Maison Dior has again given carte blanche to ten international contemporary artists to revisit the iconic Lady Dior bag. This follows the success of the Dior Lady Art project initiated in 2016 with Marc Quinn.
The new designers, Lee Bul, John Giorno, Hong Hao, Jack Pierson, Friedrich Kunath, Namsa Leuba, Betty Mariani, Jamilla Okubo, Spencer Sweeney and David Wiseman, were invited to unveil their personal vision of the timeless bag and transpose their creativity to the medium of leather craftsmanship.
Everything, from the fabric to the Charms, the size, color, decoration, handles and the “cannage” was adapted according to the desires and inspirations of the artists, who gave free rein to their imagination.
Below is the big reveal of the new bags and a short bio of each contributing artist. The designs will be presented through out the year at exclusive events organised by Dior.
Jamilla Okubo, United States
Jamilla Okubo, one of the youngest artists to be invited to participate in this project, was born in 1993 and graduated from Parsons School of Design in New York. Her art is inspired by her Kenyan origins: she works on cultural identity and is committed to offering a new perspective on the African diaspora. For Dior, she has designed three bags that are technologically complex to produce in the Dior workshops. Two of them have Kenyan-style beads mixed with Parisian-inspired crystals, and on the other bag, we find the typical Dior haute couture embroidery techniques. The three Lady Dior bags imagined by this young woman bring together two heritages and cultures: Kenyan and Parisian.
John Giorno, United States
John Giorno has been a key figure in the American art world for over sixty years. John Giorno’s studio, located on The Bowery in Manhattan, was associated with a number of major artists, including Andy Warhol and the writers of the Beat Generation, and it was here that Mark Rothko painted and William S. Burroughs lived. But John Giorno owes his fame to his realistic and revolutionary poetry. For his exclusive interpretation of the Lady Dior, the artist has created two mid-sized graphic bags, decorated with lines from his writings. One of them displays the sentence “We gave a party for the gods and the gods all came” and the other “You got to burn to shine”. One face of the bag reveals these few words in black letters, while on the other side, they are written in white letters. John Giorno’s idea is that a woman can feel strong in certain moments and more reserved in others. The creations are fitted with handles in rainbow colours that are perfectly coherent with the nuances of the body of the bag.
Hong Hao, China
Undoubtedly best known for his scans of everyday objects organised according to their shapes and colors, this multimedia artist from Beijing continuously questions himself and reinterprets the traditional rules of technique, production and daily routines. Admired for his art of breaking the boundaries of traditional media, Hong Hao accepted the challenge and transposed his works onto two limited edition Lady Dior handbags. On the first mid-sized bag is a reinvented map of the world. By exchanging the colors of the sea and the land, (green and blue, blue and green) and by modifying the names of the oceans and mountain ranges, the artist lets us rediscover the world through a reversed vision. The technique of relief stitching also creates the tactile sensation in the fingertips of the altitudes of different countries. On the second bag, the artist has placed some of his scanned objects that give a pop art effect to the creation, while the quality of the various materials preserves an allure of sophistication. Both bags come with silver-tone charms that spell the name Dior.
Betty Mariani, France
Born in 1993, French artist Betty Mariani represents her daily life, her family and friends using the techniques of street art and graffiti. She uses collage, painting and drawing to deconstruct the everyday world to reveal the magic to be found in the “banal”. Her interpretation of the mid-sized Lady Dior bag is produced using a technique of spots of colour on a female face. As if the bag had just been “branded”, she plays with embroidery to give relief to this print in a manner that suggests that several people helped to decorate the bag; this idea is reminiscent of the world of graffiti, where several artists contribute to the same wall painting. Betty Mariani’s vision of the iconic bag is one of madness and chaos that is miraculously paired with traditional beauty.
Jack Pierson, United States
Highly appreciated in the world of the arts and fashion, American artist Jack Pierson creates works that are charged with eroticism on various supports, including photography, word sculptures and installations. His works bear the marks of nostalgia, while an aura of seduction often emanates from his photographs. Far from looking only to represent the traditional variations of the American dream, the artist explores the flip side of the concept and tends to express what he calls “the inherent tragedy in the pursuit of glamour”. This idea is found again in the two Lady Dior bags with a design inspired by drawings done during a stay in Paris: enchanting forms and vortices in silver and grey tones. The mid-sized bag is ideal for daytime, with its electric orange handles and its custom-made Charms with an Art Déco aesthetic. The other is its complete opposite, perfect for the evening: stitched with gold and silver embroidery, it takes on a classic, almost vintage look. In keeping with his work, Jack Pierson’s vision for the iconic Dior bag evokes feelings that are at once ephemeral and eternal.
