Stavros Melissinos in his sandal workshop

Stavros Melissinos was born on September 10th, 1929, on 6 Poikilis St, in Plaka, the old quarter of Athens. He comes from the Cretan branch of the historic Melissinos Family that fled Crete, sometime in the 17th century. They first moved to the islands of Naxos and Tinos and by the end of the 18th century, they had settled in Athens.

He is the father of the current owner Pantelis Melissinos – poet, artist and alumnus of the famous Parsons School of Design – often referred to as “Poet Sandal Maker to the Stars” due to his family’s celebrity clientele.



His grandfather, Stavros and his grandmother, Saphira -chandlers by trade- sold 19th century sailing ship supplies.

In 1920, their son Georgios, Stavros’ father set up his shoe factory. Their other son, Panagiotis, established MELCO, a large-scale icebox industry. This earned him a state medal for his exceptional achievements in the field of industry. He was also a financial supporter of Eleftherios Venizelos, who was prime minister of Greece at the time. Another son, Emanuel Melissinos left for the States and died there.  Their 4th son, Michael Melissinos wanted to follow a writing career but died in action, during the First World War. There were also three sisters: Theano, Ekaterina and Basilica.

Stavros Melissinos and his wife Sophia dancing in the 70s



Stavros Melissinos wanted to be a film director but his ambitions were thwarted after his father’s untimely death, in 1954.

His maternal side of the family were descendants of the celebrated Greek War of Independence general Demos Tselios Ferentino. Demos Tselios -besides being from Missolonghi- was also a contemporary and a comrade in arms of Lord Byron, the illustrious poet, who died for the Greek Cause of Independence, in Missolonghi, on the 19th of April, 1824. Stavros Melissinos’ mother though died when he was still a toddler and his father remarried to Marianthy Akrithakis, aunt of the famous Greek artist Alexis Akrithakis. His stepmother inspired the love of poetry in him, by teaching him the works of 17th century Cretan poet Vitsentzos Kornaros.

After high school, Stavros Melissinos, served as an officer in the Greek army. There he started writing his first love poems, whose recipient was his future wife Sophia. Sophia hailed from a Chian business family of Odessa that had repatriated to the island of Chios because of the unstable political situation in Russia. She grew up in an art-loving cosmopolitan environment – she was the niece of world-famous French designer Jean Dessès.

Around 1954, Savros quit the army and started studying cinema at the Stavrakos School, in Athens, but, as mentioned earlier, he had to abandon all his future plans due to his father’s death.



Pantelis Melissinos & famous American comedian Bob Saget

Stavros Melissinos was meant to start the Ancient Greek Sandal trend, in the 50’s, when an English choreographer asked him for a few pairs of Ancient Greek Sandals for her dancers, like the ones his father used to make for the National Theater of Greece.

In the beginning he refused but Sophia, his business-oriented wife, reminded him of the political and economic chaos in post-World War II Greece and because it was really hard to live on poetry, he finally accepted. He made six pairs for that lady and some extra ones, which he put in his store window. That was that, the rest is history!



The first post-war American tourists and especially the young girlfriends or wives of the US army men, stationed in Greece, loved them so much that they started buying them like hotcakes. They, and the celebrities that started pouring in, were the ones that made him, by word of mouth, famous around the world. Stavros Melissinos was now the legendary Poet Sandal Maker of Athens, the man who was selling sandals to the likes of Sophia Loren, Maria Callas, Jackie O, The Beatles, Rudolf Nureyev, Anthony Quinn and countless others.

When he was still running the sandal workshop he also found the time to write plays and publish books of poetry, which he used to offer to the literati, the students and the celebrities, who visited him. His most famous book is “The Athenian Rubaiyat”


The demons live in Hades, the angels in the Skies,

There’s joy and laughter up above -below anguished cries;

And since we’re between those two, unseen but mighty powers,

Get drunk on life to beat the lows and feel the highs!

Quatrain from Stavros Melissinos “ATHENIAN RUBAIYAT” – Athens 1959Translated into English by his son Pantelis Melissinos

A rain of wine, a rain of wine from heaven’s dome

Should drown the South and Northern Poles and I, alone,

All caught in this maniacal red wine deluge

Will call the demons, angels, while I drink, at home.

Quatrain from Stavros Melissinos “ATHENIAN RUBAIYAT” – Athens 1959Translated into English by his son Pantelis Melissinos


During the 2004 Athens Olympics, Stavros Melissinos was evicted, after 84 years, from his father’s 1920 sandal workshop, in Monastiraki . After moving to a new  workshop in Psirri, he passed the business onto his son Pantelis Melissinos, the current owner of Melissinos Art – The Poet Sandal Maker.

In November 2019, after almost 100 years (and before the 2020 Centennial Anniversary of the historic workshop) Pantelis Melissinos moved his famous sandal business to a place he owns, in the Acropolis Museum area aka “Acropolis” or Makrygianni (Makriyianni), in the historic center of Athens.