Friday 18th June

| BY Claudia Croft

Dior: Cruise 2022

A goddess descended the steps of the soaring marble stands of the Panathenaic Stadium, in Athens. Built in 330BC, it has hosted sporting events since antiquity but never a fashion show. Maria Grazia Chiuri brought together many threads for her spectacular Dior Cruise show. Channelling the Olympic spirit and honouring the ancient birthplace of western art and culture, she filled the stadium with modern goddesses, wearing a mix of practical sportswear and ethereal gowns.

“We are doing fashion for now, not for the past and not for the future, but about now. After the pandemic — though we’re not completely out of it yet — we want to move,” Chiuri said of her look – a modern blend of Nike, the goddess victory and Nike, the sports brand. The leggings, sports bags, foil jackets and distinctive trainers with semi-transparent uppers, are part of a new range called Dior Vibe which keys into the demand for sporty performance and comfort.

Chiuri was presenting the first major live fashion show, with an audience since the pandemic and it was clear she wanted to make a major statement. Everything about the show was epic. From the ancient venue to the 185m long catwalk lit by 20 vast bowls of fire, the sweeping searchlights and the soaring voice of Greek singer Ioanna Gika and her 55-piece live orchestra.

As part of her research for this collection, Chiuri studied the worship of female divinities. She visited archaeological sites, including the ruins of the palace of Knossos in Crete and the Oracle of Delphi. Her women, striding, confidently through the stadium, looked suitably powerful and noble. The sports/couture mix infused every look. Draped peplos-style dresses were athleticised with popper seams and gathered goddess gowns, worn over pearl-studded onesies, were paired with trainers. The show closed with a startling feather swan gown, not a reference to Björk, but inspired by a photo of Marlene Dietrich disguised as the Greek mythological figure, Leda.

Chiuri also worked with local artists and artisans. Silk Line, a factory, using traditional weaving techniques, gave Dior’s signature stripe and houndstooth motifs an authentic Greek flavour. Family-run Atelier Tsalavoutas made the fishermen’s caps worn with striped tops and shorts and the tailor Aristeidis Tzonevraki fashioned a Bar Jacket entirely from embroidery. As Chiuri took her bow, the Athens sky lit up with fireworks. Fashion was back with a bang.

Photography courtesy of Dior.