Cruising through fabrics

Dior’s 2022 Cruise collection is inspired by both antiquity and the brand’s 1951 campaign, which was photographed on the Acropolis in Athens. The designer, Maria Grazia Chiuri not only drew on ancient – or presumably ancient – textiles and patterns but also featured mythical female figures on the garments. In this post, we will focus on three pieces from the collection which, set alongside ancient works of art, offer a glimpse into the world of ancient Greek fabrics.

The peplos, one of the most frequently depicted women’s costumes in ancient Greece, is evoked by many pieces in the collection. The rolled-back edge of the upper part, the apoptygma, could reach down to the waist or all the way to the hip line, hang freely or be tied with a belt at the waist or below the chest. (Apoptygma is a modern term, its ancient name is not known.)
The peplos could be made of wool or linen. The fabric, when spread out, formed a simple rectangle, without seams. There was no need for sewing because the garment was fastened simply by folding and a few pins.

The chiton was a staple piece of the female (and male) wardrobe, made of a thinner fabric than the peplos. Its lightness is often reflected in its depictions: the folds of the fabric are dense, and the outlines of the body not only stand out but are often visible under the garment. It is as if the chitons of Greek vases had come to life in some of Dior’s gently flowing, translucent, richly pleated pieces.

The figure of Arachne appears on one of the modern dresses in a way that is unlike any of her ancient representations. The image of the half-spider, half-female figure is a reference to her myth. One version of the story has it that she was an outstanding weaver, whose work was widely admired. But fame went to her head: she boasted that she could weave more beautifully than Pallas Athena. The goddess challenged the hubristic mortal to a weaving contest. Although Athena was herself impressed by what Arachne created, she tore the fabric, full of lifelike scenes, to shreds in punishment for the girl’s deference to the gods. The grief-stricken Arachne took her own life, but Athena took pity on her and brought her back to life in the form of a spider so she could weave day and night.

The new collection did not only evoke ancient costumes, but also ancient spaces: it was first presented in the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens. This marble stadium was constructed for the opening of the first modern Olympics, just above a hippodrome (racecourse) built in the 4th century BC. It takes its name from the ancient building, which was one of the venues of the great Panathenaic festival in Athens. Although the site of the fashion show evoked ancient sporting events, it was not athletes that the spectators got to see, but models.

Featured image: campaign photos of Dior collections from 1951 and 2021 (Source: twitter, © Ria Mort)

Photos in the post:
Dior Cruise 2022 Show, Look 1 (Source:
2. Marble statue of Eirene, ca. 14–68 AD. New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 06.311 / Public Domain
3. Dior Cruise 2022 Show, Look 4 (Source:
4. Athenian red-figure amphora, detail: Terpsichore, ca. 440 BC.  London, British Museum, 1847,0909.7 © The Trustees of the British Museum / CC BY-NC-SA 4.0
5. Dior Cruise 2022 Show, Look 65 (Source:
6. Detail of a black-figure lekythos with a weaving scene, ca. 550–530 BC. New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 31.11.10 / Public Domain
7. Campaign photo from the Dior cruise show in the Athenian Panathenaic Stadium (Source:

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