by flaunt

The new Dior Lady Art line features collaborations with artists that offer a fresh take on the much-worshipped handbag


It’s the stuff of legends. A small rectangular leather bag with diagonal and perpendicular stitching and stiff, arched handles created in 1995 and nicknamed Chouchou that was chosen at the request of France for First Lady Bernadette Chirac to give to the Princess of Wales on the occasion of her visit to inaugurate the major Cézanne retrospective at the Galerie Nationale du Grand Palais. Less than a year later, the bag was christened the Lady Dior.

For the opening of the London Bond Street flagship and the cruise show at Blenheim Palace this past May, the British artist Marc Quinn created a limited series of bags and small accessories around the Lady Dior that feature a colorful fragmented mélange of abstract orchid motifs based on his In the Night Garden series of pigment prints from 2012, or his 2015 Fossil Records series featuring embossed floral patterns on metallic lambskin. Artists Mat Collishaw, Ian Davenport, Jason Martin, Matthew Porter, Daniel Gordon, and Chris Martin have similarly expanded into collaborations that merge the artists’ trademark aesthetics into different Lady Dior bags.

“One of the challenges from conception to realization of the bag is the selection of the materials, as I use many different materials from newspapers to glitter in the collages and surfaces of my paintings,” Chris Martin explained of his Lady Dior project. “Prior to the actual making of the bag, the Dior team came by the studio with a range of leather pieces for me to select the final versions. We ended up not using any of the glitters as it’s not consumer-friendly to have a bag full of glitter.”

Martin had to translate his abstract collage paintings onto leather surfaces to fabricate the bags that recall his colorful “Mother Popcorn” oil on canvas from 2006. “These bags are like a canvas for me to paint on,” Martin continued, “so in a way they are like artwork with the incredible fine quality material and the artisanal skills of the craftsmanship.”

Maintaining a connection to the Dior heritage was important for Daniel Gordon, “I created a version of the cannage—the quilted diagonal and double stripe line pattern originating from the cane chairs at the Dior Atelier in a drawing,” Gordon told me. “I understand that flowers are part of the house heritage so I made the interior with floral designs.”

Similarly for Jason Martin, it was crucial that his own work be connected to the soul of the atelier. “The Dior technical team took my drawings and began the challenge to create on different leather materials virtual translation of the essence of my work in a way that reflect both my coding and that of Dior.” For this, a high technology approach was crucial. “I wanted the bags to have an experiential, 3D feel, in the same way that someone would move around and experience the surface relief of my artwork,” Martin explained. The Dior team employed high tech methods never before used on leather to recreate the surface of fissures from his Shaolin series painted on aluminum in 2011, and to achieve the heights of the waves on the soft density, metallic gold dyed leather. “The movements of the waves echoed the movements of the bag’s handle,” Martin told me.

Artists invent new ways of seeing. The Dior Lady Art collaboration introduced a new life and vision into the Lady Dior legend.

Written and styled by Long Nguyen

Camerawork: Eric Vogel.

Artwork: John Michael Rusnak.