HomeCelebrity StyleThe Lady Dior bag quintessence of savoir-faire

The Lady Dior bag quintessence of savoir-faire

“Il vero lusso richiede i migliori materiali e la migliore maestria”. Christian Dior

The Lady Dior bag is the quintessence of the Parisian Maison ‘s savoir-faire: its small dimensions encapsulate the stylistic codes that have made Dior one of the world’s most prestigious brands.

History of Lady Diana’s favourite bag

The bag was born in 1994, under the creative direction of Gianfranco Ferré, who put his hand to the archives to bring back some of the Maison’s distinctive traits, no longer in use since the 1950s. The bag at the time was called, Chouchou, a French nickname for favourite, favourite.
And favourite it soon became for Lady Diana when, in September 1995, Première Dame Bernadette Chirac, on the occasion of the opening of the Cézanne retrospective at the Grain Palais in Paris, paid homage to the Princess of Wales with the bag that would soon be much talked about.

The Première Dame commissioned event curator Francoise Dumas to select a present for the princess from the Dior boutique. Dumas noticed a small fabric bag in the atelier, which she had wrapped and sent to the Elysée Palace. That bag had not yet been launched and the artisans were working on a leather prototype.
When President Bernand Arnault heard about it, he had the bag recalled and, in the space of one night, had one made in black leather. In fact, it was a unique, never-seen-before accessory, worn for the first time by Lady D.

From Chouchou to Lady Dior

From then on, the bag became Diana’s favourite, and she wore it on many official occasions and events, made for her in different materials and colours.
But it was in 1996 that the bag’s destiny took another direction, when, on the occasion of the Met Gala in New York, Lady D appeared in an unexpected blue silk slip dress with lace details, designed by Galliano, accompanied by a midnight blue satin bag with rhinestone embellished details.
From then on, the Chouchou bag became Lady Dior, in honour of Diana, the perfect testimonial of the Dior style (the same version was recently re-launched to celebrate the event that consecrated her as an icon, in a limited edition of only 200 pieces).

The bag soon became an object of desire and is still today among the It-bag most appreciated, not only in new editions, but also in the luxury vintage sector, because it is considered a safe investment as a collector’s accessory.

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Classic black leather Lady Dior with cannage pattern and metal charms ©Sara Gambarelli by Flickr – CC BY NC SA 2.0

The essence of Dior in a handbag

The fact that it was the handbag of choice for such a much-loved and talked-about character contributed to its success, made possible above all thanks to the meticulousness and craftsmanship of the Dior ateliers.

The silhouette

The bag expresses the quintessence ofdior excellencewith its minimal silhouette and reduced dimensions, enclosed in a few clean, harmonious and charming lines.
The shape is square, supported by two curved, rigid handles, anchored to the body of the bag through oval eyelets and metal rings.
This seemingly simple shape represented a break with the trends of the time, dominated by fanny packs and backpacks, and brought elegance and sophistication back on the wrist.

The cannage motif

Dior signature is also present in the matelassé of the leather (or fabric, depending on the model), enhanced by the stitching with the cannagemuch loved by Christian Dior, the honeycomb motif typical of the Napoleon III-style Vienna straw seats on which he would seat guests during his atelier shows.
The artisans’ skill lies in perfectly matching the quilting on each side of the bag, regardless of its size; not an easy task, since the proportion of the cannage pattern remains unchanged.

The pendants

To embellish the Lady Dior there are as many metal pendants as there are letters in the brand name: the capital letters D. I. O. R. jingle and glitter like lucky charm amulets, a tribute to the superstitious nature of the couturier, who never parted with his personal fetishes.

Each Lady Dior bag takes an average of 8 hours of multi-handed work by highly skilled artisans, who assemble the more than 140 elements that make it up. The bag is produced in Italy by expert craftsmen selected by Dior.

Lady Dior between fashion and art

From its birth to the present day, the Lady Dior bag has been the testimonial of femininity in the plural, proposed in countless versions, finishes and colours, extending its boundaries and transcending ages and generations, while maintaining its recognisability and becoming, over time, a true work of art.

In 2012, the Milan Triennale hosted the exhibition Lady Dior as seen bywhich saw the iconic bag featured in numerous interpretations by artists from the world of photography, cinema, painting and the visual arts in general, including David Lynchwho dedicated a surrealist short film to the bag, starring Marion Cotillard. Other famous names were Peter Lindberg e Maarten Baaswith his interpretation in steel and bronze.

Dior Lady Art

In the following seasons, the appointment with art became a constant for Lady Dior, from versions depicting the drawings of a young Andy Warhol in the F/W 2014 collection by Raf Simonsto the Dior Lady Artproject, now in its seventh year.

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A sample of Lady Dior celebrating Andy Warhol. F/W 2014 collection designed by Raf Simons – ©othree by Flickr – CC BY 2.0

The project is a pretext for bringing together on a single blank canvas, the handbag, different cultural heritages and artistic sensibilities, in a passionate dialogue between fashion, refined tailoring and art.

Amidst material effects, three-dimensional effects, holographies, bold colours, humorous portraits, hybrid characters, embroideries, hyper-realistic traits, sequins and creative virtuosity, the bag has also become an instrument of denunciation and provocation, a space through which to tell of cultural and gender identity, of historical memory to be preserved. Marc Quinn, Zhang Huan, Joana Vasconcelos, Dorothy Iannone and other international artists have contributed to the project.

Not only limited editions

In addition to the seasonal limited editions, Dior offers theiconic bag in different finishes and sizes. The classic version comes in 5 sizes (micro, mini, small, medium, large) and is available in neutral or brighter shades. The cannage motif plays with different effects, from the iconic quilting to embossing, from micro-beads to three-dimensional embroidery.

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Lady D-Lite in canvas with embossed cannage motif. ©Arno Senoner, Unsplash

There are also other versions in the collection, in rattan and fabric, such as the Lady D-Lite, in which the cannage pattern is replaced by hand embroidery with floral and Toile de Jouy motifs.

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Dior Lady D-Lite with multicoloured floral embroidery. S/S 2023. ©Arno Senoner, Unsplash

Lady Dior 95.22

The Lady Dior 95.22 is the latest addition to the ateliers: 95 refers to the year of its debut and 22 to the year of its reinterpretation. The bag features softened lines and two metal handles with leather details, from which hang the ever-present Dior good luck charms. The cannage motif is rendered using innovative techniques. The removable shoulder strap accentuates its versatility. A bag that recognises and celebrates its past but looks to the contemporary, once again becoming an interpreter of femininity in its infinite nuances.

Alessandra Parisi

@Stiledesign. Reproduction reserved

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