There are very few women in the world who have had a bag named in their honour and there is no accessory more iconic than the Lady Dior. It was designed by Gianfranco Ferre in 1994 who was inspired by the Napoleon III chairs used in his first show for the French fashion house in 1947. The bag is characterised by a quilted criss-cross cannage motif and features a boxy silhouette, top handles and a Dior charm. It was first named the ‘Chouchou’ – meaning “favourite” in French – and before it was released just a few women in the world had the opportunity to wear it.
In September 1995, Princess Diana was gifted the bag by Bernadette Chirac, the First Lady of France, at the Cézanne Art Exhibition at the Grand Palais in Paris. It is believed that the Princess of Wales had loved the gesture so much she contacted Dior to order it in every colour. She was subsequently photographed clutching the bag many times including on the Met Gala red carpet in 1996. Thus the bag eventually earned the name ‘Lady Dior’.
It has been 27 years since the release of the Lady Dior and 25 years since the untimely death of Lady Diana with the allure of the classic silhouette firmly cemented as a perennial accessory. Today the rebirth of the style is survived by creative director Grazia Maria Chiuri who heroes the savoir-faire of the bag in many different versions. More colours than Lady Diana could have ever wanted.
While the hallmark offering includes a black, grey and nude treatment – a design which alone uses 32 different elements – it is also available in new shapes and sizes. For Spring/Summer 2020, the bag was reimagined into the fully embroidered version and sweetly named the ‘Lady D-Lite’ and for the Fall 2021 season, was reinvented the toile de Jouy and Mizza motifs of the accompanying collection. Today it is also available in large and micro editions as well as customisable versions (previously worn by the Duchess of Sussex), while Winter 2023 promises an expansion of pastel hues and beautiful prints.
To celebrate the vast history of the Lady Dior bag, the savoir-faire, and extensive offering that now exists in the sartorial memory of the late Princess Diana, Dior will hold an exclusive pop-up in Westfield Sydney from July 28 to September 11. In the words of Christian Dior, “the unique character of an art object … the value of the human hand is irreplaceable because it gives everything it creates that which no machine ever could: poetry and life.”