The time: June, 17.

The place: the iconic Panathenaic Stadium (Kalimarmaro) in Athens.

The reason: the Dior cruise 2022 collection.

The event: an unprecedented gala fashion show to celebrate the magic and transmission of cultures”.

The house of Dior picked the capital of Greece for the presentation of its cruise 2022 collection.

On the company’s website, we read:

In the heart of the city dedicated to Athena, Maria Grazia Chiuri reinvents her genealogy and tweaks the codes – art lies not in the object created, but in one’s ability to create – such as the peplum. The goddess tunic, evoking marble and ancient statuary, is resolutely ethereal thanks to its fabrics and handmade pleats, a chiaroscuro in fluting.”

For Greece, the event was of extreme importance, showcased by the presence of the President of the Hellenic Republic, Katerina Sakellaropoulou, among the honored guests.

It is not just that the country is emerging from the pandemic crisis trying to restore tourism and the economy as a whole. Greece needs to send the message that it is open to new challenges.

It has been seventy years since the 1951 groundbreaking photo shoot at the Acropolis, again by the house of Dior.

For decades, the archaeological sites of Greece have been out of reach for any kind of private sector event. As places of national and global heritage they were (and largely still are) not to be used for personal or business publicity or profit.

This mindset has guided the decisions of the Central Archaeological Council (KAS).

The Central Archaeological Council is the highest advisory body on all matters pertaining to the protection of ancient monuments, archaeological sites and sites of exceptional historical or legendary importance in Greece.

Any event in such a site must get the “green light” by the KAS. Practically, it has been “mission impossible” until recently. Numerous applications by global fashion houses have been rejected in the past. Among them, the one of the Gucci house, asking to have a gala at the Acropolis.

“The special cultural character of the Acropolis monuments is not in line with such an event, as the Acropolis monuments are unique monuments and symbols of world heritage, UNESCO World Heritage Sites ” the KAS had decided.

Even the Dior gala at Kallimarmaro (and the updated photo shot at the Acropolis) have been subject to many restrictions and strict rules.

Now, the government of Greece wants to show things are changing.

Mary Katrantzou S/S 2020. Photography: Jason Lloyd-Evans

A start was made in Sounio, in October 2019. Fashion designer Mary Katrantzou presented her Spring Summer 20 collection at the Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion. She was the first designer ever permitted to do so.