With its distinctive silhouette and structural Cannage quilting lines, the Lady Dior bag has remained one of the most iconic handbag styles in modern history. First introduced by the Maison in 1994 as the “Chouchou”, it was renamed the Lady Dior in 1995 when it was worn by Princess Diana who was gifted the bag by the then-first lady of France, Lady Bernadette Chirac. Since then, the Lady Dior has become an emblem of timeless elegance.
Over the past years, the bag has been through many reinterpretations and in the latest Dior Lady Art project, Dior has collaborated with 11 international artists from China to Egypt to The USA and many more who have used the Lady Dior as a blank canvas to fuse their creative visions with the Maison’s heritage. The Dior Lady Art project was first introduced in 2016 and has seen artists such as Judy Chicago, Marc Quinn and many more reinterpret the iconic bag into vivid and striking works of art that are also meant to be worn. Meet the artists in the seventh edition of the Dior Lady Art project:
Bouthayna Al Muftah – Qatar
Calling upon the art of typography and the creation of conceptual artist books, multidisciplinary artist Bouthayna Al Muftah crafts a poetic landscape on the Lady Dior inspired by her native land by weaving the stories of Arab authors on hand-embroidered silk chiffon. The delicate fabric evokes pages of history and memory etched onto a manuscript symbolising nostalgia and identity of the artist’s Arab heritage through the linking together of suspended threads.
Brian Calvin – California, USA
American artist Brian Calvin adds a new, tactile and sensorial dimension to his reinterpretation of the mini and medium Lady Dior. Using materials such as threads, beads and sequins and intricate hand-embroidered techniques on a raffia base, the result is a unique interplay of textures. The front displays Calvin’s signature sketches, while the back features an azure sky with a giant “Eye of Truth”, an emblem of good luck which also draws on Monsieur Dior’s superstitious tendencies. Inside, a soft pink cotton lining gives the impression of gentle tenderness.
Dorothy Iannone – USA, based in Germany
Drawing on the diversity of American identities, American artist Dorothy Iannone depicts a personal vision of the statue of liberty as a trio of little figurines. Weaved through a patchwork of stars and stripes, which are also emblematic symbols of the Maison, the two designs on the mini and medium are emphasised by threads, sequins, metals and beads. These bags are not just accessories to be carried, but double as heirloom jewellery pieces.
Wang Yuyang – China
Multidisciplinary artist Wang Yuyang fuses tradition and technology, artificial reality and historical perception and notions of earth and space. Wang draws on five artworks reflecting the many facets of the heavenly body by fusing traditional embroidery methods and innovative modern techniques to create a profusion of gems and sequins woven on jersey fabric, creating a 3D-like effect. A stunning detail is the motif of the moon printed on iridescent leather that morphs from grey to orange.
Francoise Pétrovitch – France
The bird is a recurring motif featured in French artist Francoise Pétrovich’s works and symbolises an invitation for self-exploration. Whether drawn on matt white leather or dressed in black or as a lucky charm, you’ll find this feathered friend interpreted into the three Lady Dior designs as the artist aims to bring to the light the tentative freedom of adolescence.
Minjung Kim – California, USA
Korean artist Minjung Kim is in a constant search for tranquillity which is evoked in her reinterpretation of the Lady Dior. Combining the delicate grace of her art with the savoir-faire of the atelier, Kim crafts four dreamlike journeys, printed directly onto the bag. With materials such as organza tulle, mink and the traditional craftsmanship of hanji paper, these are delicate works of art. One of the designs is crafted to display a mountain range illuminated in pink hues reminiscent of the colours of dawn.
Ghada Amer – Egypt
The first Egyptian artist to reinterpret the Lady Dior bag, Ghada Amer invites women to reappropriate their bodies and their sensuality in her artwork. The bags feature motivational words such as “strong”, “loving”, “resilient” and “determined”, to evoke the qualities of the women who wear them. Using patchwork embroidery and stones and sequins, the interiors are also works of art with a flash of fuschia pink and orange. Meanwhile, the Dior lucky charms are exchanged with the letters of Ghada’s name.
Shara Hughes – California, USA
American artist Shara Hughes is known for her experimental artwork that looks at the many facets of the human psyche. This approach was transposed to her reinterpretation of the Lady Dior by playing with optical, material and perceptual games to challenge the imagination. Dressed in red velvet or embroidered with muslin flowers, the two models are adorned with cut “windows” to offer a glimpse into a dreamlike garden, a nod to Christian Dior’s love for nature and an invite to discover the infinite possibilities behind the Lady Dior.
Sara Cwynar – Canada, based in NYC
The mediatization of our daily lives is a theme for Canada-born, New Yorker artist, Sara Cwynar. For her reinterpretation of the Lady Dior, Cwynar aims to capture the sensation of the passing of time by purposing the Cannage into a precious backdrop for an exhibition of photos gathered from the internet. Fusing prints and realistic embroideries, the images span from the 19th to the 21st century on a striking flamboyant red. Meanwhile, the mini version comes in transparent PVC on a bright yellow background. Inside is a poetic reproduction of a cloudy sky, the artist’s invitation to escape into a dreamlike world.
Alex Gardner – California, USA
The California-based artist loves highlighting the beauty of simplicity in the world around us. By playing with colour and materials, Gardner transposed one of his iconic works onto the Lady Dior. The design represents the physical contact of the palm of a hand with the holographic leather of the bag. The Cannage pattern gives way to a delicate stitching pattern, making the work appear in lifelike 3D. While elegant and subtle on the outside, inside, the material is covered in an audacious red, or “the colour of life” as Monsieur Dior once said.
Zhenya Machneva – Russia, based in France
Reflecting on the place of women in society, Russian artist Zhenya Machneva crafts three variations of the Lady Dior adorned with architectural forms reflecting the idea of an additional burden with no true functionality, a nod to the strength of women and the demands placed on them. The designs are made even more striking with intricate embroideries on the inside and outside of the bags. One of the bags comes with a removable pedestal made of large resin needles, highlighting the artist’s passion for craft techniques.
Pictures courtesy of Dior.