It takes one influential figure to propel a designer bag to It-bag status. Case in point: Lady Dior skyrocketed to fame when the First Lady of France gifted Princess Diana the now-iconic bag. In 1995, the princess was first seen toting Lady Dior at a Cézanne exhibition opening.
Decades on, Lady Dior remains a design icon of the house of Christian Dior, in large part thanks to creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri’s continuous rejuvenation of the bag. Her artistic quest to reinterpret the codes of Lady Dior is known as Dior Lady Art and is now in its fifth year.
This year’s edition welcomes the creativity of 10 artists and collectives around the world, with one simple brief: to reimagine Lady Dior as their tabula rasa. From the likes of American feminist artist Judy Chicago, Chinese contemporary artist Song Dong, Russian art duo Recycle Group and Malagasy abstract artist Joël Andrianomearisoa come distinctively imaginative recreations of Lady Dior.
Today, the latest instalment of Dior Lady Art stands as a testament to the savoir faire of Dior artisans, melded in harmony with the minds of artists and creatives. Andrianomearisoa, for instance, rendered his creation in paper-thin frills of black radzimir silk that mirror his own larger-scale works.
For a bag with a legacy of over two decades, it’s Lady Dior’s features that cement its enduring cult status. Princess Diana herself remained loyal to the bag, toting it again at the 1996 Met Gala to complement a navy slip dress. And it’s clear why. The technical details are laced with history, with its signature topstitch quilting paying homage to Napoleon III’s chairs that Dior salon guests would sit on during the height of the New Look. The dangling charms that spell ‘Dior’ are a reference to Christian Dior’s love for lucky charms.
Lady Dior may have been a symbolic gift to Princess Diana, but given its abiding appeal, it’s likely that Christian Dior had an inkling that this was an icon in the making.