French fashion house Dior on Thursday returned to live audience shows with a firework-punctuated presentation of its 2022 Cruise collection in Athens at the Panathenaic stadium, site of the first modern Olympic Games.

Watched by celebrities including film star Catherine Deneuve, model Cara Delevingne and Queen's Gambit actress Anya Taylor Joy as well as Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou, the collection showcased designs inspired by antiquity and traditional Greek dress.

A general view of the Panathenaic Stadium ahead of the 2022 Dior Croisiere (Cruise) fashion show, in Athens.A general view of the Panathenaic Stadium ahead of the 2022 Dior Croisiere (Cruise) fashion show, in Athens.

Greek artisans whose work was featured in the collection included a tailor and embroiderer from Argos in the Peloponnese, a silk factory in the northeastern town of Soufli, and a maker of fisherman's caps from the port of Piraeus.

"I am very interested in the craftmanship. It's my passion," Dior creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri told AFP.

"Each country has many different aspects in fashion," she said.

Cruise collections fall between usual spring/summer and autumn/winter collections, and French houses often visit other countries for the launch. 

The event in Athens "(blends) the power of heritage and contemporary inventiveness", Dior said.

The peplos, the robe traditionally worn by women in ancient Greece, was a "key inspiration" for the show's tunics, the fashion house said. 

Dior unveiled its 2022 Cruise collection at the site of the first modern Olympic Games in Athens, the first large show with spectators since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Video: Will Vassilopoulos/AFPTV/AFP

The collection, mostly in black, white, grey, gold and blue, also included sportswear pieces and suits inspired by jackets and pants worn by Marlene Dietrich.

The show took place 70 years after an iconic Dior shoot at the Acropolis.

"We are very proud to be here," Chiuri said.

"When I arrived in Dior, I found the archive and I said, one day it would be great to realise again this trip in Greece. In some ways, it’s an anniversary," she said.

In addition to the Acropolis, Greek officials have permitted Dior photo shoots at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, the Ancient Agora in Athens, the temple of Poseidon at Sounio and the temple of Zeus at Nemea.

Chiuri said getting crowds back was a welcome feeling.

British model and actress Suki Waterhouse poses during the fashion show.British model and actress Suki Waterhouse poses during the fashion show.

The last show with spectators, a smaller affair, was in September.

"We worked a lot with video, film, but it’s completely different to have an audience at our fashion show. It's like a concert," she said.

"The guests are part of the show with us."

Last summer, Dior launched its cruise collection in Piazza del Duomo in Lecce in Italy.

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