Each piece requires more than 1,600,000 stitches and takes over 42 hours to create.

It opened the Spring/Summer 2018 Christian Dior show. It’s seen on the streets, at events and all over social media. Every fashion influencer has one (or a few). No doubt, the Dior Book Tote is one of the it bags of the year and also one of Maria Grazia Chiuri’s most coveted creations yet.

Originally introduced in Dior Oblique canvas and multi-coloured embroidered canvas, the iconic Dior Book Tote is reinterpreted in toile de Jouy for the Cruise 2019 collection.

Here’s a closer look behind the scenes in the making of the latest must-have item by the Maison.

The motif

In 1947, the walls of Monsieur Dior’s first boutique at 30 Avenue Montaigne was adorned with a toile de Jouy called “Colifichets”. The motif was realised in collaboration with decorator Victor Grandpierre following the recommendation of artist Christian Bérard.

Drawing inspiration from the classic print, Maria gave it her own spin – replacing the traditional pastoral illustrations with wild animals. The updated design was initially hand-drawn with pen and ink before they were printed or embroidered on several garments and accessories in the Cruise 2019 collection, including The Dior Book Tote bag.

The savoir-faire

After the conception of the motif, the manufacture begins with embroidery in an Italian family-run atelier. Each piece requires more than 1,600,000 stitches and takes over 42 hours to create.

Once the beige background is embroidered, sewing machines are used to outline the foliage and tree trunks in blue – under careful attention by artisans. This is followed by the forms of four key protagonists: the tiger, monkey, lion and serpent.

“I brought the decorative scenes up to date and made them more dynamic and surprising by representing animals considered wild and exotic to the Western imagination, which make my canvases almost acts of surreal transgression when compared to the traditional ones. You discover this only by really paying attention or observing the fabric very closely,” Maria reveals.

As Maria said, the finer details shine through upon a closer inspection. One can clearly notice the monkey wears a mischievous look while hanging from a tree branch, the majestic dominance of the tiger, and a fearsome duel between the snake and the lion.

Accentuating the front of the bag is the signature “Christian Dior’ in beige and its city of birth “Paris” in black.

The five individual Dior Book Tote pieces are inspected before they are relayed to the Maison’s leatherworking ateliers in Florentine. There, the bag is then mounted with two handles, sewn with reinforcements on the front and back panels. The length of the handles allow for hand or shoulder carry, while the rounded structure ensures a comfortable fit.

For the finishing touches, a “Christian Dior Paris, Made in Italy” mark embossed with gold ribbon on smooth calfskin is placed inside. Finally, the artisans assemble the bag’s lateral and central parts using a sewing machine.

(swipe left to discover the savoir-faire)

See the three variations of The Dior Book Tote in toile de Jouy below.

Dior Cruise 2019 Bleue Book Tote (swipe left)

Dior Cruise 2019 Bordeaux Book Tote

Dior Cruise 2019 Multi-coloured Book Tote

Recommended for you: Everything to know about Chiara Ferragni’s custom Dior wedding dress

Shop the full collection on Christian Dior’s official website here.

Images and media: Courtesy of Christian Dior