The Dior brand has always had a strong association with artists. Founder, Christian Dior, started the tradition, and it's continued ever since.
Dior’s closest friends included a many great artists (more than he had couturier friends!) One of his friends, Jacques Bonjean was looking for a partner and so Dior became the director of an art gallery. The gallery represented many famous (or soon to be famous) names including: Paul Klee, Max Ernst, Salvador Dali, Juan Miro… and Pablo Picasso. Dior was in his element among the canvases, but the economic crisis of 1929 meant that buyers were few and far between.
Dior's Gallery. Photo: La Maison Dior
In 1932 the art gallery closed. Following an illness, makeshift housing and his search for casual jobs, Dior was taken in by a friend, Jean Ozenne, then a talented fashion designer who, despite the tough economic times, was still successful in selling his designs. Dior began working on his own designs and proved himself to be naturally gifted. He worked with great determination on his proportions and perspective and his designs quickly started to sell.
Dior at work on his designs. Photo: La Maison Dior
Dior then went on to become a designer for Piguet, and then for Lelong. At age 42 he could finally call himself a couturier and tirelessly constructed dresses like an architect, chose his colours like a painter and surrounded himself with those who would show his work in tis best light, such as photographer Willy Maywald.
His artist friends, along with the great masters, all had a great influence on Dior’s work and he paid homage to them when naming his designs. Jean Cocteau lent his name to a white organdie dress; Walter Scott: an afternoon outfit; Bach: a gala dress…
In his very first catwalk show as artistic director for Dior in July 2012, Raf Simons wanted to continue the bond between Dior and artists. He reproduced the abstract canvases of painter Sterling Ruby and was inspired by a variety of artistic greats on some of his haute couture dresses; and Andy Warhol designs on the clothes and accessories of his ready-to-wear collection.
This connection and respect for art and artists continues to go from strength to strength. The latest Dior collection to showcase this is a collaboration between Dior and seven artists - Mat Collishaw, Ian Davenport, Daniel Gordon, Chris Martin, Jason Martin, Matthew Porter, and Marc Quinn. Each artist has designed different iterations of the iconic Lady bag. The designs range from metallic to mink cover to surreal. Each version steps away from the bag’s classic and very understated design aesthetic but still retain its architectural shape (which by the way, was inspired by the Napoléon III chairs that Christian Dior used for his shows).
Above: Dior's latest collection of Lady Bags. Photos: Dior
The bags are as rare and as pricey as many works of art. Just 100 of each bag design will be sold, ranging in price from around $6,000 to $15,000. The styles are also available in other leather goods including card holders and wallets. The only question will be do you wear it or display it?
Which other handbag designer/artist collaborations do you love? Let us know.