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Vintage cool: the style icons who put the Indian Ocean on the map

Constance Lémuria, Seychelles

Today the Indian Ocean attracts A-listers looking for luxury escape but it was the style icons of the 60s and 70s who blazed the trail.

Style icons: Nastassja Kinski

Style icons: Nastassja Kinski

Names like Brigitte Bardot, Catherine Deneuve and Nastassja Kinski have all been photographed on the region’s white sand beaches.

Although tourism at the time was limited to only a handful of hotels and transport was much more challenging, to the celebrities of the past, that was all part of the region’s appeal.

In Vogue

In an article for vice.com, celebrity photographer Harry Benson recalls travelling to the Seychelles in 1976 to photograph Nastassja Kinski for Vogue.

‘Nastassja Kinski and I met in the Seychelles Islands, one of the most beautiful places I have ever been… It was completely unspoiled. There was very little communication with the mainland as the one telephone in the hotel bar hardly ever worked. It was so casual that there was no need to dress. We spent the entire time in our bathing suits and t-shirts.’

Place to escape

At around the same time Mauritius was also developing a reputation as a stylish bolthole in the Indian Ocean. Despite there only being four hotels on the island in the 1970s, French celebrities such as Brigitte Bardot, Alain Delon and Catherine Deneuve were regular visitors.

In fact in 1972, when Bardot met and fell in love with the young French actor Laurent Vergez on the set of Don Juan, it was to Mauritius they fled after filming to escape the media attention.

Today the flights are direct, the hotels more luxurious and the phones to the mainland have been joined by the latest wifi technology but the elegant, exotic style that the glitterati of the past first uncovered still remains.

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