Christian Dior is known for its timeless bags, but it’s the renowned Lady Dior that stands out from the rest. Made from polished lambskin leather, shimmering gold hardware, and stitched in a cannage pattern (the quilting mirrors Dior’s original couture show chairs), this classic accessory is a symbol of French elegance. And though the world has evolved, with the brand’s atelier moving from Paris to Florence, the Lady Dior still sits amongst the heavyweight champions of purses. (Side note: if a new Dior bag doesn’t have a “made in Florence” label it’s probably fake.) But how has this simple silhouette stayed so legendary for so long? Strap yourself into your chain belt, we’re revealing all.
The Lady Dior Bag Meets Princess Diana
Sometimes, the perfect gift presents itself at the right time, and this how Lady Dior came to be. Upon awaiting the arrival of Princess Diana in 1995, the First Lady of France (Bernadette Chirac), enlisted the help of Christian Dior’s creative director Gianfranco Ferré to find the right token of appreciation for the adored Princess. Ferré showed a selection of contenders but none could beat the black quilted bag coined Chouchou (French for “the favorite”), which had been designed a year prior. Princess Diana’s fashion aptitude meant she adored the gift, so much so, that she purchased several other colorways before leaving Paris. What followed can only be described as a love affair. Princess Diana sported the beloved purse at a series of events including the 1996 Met Gala, where she matched the accessory with an equally fabulous navy slip dress. The budding romance resulted in the fashion equivalent of marriage, with Dior changing the bag’s name to “Lady Dior”—a nod to Princess Diana’s sophisticated style.
The Lady Dior Bag Throughout the Ages
At the end of 1996, John Galliano’s accession to Dior set the brand and the Lady Dior Bag on a new path fueled by fantasy and historical references—see a red-painted Marie Antoinette in his 2000 Haute Couture show. Though such an outlandish aesthetic opposes Dior’s refined heritage, this attention-grabbing approach turned out to be the bag’s safety raft during the 2008 financial crisis. The economic standstill resulted in a craving for extravagance, and Galliano’s vibrant offerings, from tie-dye to fuchsia pink styles, provided a breath of fresh air for onlookers, as the bags were featured in both Sex and the City and Gossip Girl.
Even after Galliano’s 2011 departure, the Lady Dior continued to reflect the times. Raf Simons turned the accessory into an artistic piece to match his floral Fall 2012 Haute Couture show, and Maria Grazia Chirui has reimagined the Lady Dior Bag entirely introducing a new style called the Lady D-Lite Bag.
The Lady D-Lite Bag
The year was 2016 and Maria Grazia Chiuri took over the creative reins of Dior, signaling yet another brand shift. While her predecessors had an understanding of the Dior woman, for Chiuri, the first female designer to walk the Dior atelier’s hallowed halls, it’s something more—it’s personal. Her Spring/Summer 2017 show demonstrated this as models graced the runway in free-flowing skirts and white graphic tees proclaiming “we should all be feminists.” The same fusion of sophistication and functionality extends to her accessories, specifically the Lady D-Lite bag, which she introduced in 2019.
As part of Dior’s Spring/Summer 2020 collection, the Lady D-Lite Bag is a sportier interpretation of the classic Lady Dior. Crafted using canvas, not leather, and tonally embroidered with the Christian Dior logo, the bag is a highly practical addition to your everyday wardrobe. Chiuri even introduced a range of adjustable embroidered shoulder straps to bring another layer of versatility to the bag.
While this new silhouette may suggest a deviation from the brand’s original mission to elevate femininity, we would argue it’s a refocus on what Christian Dior is all about—women. Whether you want to keep it traditional with the Lady Dior, or you prefer a contemporary style like the Lady D-Lite, these bags are made for the modern woman who is always evolving but never going out of style.