The Dior Lady Art initiative champions the work of women artists from all over the world. We take a closer look at edition #3.
Who rules the world? Well in Dior’s case, it’s definitely women. In its third installation of the Dior Lady Art project (it was first launched in 2016), Dior’s creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri have compiled a female-only group of 11 handpicked artists to interpret the house’s iconic Lady Dior bag. From South Korea, Japan, United States, Turkey, Colombia, to Germany, the artists were given the freedom to express and reinvent the bag with their unique creative processes and aesthetic discernment.
There has always been an inextricable link between the world of art and fashion from the time the brand was founded by Christian Dior in 1946. In his youth, before he delved into the fashion world, Monsieur Dior worked as a gallerist specialising in contemporary art. He opened an art gallery (1928-1934) on Rue Cambacerés, in the 8th arrondissement in Paris where he showcased the works of prolific young artists of that time such as Swiss sculptor Alberto Giacometti, master of surrealism Salvador Dali and famous French poet/artist Jean Cocteau.
For the uninitiated, the Lady Dior was first launched in 1994 — but it was created without an official name. A year later, it was given to Diana, The Princess of Wales, by France’s First Lady, Bernadette Chirac. The princess loved it so much, she ordered it in a multitude of styles. From then on, the bag became famously associated with the Princess of Wales and in 1996, it was bestowed the name ‘Lady Dior’.
Exquisitely crafted in the house’s ateliers by hand (one hundred and forty pieces to be exact), everything starts with manually cutting the leathers. The pieces are then assembled, moulded and intricately sewn together. Even the charms which are the four “D-i-o-r” letters, are shaped by hand.
Chiuri’s decision of an all-women ensemble for this project is symbolic, and a supportive way to elevate female empowerment given the late Princess’s association to the bag. Her choice to champion women artists from all walks of life spanning a multitude of generations was indeed a bold move and one that’s never been done before at Dior. In fact, Chiuri, who took on the role of the creative director in July 2016, is also the first women designer ever to design for this 73-year-old Parisian house.
One of the oldest artists that worked her magic on the Lady Dior is 87-year-old Colombian visual artist Olga de Amaral renowned for her large-scale abstract works made with fibres and precious metals (particularly silver and gold). If you’re looking for a full-on glam piece, De Amaral’s version of the Lady Dior is embroidered in cotton leaves, and finished with 24-carat gold, boasting a stunning, waterfall effect.
Hoping for a genderless, unbiased marketplace of creativity, is young Chinese contemporary artist Li Shurui. Contemporary art in China is generally dominated by men, but women like Li are quietly coming out of the shadows. Li explained that her holographic-effect Lady Dior bag was conceptualised by her desire to mimic the digital world we live in today. She utilised her signature airbrushing style but injected new print and stamping techniques to create sections with a 3D effect — Li’s Lady Dior is also one of the few styles with a futuristic millennial touch to it.
A regular collaborator with Dior, contemporary Korean sculpture and installation artist, Lee Bul also worked on Dior Lady Art #1 and the Miss Dior exhibition in 2013. For this installation, Bul, whose work questions the marginalisation of women and patriarchal authority, created a moss-like textured effect on the Lady Dior bag. Besides art, Monsieur Dior has always had a soft side for nature (his childhood garden at Les Rhumbs is a huge source of inspiration in most of his collections) and Bul’s piece evokes a sentimental side to the storied Parisian house.
When displayed together, these artistic masterpieces — like French artist Isabelle’s Cornaro’s velvet version embellished with chains and crystals, an exquisite fur clad style by Turkish artist/ceramist Burçak Bingöl and contemporary African-American visual artist Mickalene Thomas’s eclectic patchwork Lady Dior — celebrate the power of femininity and cultural diversity.
To feast your eyes on more of these gorgeous one-of-a-kind Lady Dior bags, head to Dior ION Orchard from now till 17 January 2019. The bags are priced from S$7,200.
All images courtesy of Dior.