David Wiseman, United States
Los Angeles-based artist David Wiseman finds his inspiration in the beauty of nature—flowers, leaves and glaciers, which he transforms into ceramic installations and objects through an incredibly precise and detailed technique. The American artist has had previous collaborations with Dior: he hand-sculpted five hundred bells of lily-of-the-valley to decorate the Dior boutiques in Shanghai, Tokyo and New York. His urge to master traditional methods of craftsmanship and materials to produce his creations bestows an exceptional unity on his work. As his vision for the Lady Dior handbags is in the same vein, he has pushed back the limits of Dior’s expertise to present two remarkable creations. The mid-sized bag was created in a particularly classic mode: once again we find the Dior grey of the Dior boutiques and the same traditional stitching technique used to make the Lady Dior handbag. However, he has added a floral motif to this original version of the bag with Charms created uniquely for this model: a lily-of-the-valley in porcelain and brass. The larger bag is a remarkable technical exploit. Completely transparent, it is made of perforated leather. Both bags highlight the artist’s love of nature and his desire to be inventive and attain technical perfection.
Lee Bul, Korea
With her breathtaking installations, sculptress Lee Bul, originally from Seoul, is interested in the way that a visionary interpretation and the notions of progress shape the structure of the world of today and tomorrow. A regular Dior collaborator (her works are exhibited in the Dior boutiques in Seoul, London and Los Angeles), she has ventured into a particularly complex process to design her Lady Dior bag. It took more than sixty attempts to produce this mid-sized bag. In an industrial style, it is fitted out with a dozen tiny plexiglass mirrors oriented in all directions to create an effect of a large shattered mirror. With its white and silver-tone handles and silver-tone Charms, this new interpretation of the emblematic bag by Lee Bul gives the sensation of extreme beauty, highly sophisticated and imbued with an exceptional aura: a complex and radiant creation, in the image of the works of this artist.
Spencer Sweeney, United States
It is impossible to sum up the world of New York artist Spencer Sweeney, because he is not only a visual artist, but also a performer, musician, experimental musical theatre producer and Aikido black belt. His many talents are evident in his works, which express a perpetual desire for movement, contradiction and aesthetic revolution. For his Lady Dior limited edition line, he has created two small bags, a mid-sized bag and a large bag, each with a unique design: faces, hand prints and a big curious eye are among the most obvious representations. The works appear “unfinished” to give their owner the impression of participating in the creative process by wearing them day by day. On certain models, for example, one can see brush strokes and pigments in relief. On others, the handles seem to blend into the body of the handbag, both covered by graffiti that almost appears to continue up to the arm of the wearer. All the bags are hand-embroidered, and each one bears the hidden signature of the artist.
Namsa Leuba, Switzerland
Namsa Leuba, a Swiss-Guinean artist, uses photography to call into question the way that African identities are perceived in the Western world. Using performance, fashion and documentary film, she explores her heritage and above all its ceremonies and rituals, paying particular attention to the gestures and accessories connected with it. Inspired by the culture of the Ndebele people of Zimbabwe and north-eastern South Africa, Namsa Leuba’s artistic concept for her collection of Lady Dior handbags has pushed the artisans in the leather workshops to expand the limits of their expertise to meet her vision. Her mid-sized bag is distinguished by a complex stitching technique using mink, delicate fabric and beads sewn together like pieces of a puzzle, to give the bag a “hippie” look, which alone called for over three hundred hours of work. The other model was woven in the same traditional way as many older African textiles. Both are vibrant and reflect the colour palette of Willem de Kooning and the creations of Clyfford Still. In her reinterpretation of Lady Dior, she has focused on texture, know-how and above all, the marriage of cultures.
Friedrich Kunath, United States
German-born Friedrich Kunath established his new territory in Los Angeles; it is there that he found his inspiration in the lyrics of songs or the titles of shows, as well as allusions to German Romanticism and conceptual art. By juxtaposing such apparently disparate influences, his work creates ambivalent relationships that trigger an authentic emotional experience. In one of his best-known works, he created a rainbow with a thick layer of paint stretched across a dream-like watercolour landscape. Kunath has transposed this remarkable work in his reinterpretation of the Lady Dior. On the mid-sized handbag, the artist has imagined a photographic effect depicting a kissing couple, with handles like rainbows. The sentence “Fuck it, I love you” is embroidered on the inner lining of the bag and on the back of a cloud-shaped charm. The artist has designed a bag that evokes the insolence and impertinence of America in the 70s.