Cool caryatid Christian Dior Cruise 2022 in Athens
Christian Dior unveiled a caryatid Cruise 2022 collection in Athens on Thursday evening, metaphysical mode by its creative director, Maria Grazia Chiuri, unveiled inside the city’s giant Panathenaic Stadium.
Her opening look was a sporty goddess in a body stocking underneath the cage of a crinoline, finished with an extended train. Marching down the marble steps of the immense stadium, before an orchestra led by the London pianist Oliver Coates. Everything illuminated by flaming braziers and arc lights.
However, instead of a model, the opener turned out to be Ioanna Gika, the Los Angeles-based Greek artist, who had already collaborated with Chiuri on her 2018 Wild West cruise collection staged in the hills above LA. As fireflies smarmed around, Gika sang and recited a tone poem, to usher in the cast.
Chiuri’s concept was a brave one – blending active sport ideas with classic Grecian attire. Cerebral goddesses marching in sneakers and white chunky boots. Goddesses in techy fabric dresses, with draw strings; grommets and athletic silhouettes.
Dior’s divinities strolling along the giant athletic track in multiple modernist peplums; or technical fabric himations. In assemblages of perforated polyamide or plissé cashmere.
Hipster Hellenistic heroines – all the way to a brunette beauty in a white boxing robe paired with Chiuri’s latest Chic totes. The single most influential luxury bag of the past half decade.
Drone shots illustrated how the crafty lighting meant each model cast 50-meter-long shadows, in rather brilliant staging.
Though blessed with acute curiosity and highly developed cultural antennae, Chiuri is also very loyal. Her producer, hatter, casting, hair and makeup teams remained unchanged from previous shows. All of them in fine fettle.
Notably Stephen Jones, who visited the Benaki Museum in Athens, and maintained Chiuri’s tradition of working with skilled local artisans on all her cruise collections. The result was a series of great sea captain’s caps, worthy of any descendant of Ulysses, or Aristotle Onassis.
A telling fashion moment that also included sensational micro pearl-rimmed eyes from the ever resourceful make-up artist Peter Philips; and ever so faintly disheveled corn-row hairstyles from Guido Palau. Once again, Chiuri’s astute choice of cohorts create trends, as this collection will assuredly will.
Originally built in 330 BC, the stadium was also the site of the first modern Olympics in 1896, and of the Athens Olympics of 2004, the stadium has a capacity of 65,000. This evening, due to Covid, there were some 300 souls in the audience, though their very scarcity added to the sense of event.
As a teenager in Rome, born to a father from Puglia, the heel of Italy, Chiuri is by definition a child of Magna Grecia, the extended area in the Italian peninsula from its heel to its toe to Sicily that was colonized 2,500 years ago by Greeks.
Helping her to coolly revive antique ideas in this collection even as she subverted them with Breton fishermen striped tops; cunning matelassé black leather versions of fencing waistcoats; and very cool boyfriend’s white cabans. All told, power pop Marlene Dietrich.
Chiuri’s other big idea was playing on Giorgio De Chirico’s metaphysical painting, with its huge distances and empty vistas. An ideal setting for this excellent collection. One featuring bold dramatic dresses, featuring Pierre Ruffo’ bravura silhouette stencil sketches on sexy tunics. All the way to a silvery, shimmering, broken metallic, oft-kilter hounds-tooth finale of red carpet must-haves.
That said, despite her huge influence on contemporary fashion, the Roman-born Chiuri is still perhaps not a universally loved figure in Paris fashion circles. In part, this is precisely because she is such a major commercial success. There remains a tradition on French circles to adore a noble failure. The exact opposite of Chiuri.
One ended recalling the famous lines of poet William Butler Yeats about Helen, the greatest beauty of the Ancient World, in his sonnet No Second Troy.
"With a beauty like a tightened bow, a kind
That is not natural in an age like this,
Being high and solitary and most stern.
Why, what could she have done, being what she is?
Was there another Troy for her to burn?"
Fireworks burst out in the Athenian sky at the end. Phalanxes of models marched along the track, painted to look like chalk-stripe. Celebrating a gold-medal show and a gold-medal cruise collection.
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