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Bouthayna Al Muftah for the Dior Lady Art 7th Edition

Seven Years of Dior Lady Art Welcomes Collaborations with All-New Artists

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Each year, Dior invites a group of artists to approach its Lady Dior handbag as a palette for creativity, reimagining the design through their singular gaze for Dior Lady Art. Now in its seventh iteration, this year sees ten artists from across the world working with the house for this celebration of imagination by offering their own takes on the icon.

Sara Cwynar for the Dior Lady Art 7th Edition

Sara Cwynar for the Dior Lady Art 7th Edition; © Harry Eelman, courtesy of Dior.

Since 2016, Lady Dior Art has debuted collaborations with artists like Judy Chicago, Mickalene Thomas, Polly Apfelbaum, Song Dong, Mai-Thu Perret, Raqib Shaw, and Chris Soal—just to name a few. This year, we’ll find the creators Ghada Amer, Brian Calvin, Sara Cwynar, Alex Gardner, Shara Hughes, Minjung Kim, Zhenya Machneva, Bouthayna Al Muftah, Françoise Pétrovich, and Wang Yuyang joining the oeuvre of incredible handbag designs, which far transcend the concept of a simple, functional accessory.

The standard for the project seems to be that the imagination must take the lead—and the outcome is, as always, a marvel to explore. Given carte blanche to the square bag, this year’s chosen artists have explored the shape through mediums and materials like embroidery, beading, mink, tulle, PVC, muslin flowers, and more, with some artists imagining a single one-of-a-kind handbag design, while others have contributed two or more unique concepts.

From Kim’s search for beauty through serenity, the artist has conceived four editions of the Lady Dior, including three full-sized models and a micro bag that call upon her aesthetic of minimalism and repeated shapes or patterns. For one design, the Korean artist referred to a series titled The Street to create the white handbag with bursts of tulle (which Kim shares is actually inspired by the shape of women’s umbrellas) covering its surface. Kim’s Story series was the point of reference for a design with multicolored fur blocks and a black handle and hardware, as well as the miniature iteration, where she imagined the artwork’s tiny blocks of color through embroidery. “I got inspired by my own library in Milan,” said Kim of the series. “I thought, ‘all these books, it seems that everybody wants to say something’.” Finally, the art of handmade Hanji paper was the origin of a bag in hues of red reminiscent of the rising sun, where crinkled reliefs suggest the topography of a mountain landscape.

Alex Gardner for the Dior Lady Art 7th Edition

Alex Gardner for the Dior Lady Art 7th Edition; © Harry Eelman, courtesy of Dior.

A snapshot of one of the American artist Gardner’s faceless painted figures took up residence on his Lady Dior. The bag’s body of pearlescent holographic leather brought to mind keywords like “elegance” and “audacity” when juxtaposed with the smooth black velvet hand that is poised on its front and the sanguine fabric of the interior. “Before being offered this opportunity, I was thinking about making more functional objects. It was kind of perfect timing to face this challenge of making this very cool art object but also maintaining a lot of functionality—because at the end of the day I do want people to be able to use it as a bag,” said Gardner. “I maintained the silhouette and form as much as possible and played with the materials.”

The New York-based Canadian native Cwynar focuses her practice on questions surrounding prevalent themes in our contemporary society like consumerism, beauty, and even life itself, employing photography and collage to do so. Through two designs set against the maison’s Cannage-pattern, Cwynar covered her bags with photographs, almost like a stamp collection or a scout’s uniform, neatly covered in patches. “The Lady Dior bag is kind of a symbol or icon so I wanted to remake it out of images that are also symbols or icons,” Cwynar said. Imagery from the idealized world we’ve created (which the artist curated from the stock photos and museum archives) has been carefully placed on the bags—one, in bright yellow PVC, features tiny curiosities placed neatly into the geometry of the Cannage, like sunny-side-up eggs, rotary-dial telephones, flowers, clouds, and shoes. The second, imagined in ruby red leather, features imagery as embroidered patches of vintage photographs, works of art, and furniture, with some images shared between the two styles.

Bouthayna Al Muftah for the Dior Lady Art 7th Edition

Bouthayna Al Muftah for the Dior Lady Art 7th Edition; © Marion Berrin, courtesy of Dior.

Al Muftah, the Qatar-based artist whose work encompasses painting, printmaking, and conceptual installations, acts as an archive for the collective memories of her country. For her Lady Dior, Al Muftah’s single design considered the concept of an artist book. Delicate pieces of white chiffon have been hand-embroidered in black script, tied up with string, and placed all over the black leather bag. With each piece of fabric placed intentionally, Al Muftah has strung together a kind of manuscript representational of her own musings on identity and the simultaneous intimate and universal nature of art and fashion. “Chiffon serves to show transparency through the layering, highlighting an element of depth. The delicate thread draping conjoins together the stories that bind us together as a collective and bridge the conversation and cross-cultural dialogue,” Al Muftah said.

Bouthayna Al Muftah for the Dior Lady Art 7th Edition

Bouthayna Al Muftah for the Dior Lady Art 7th Edition; © Marion Berrin, courtesy of Dior.

Among this year’s Dior Lady Art collaborations, are three models featuring Pétrovitch’s bird motif; Yuyang’s suite of lunar-inspired bags; and a celebration of geometry through three modular styles by Machneva. Then, from Shara Hughes are two flower-covered models offering an ode to nature; two intricately-beaded models—one full-sized and one mini—bearing iterations of Calvin’s portraits; and finally, two colorful bags by Amer, with a vibrant patchwork of letters spelling out words like “strong,” “loving,” and “resilient.”

Sara Cwynar for the Dior Lady Art 7th Edition

Sara Cwynar for the Dior Lady Art 7th Edition; © Harry Eelman, courtesy of Dior.

Minjung Kim for the Dior Lady Art 7th Edition

Minjung Kim for the Dior Lady Art 7th Edition; © Marion Berrin, courtesy of Dior.

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Kelly Wearstler

THE WINTER EXPERIENCE ISSUE
2023

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During Paris Haute Couture Week, Dior presented an enthralling High Jewelry collection designed by Artistic Director Victoire de Castellane.
The photographer’s newest project, “24H Air France,” commemorates the airline’s 90th anniversary with a stunning documentation of archival flight attendant uniforms.
Dior taps artists Mickalene Thomas, Hilary Pecis, Ludovic Nkoth, Jeffrey Gibson and more for its latest Dior Lady Art Collection.

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