Haute Couture on the Acropolis

January 2017: The Central Archaeological Council (KAS) has turned down a request from Gucci to hold a fashion show in front of the Parthenon, the most famous monument of the Acropolis of Athens.

Gucci’s proposal for the fashion show included the setting up of a runway in front of the Parthenon, on the “Sacred Way”; seats for an audience of 300 selected guests, among them Hollywood stars and fashion editors; a huge tent next to Erechtheion for the models to change clothes and have their hair and make-up done and a place available for a music accompaniment.

However, and despite the fact that Gucci was prepared to pay a sum rumored to be around $2 million, the Directorate for Antiquities that oversees the archaeological site of the Acropolis was reluctant about the idea from the very first moment, and KAS unanimously voted against it. They announced that: “The particular cultural character of the Acropolis monuments is inconsistent with this event, as these are unique monuments, world heritage symbols and Unesco World Heritage sites.” KAS also pointed out that, according to the law, the Parthenon is not a leasable asset.

I do agree, although perhaps KAS could have done with the cash, but I was amused to see the following picture in the paper today:

 

Photo by Jean-Pierre Pedrazzini (source: Kathimerini)
Photo by Jean-Pierre Pedrazzini (source: Kathimerini)

 

December 1951: Eight models in Christian Dior evening gowns photographed before the Erechtheion Temple of the Acropolis of Athens by Jean-Pierre Pedrazzini for French magazine Paris Match. A moment when fashion climbed upon the sacred rock, at a nostalgic time when Greece, emerging from war and struggle, was ready to forge its way forwards. A very different time from now.

40 thoughts on “Haute Couture on the Acropolis

  1. I think if they’d only wanted to do a Dior-style photo shoot, the Acropolis would not have minded showing its ancient but still beautiful face to the world as a fitting symbol of lasting glory in contrast with the ephemeral nature of fashion. But a whole three-ring circus with sound, lights, staging, seating and a large gaggle of rich women with no respect for antiquity doesn’t seem at all appropriate.

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  2. I would be willing to lend Gucci our island home for $2. Gosh I would be happy to do it for half that amount and I know that my grandmother, mother, aunt would approve. Maybe not Gucci though, they seemed to prefer Ferragamo………
    Why not a Greek designer and make a show for the Greek textile industry? As Fendi did for the Trevi fountain!

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  3. I think it was a bad idea on Gucci’s part. The models look ridiculous compared to the true beauties in the temple. I will be there in two weeks! This building impresses me more than any other and I can’t wait to see it again.

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  4. Somehow I see it both ways. Love the 60+ year-old photo of the Dior models. A little ‘less commercially’ with ‘some modifications’ remembering the words ‘tasteful’ and ‘respectful’ methinks this could have been a breath of fresh air. Heritage sites are being used in the modern world of today all the time: just limits have to be placed that the scenario does not become a ‘circus’ . . . the money could have been used on site: OMG, think of all the people who march across the premises every year anyways . . .

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    1. I totally agree. A “tasteful” and “respectful”, elegant fashion show would be an improvement on the hordes of noisy, often badly dressed, selfie-obsessed tourists who invade Heritage sites daily 🙂 From everything I’m reading, Greece could certainly use both the money and a PR reminder to the world of what it stood for in the past. In Rome some 10 years ago, Valentino held a lovely show and exhibit in our exquisite Ara Pacis monument…

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      1. Yes very. In many things I don’t like where modern media are leading us, but in this case the fact that a tasteful fashion show with strong background on art history could go globally mainstream I think is positive 🙂 Besides, even today papers are full of stories of Greek debt. Can your administrations really afford to stand on such …. “traditional” principles?

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  5. I believe in being respectful of original heritage sites and allowing the councils that have the best interests of these places hold sway over activities held at them. Gucci spending lots of money to make lots more money, and who knows what will be the next demand? Maybe they could rearrange a few of the columns to allow light to flow through at 2 pm for a film crew, or perhaps barbeques can be set up for hors d’oeuvres and wine tasting, or how about finger paint stations to see what pre-schoolers can do to enhance the place.

    I suggest a better solution would be a fashion show at a rented auditorium with the Parthenon viewed on screens in the background, courtesy video cams.

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  6. I think the Dior photo is lovely. I suspect the Gucci event would not have been anywhere near as tasteful or restrained. I’m trying to picture such an event at something like Stonehenge and it’s not a happy thought. It was a good decision to turn it down. There’s something about the way a country identifies with its ancient monuments that shouldn’t be messed with.

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  7. It’s an interesting issue, and I’m in two minds about it. There would have been some great perks if they had said yes. The publicity would have been amazing, and lots more tourists in Athens, which means lots more cash coming in, (apart from the 2m). And yes, hoards of tourists walk around the Acropolis anyway. I know we shouldn’t do it all for money, but there was no real harm in some Gucci fun. It would have made the Acropolis look even more like a timeless symbol.

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  8. I agree 100% with their decision to turn down Dior or any Dior for that matter. There is a limit to what money can and cannot buy. I would also agree that the cool 50’s photo of those models posing in front of the Erechthion have nothing to do with what the Dior of today would organise up there. Pure sacrilege if you ask me..!

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  9. Marina, I look forward to visiting your lovely country some day with all its beauty and history. Reading your posts has only made me more intent on visiting. Although, i think the 1951 photo of the young models and their flowing dresses quite beautiful against the historic stone background, I fully agree that creating a commercial shoot on that site would have bordered upon desecration. Kudos to KAS.

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