Home » Elgin marbles row reignites as fashion show held by ‘stolen’ artefacts

Elgin marbles row reignites as fashion show held by ‘stolen’ artefacts

The British Museum Elgin Marbles row has been reignited after the world-famous museum held a fashion show using the artefacts as a backdrop.

Greece’s culture minister has slammed the museum for showing “zero respect” to its cultural heritage, which arrived in the UK in 1806 at the behest of Lord Elgin, who removed the sculptures from the Parthenon five years earlier.

The works by Greek sculptor Pheidias are now displayed in Room 18, the Duveen Gallery, which became a self-contained catwalk over the weekend to host a fashion show.

Dozens of guests, among them Vogue editor Anna Wintour, gathered to watch models glide through the room – which becomes a commercial venue after its traditional opening hours – and showcase clothing made by designer Erdem Moralioglu.

The designer meant to use the location to honour Greek culture, but minister Dr Lina Mendoni, a long-time campaigner arguing the Marbles must be returned to Greece, said the display was an “insult” to Greece.

Dr Mendoni said that, by allowing the show to go ahead in the room, the museum showed “zero respect for the masterpieces of Pheidias”.

She said: “The directors of the British Museum trivialise and insult not only the monument but also the universal values that it transmits.

“The conditions of display and storage of the sculptures, at the Duveen Gallery, are constantly deteriorating. It is time for the stolen and abused sculptural masterpieces to shine in the Attic light.”

Mr Moralioglu said his exhibition meant to pay respect to Maria Callas, an American-born Greek soprano who died in 1977.

He told Vogue he wanted to hold the show in the Duveen Gallery, as it is a space he felt “epitomised her Greekness”.

The designer added that he was interested in the “idea of someone starting off somewhere and ending up somewhere else”.

Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, Dr Mendoni criticised the exhibition for using the Parthenon sculptures as “decoration” rather than incorporating them into the event, as has been done by fashion house photographers at the Parthenon in Greece.

Dr Mendoni was described as being on the organisational “front line” when the Greek government allowed Dior to use Athens’ Panathenaic Stadium as a catwalk in 2021.

She said she felt the show “utterly minimised” the “universal value” of the Marbles, which are currently the subject of ongoing talks between the British Museum and the Greek government, which are seeking to find an agreement over the latter’s repatriation requests.

The British Museum has said it would not comment on Dr Mendoni’s statement, and Express.co.uk has reached out to Erdem Moralioglu for comment.