meal, they bring you a surprise, and it's always something sweet," Constas says. "I wanted to document that, because it's very cute, like this baklava. I love surprises, I'm a big foodie, and I love sweets, so it was triple exciting for me."
6. A Local Swim Destination on Milos Island
"It's a calcium deposit and it's also quite a popular attraction for the locals," she says. "The water was beautiful."
7. Color Contrast on Milos Island
"These are stairs leading to a little house on a small street in the main town," she says. "I just love the blue. I find Socratic architecture and design to have a very specific detailed and thoughtful aesthetic to it. I loved how much attention is paid to detail, like how the base of the steps are painted blue. The contrast is so beautiful."
8. At the Farmers' Market in Glyfada, Athens
"This little market in a suburb of Athens is right by my home there. Every Thursday there's a Farmers' Market that has the best, freshest fish, vegetables, flowers, fruit, everything," she says. "I'm wearing a skirt and top I designed with a Dolce & Gabbana purse."
9. A Monastery in the Middle of Athens
"This is a monastery from the Byzantine era, and it's absolutely stunning from the outside, architecturally," she says. "It’s always been special to me because I see it every time I’m downtown. It's literally in the center of everything. I love that there are all these stores and then this thousand-year-old monastery."
10. A Snap of Athens' City Streets and the Acropolis
"This is the downtown area of Athens called Plaka. I took this after I found a factory where I'll be starting production on a new category (Constas is mum on the details, but she's hoping to introduce it next season)," she says. I wanted to take this picture because you can see the Acropolis at the top. I never get tired of being down there and realizing how old the city is and how well it's preserved. You have people going about their business and then there's this citadel that's been there for thousands of years."