Democracy, architecture, sports, art, theatre, philosophy, science, mathematics, medicine: Western civilization owes a lot to the Ancient Greeks. Modern fashion, too, bears the fruits of the classic Hellenic civilization, with many crucial elements of fashion design sprouting from antiquated soil. While neighboring Paris and Milan stand as the current fashion capitals of the world, Ancient Greece has been somewhat of a fixation, and indeed muse, of modern fashion. At one point or another, every lauded designer has toyed with the tokens of Greek dress: the drapery, the tunics, the pleats, the cloaks, the headwear, the ornamentation – its significance has been monumental. Mythical, in fact.
Some, of course, have been more blatant in their affection. The late, great Karl Lagerfeld’s proclivity for history was well-documented, his interest in Ancient Greece so profound he staged an entire Chanel show dedicated to the period. For Cruise 2017 / 2018, Lagerfeld brought the Parthenon to Paris, as models slunk down the marbled runway in Corinthian columned-heels and Chanel-ified chitons, cultural motifs aplenty. But the singular most powerful style to evolve from Ancient Greece is what has now become known as the “Grecian Goddess” dress, a draped dress which bears the stylistic stamp of the peplos, the typical garb of Greek women by 500 BC.
Draped and open on one side of the body, modern appropriations of the peplos have been plentiful and prolific in fashion’s history. And while drapery has fleeted in and out of trend-based fashion – remember Coco Chanel once accused Christian Dior of draping women rather than dressing them – it will always underscore the art of couture, the way fabric is pinned and positioned on the body critical to the practice of haute couture.
With the smell of nostalgia thick in the air, drapery – and in particular the draped dress – has flooded modern fashion once more. Its iterations are many, with modern design gods and goddesses championing its ripple-like fluidity and soft structure in innovative, curious new ways. Michael Halpern is doing his Grecian glitzy with his signature super-soaker sequins, Rick Owens remains subversive and subtle when it comes to his rhythmic swaths, Alessandro Michele is philosophically and culturally attune in his articulation, and fashion’s vanguard is bringing the cool with Christopher John Rogers, Christopher Esber, Materiel, A.W.A.K.E Mode, Sally La Pointe and Petar Petrov offering a suite of draped dresses from ladylike to loud.
And of course, late Greek fashion heroine, Sophia Kokosalaki, who paid homage to her culture by pioneering a modern, ethereal style of drapery and creating a generation of elegant warrior-women in return.
An indubitable symbol of elegance, it remains a mainstay of modern fashion and just so happens to be trending, too. So at the top of our fashion Acropolis sits this draped dress by Jacquemus, its sculptural contour and hessian-like fabrication seemingly straight out of Sparta. While Gucci’s spectacular neoclassical cady dress and other Grecian wares from Norma Kamali, Albus Lumen and Matteau round out this week’s Hellenic-inspired Fab Five.
Saudade Gathered Cotton-Blend Maxi Dress, jacquemus at moda operandi, $1090. shop now
Crystal-embellished draped cady dress, Gucci at Matches Fashion, $5,150. shop now
The One Shoulder Dress, Matteau, $800. shop now
4. Norma Kamali
Goddess asymmetric pleated stretch-jersey dress, norma kamali at net-a-porter, $369. shop now
5. Albus Lumen
Licentia draped cotton maxi dress, Albus Lumen, $520. shop now