In September 1995 Princess Diana was invited to visit the Cézanne exhibition at the Grand Palais, Paris. To mark the event, she was gifted a relatively unknown Dior handbag by France’s then-First Lady, Bernadette Chirac. From then on, wherever Diana went, the bag followed, and it soon earned the title ‘Lady Dior’.
Today, the Lady Dior is one of Dior's best-known handbags. Far from remaining staid, however, the simplicity of the Lady Dior has leant itself to creative reinvention. Since 2016, Dior has given carte blanche to a diverse collection of contemporary artists as part of the Dior Lady Art project. For the fourth edition of the initiative, the focus is on global artists, giving 11 creatives from across the globe free rein over re-interpretation.
Contributing artists include Athi-Patra Ruga from South Africa, known for his innovative use of textiles and printmaking to explore utopia and dystopia, particularly in relation to the body. In this vein, the central focal point of Ruga’s bag is a pearl-encrusted face, surrounded by clusters of crystals and embroidered flowers.
Meanwhile Raqib Shaw, whose work is known for opulent scenes depicting phantasmagoric realms, draws upon his childhood memories of Kashmir and its famed horticulture, blending vivid colours within the outline of gold acrylic.
The line-up of artists is truly global, including Jia Lee (Korea), Kohei Nawa (Japan) and Wang Guangle (China) from Asia, each translating their own unique body of work onto the Lady Dior canvas.
Likewise, European art is represented by Joana Vasconcelos (Portugal) and Marguerite Humeau (France) who take diverging approaches.
And lastly, Mickalene Thomas (USA), Eduardo Terrazas (Mexico), Maria Nepomuceno (Brazil) and Rina Banerjee (USA) form the American contingent on the line-up.