Dior designer Maria Grazia Chiuri has caused a stir through the claim that her swan dress, the label’s finale resort 2022 look shown last week at Greek’s Panathenaic Stadium, wasn’t inspired by Björk’s 2001 Oscar dress. Rather Chiuri says the entire collection took inspiration from ancient Grecian style and the dress itself was in part inspired by an image of actress Marlene Dietrich dressed in a 1935 costume party as Leda, a Greek mythological princess turned queen.
According to legend, Leda was pursued by Zeus, who who took on the appearance of a distressed swan to seduce her, a story commonly depicted in ancient Greek art. Commenting on the collection and her own roots, the Rome, Italy-born Chiuri told Vogue, “I come from Roma, don’t forget. Around me, the reference of Greece is everywhere, on every statue. It’s my background.”
True to the mythological story, which resulted in two eggs one of which hatched Helen of Troy, Björk brought eggs with her to the Oscars and placed them at her feet as she walked the red carpet.
Placing an emphasis on freedom of movement, which included Chiuri’s first foray into sport-inspired offerings including a sneaker silhouette, the designer collaborated with local Greek tailors on some of the pieces in an effort to avoid being bogged down in the usual ancient Greece style clichés.
Interestingly, Grazia Chiuri also designed a swan dress when she was with Valentino as part of a 2014 haute couture collection. At the time, the dress was described as a tribute to the Iceland-born Björk [Guðmundsdóttir]’s dress, which was designed by Marjan Pejoski.
While Chiuri’s claims don’t seem so far-fetched when the mythological history of Queen Leda is examined closely, Björk’s version is so dominant in popular culture that her ownership of the swan-as-dress silhouette won’t be budged any time soon.
Given Chiuri’s not exactly the most beloved designer currently on the world stage, she could have avoided a world of criticism had she simply acknowledged the enduring force of Björk’s dress while noting there was a bigger, more ancient back story to her version. And yet, her decision to keep Björk’s dress at arm’s length isn’t so surprising given her aforementioned affability deficit.
Check out Dior and Dietrich’s swan dress below.