Honoring Dior‘s longstanding relationship with Greece, creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri presented the house’s Cruise 2022 collection in Athens tonight. The historic Panathenaic Stadium came alive as models in white suits, modernized peplos, athleisure pieces, and sneakers instead of heels took the runway. Some of the major highlights of the collection and the show are a result of Grazia Chiuri’s collaborative efforts with Greece’s local ateliers and craftsmen.
Read on for six things you must know about the contemporary-Grecian collection.
The collection harmonizes feminine Greek tradition and modern comfort
For Chiuri, research into materials, techniques, and production methods plays a major role. The designer rediscovered Greek civilization’s roots with a desire to recompose it with this collection, and began by rereading Greek mythology (the last time she had read it was in school). The goddess gown, or peplum, is an ethereal robe traditionally worn by women in ancient Greece, and it is a staple of the Italian designer’s collections. With its powerful visual allure, the garment embodies not just the feminine divine, but because its unconstructed, lazy lines deliver a sartorial materialization of freedom — its loosely draped and pleated folds convey that women must be free to live and to create as they choose. A notion of feminism has always been a point of convergence for her designs, starting with her debut SS17 collection, which included Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie‘s powerful words “We should all be feminists.”
Athleisure reigned supreme in the collection
Besides clothing that complements mobility, studded wristbands, metallic sneakers, and a new bowling bag were some of the many hard-to-miss elements of athleisure in the collection. Chiuri’s passion for wanting to create designs for the women of today shown through the collection, signaling that the future of post-pandemic fashion is not far from sportswear.
The Panathenaic Stadium in Athens is highly symbolic for Dior
Also known as Kallimármaro, loosely translating to “excellent-made marble,” the 4th-century iconic monument in the Greek capital bridges sport and culture, emblematic of antiquity and contemporary youth. Aptly named, it is the only stadium in the world built entirely of Pentelic marble, and is an essential, unifying feature of cultural life for all Athenians. Here, in ancient times, games in honor of the goddess Athena were held, and the attraction once accommodated up to 70,000 spectators. The stadium was buried for centuries, but was restored in the second half of the 19th century, preserved in its original beauty. The location is highly symbolic for Chiuri, not only through its connections to the body and freedom of movement she cherishes, but also through the motifs that inform the collection and its sportswear spirit.
Having received a green light from Greece’s top archaeological advisory body to have photoshoots in some of the country’s cherished ancient sites, such as the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, the Ancient Agora in Athens, the temple of Poseidon at Sounio and the temple of Zeus at Nemea, Dior presented the photographs from the shoot during the runway show. The collection was also modeled in Acropolis, paying homage to the maison’s 1951 photoshoot for the magazine Paris Match in the same location. Welcoming some 400 international guests to the stadium, Dior broadcasted the event live on social media, television and in public areas in Greece.
The show represented the work of local artisans
Characteristic of previous Dior Cruise presentations in Marrakesh, Morocco, and the town of Lecce in Puglia, Italy, Chiuri’s Cruise 2022 collection explored some of Greece’s own talent. Discovering and promoting traditions that are tied to places and families in Greece, some work of local artisans appeared on the Cruise catwalk. For instance, Aris Tzernovakis, a tailor and embroiderer with an atelier near Argos in the Peloponnese region in southern Greece, embroidered a jacket and a Dior Book Tote, with his unique method of structuring and embellishing dresses and accessories. Dior also invited Silk Line, a factory based in the town of Soufli that is renowned for its centuries-old silk industry. It perpetuated the traditional Greek silk weaving technique using a jacquard loom to weave the House’s iconic motifs, such as stripes and Hellenized houndstooth. Chiuri also reinterpreted family-run manufacturer Atelier Tsalavoutas’s iconic fisherman cap, a historic accessory worn by fishermen on the island of Hydra since the mid-19th century, for the Dior cruise 2022 show. She crowned it with a braid made by NE.M.A., an atelier that transmits traditional passementerie techniques.
Chiuri was inspired by 20th-century Greek artists and gallerists
She was also inspired by Giorgio De Chirico, a pioneer of Surrealism who drew on poignant memories of Greece to paint metaphysical places in chiaroscuro, or the contrast of light and shadow. The Creative Director then explored the universe of Alexander Iolas, the cosmopolitan gallery owner who preserved his close ties to Greece and his home in Athens. There, he assembled an incredible collection of vases decorated with the intertwined bodies of wrestlers. Giant close-ups of those silhouettes stand out in sketches by Italian Dior artist Pietro Ruffo, or are camouflaged on a selection of sportswear pieces.
The show was elevated with the talent of local musicians and technicians
Having already collaborated with Dior for the 2018 Cruise show designed by Chiuri, Greek musician Ioanna Gika, based in Los Angeles, performed a reading in the heart of the splendid stadium, lending her rich voice to a poem reflecting her ancient roots and offering an intensely emotional moment. Chiuri also discovered Athenian filmmaker Marianna Economou through her 2019 film When Tomatoes Met Wagner, and chose her to direct the video unveiling the Dior Cruise 2022 collection. Dior also gave carte blanche to ten Greek women photographers to shoot the cruise collection.