The Lady Dior – 25 Years and Counting

When a handbag mixes high style with royalty, it’s virtually assured a position on the ‘It’ list. That’s certainly the case with Dior’s Lady Dior bag. From its humble no-name beginning, to a position in the fashion history of one of England’s most stylish princesses, the Lady Dior bag repeatedly proves its staying power. Ever popular and reimagined, chic is an understatement. No wonder it finds its way into the hands of so many fans, year after year!

Dior first released the now iconic style in 1995 with no official name, only a nickname, the Chouchou (French for favorite). Not until 1996 was the bag renamed the Lady Dior in honor of Diana, Princess of Wales. She was gifted the bag by the then First Lady of France.

After finding itself on the arm of the most famous woman in the world, the exposure and allure of the Lady Dior skyrocketed. Princess Diana became the unofficial face of the bag. Lady Dior quickly came to be considered an ‘It’ bag (still a fairly new concept at the time).The rest, as they say, is history. Well not quite.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

The Lady Dior remains one of Dior’s most sought-after bags. At the 25th anniversary of the bag’s renaming, learn what makes the bag so iconic. Perhaps it is even more apropos, as we reach what would have been Princess Diana’s 60th birthday.

In this in-depth guide, PurseBop explores every aspect of the iconic Lady Dior bag. From its origins, to Princess Diana’s influence on the style’s popularity and up to date sizes and prices, here is everything you need to know about the Lady Dior.

Origins and Design

The Lady Dior is intrinsically linked to Dior’s identity and history. Its design emphasizes the exquisite craftsmanship on which Christian Dior founded his namesake house back in 1946. Originally designed by Dior’s then creative director, Gianfranco Ferré, the Lady Dior is intricately made using 140 pieces. Since Ferré originally trained as an architect, many of his designs were sculptured and precise. Christian Dior himself was also greatly interested in architecture and this was a formative part of the house’s identity.

Photo courtesy of Pol Baril.

The Cannage pattern is one of Dior’s most well-known prints but it actually first debuted on the Lady Dior. Inspired by Napoleon III rattan chairs at Christian Dior’s first haute couture show in 1947, Ferrè reimagined the design.

Photo courtesy of Dior.

With a structured, top handle style, it embodies the house’s signature sophistication and elegance. Christian Dior’s 1947 ‘New Look’ centered on returning ultra-femininity and opulence to women’s fashion after World War II. Certainly, that focus remains a Dior hallmark to this day.

The Lady Dior’s signature finish is the hanging charms which spell out Dior. These were inspired by the lucky charms Christian Dior always carried with him as he was very superstitious. Moreover, he was known to visit a fortune teller before every major fashion show. 

Photo courtesy of Dior.

However, the Lady Dior design has its drawbacks. For example, although the structured finish and elegant top handles are alluring features, they are not always practical. The bag’s rigid structure means capacity may be limited.  Stiff top handles can be particularly hard to hold, particularly on the smaller sizes.

Princess Diana and The Lady Dior

Princess Diana is one of the most respected and beloved style icons of the 20th century. And of all the bags released during this time, the Lady Dior is the design most intrinsically linked to the Princess. Once spotted on the arm of Princess Diana, ‘It’ bag status was assured.

Diana repeatedly opted for her namesake (ish) design during royal tours and visits. She famously paired the elegant top handle design with vibrantly hued skirt suits. Although the Lady Dior was first spotted on Diana’s arm in Paris (of course), the Princess took the style all over the world.

For the 1996 Met Gala in New York, Diana wore the Lady Dior with a slip dress designed by then creative director of Dior, John Galliano. That look is recognized to date as one of Princess Di’s most iconic.

Photo courtesy of Tim Graham / Getty Images.

Photo courtesy of New York Daily News.

Diana particularly favored the classic black Lady Dior, as well as patent and croc versions in various sizes. Once Princess Di was pictured with the bag, the design’s popularity soared. Renaming it  in her honor heightened the Lady Dior’s popularity.

Photo courtesy of Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images.

Interestingly, the Lady Dior is often considered one of the first ‘It’ bags of modern times. Back in the ’90s, when the structured Dior design rose to prominence, the concept of the ‘It’ bag was still fairly new. The Lady Dior’s fame no doubt paved the way for the wave of ‘It’ bags to follow.

The Lady Dior does follow a long line of bags whose popularity is credited to celebrity style icons. Grace Kelly and Jackie Kennedy Onassis are just some of the stars who propelled future ‘It’ bags, the Hermès Kelly and the Gucci Jackie respectively, into the limelight. Diana did the same with the Lady Dior.

However, due to her royal status and the intense media scrutiny surrounding her, the image of her carrying the new Dior bag circulated internationally more quickly than ever before. This level of exposure certainly affected sales. In the bag’s first two years of production, Dior reportedly sold 200,000.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

After Princess Diana’s tragic death in 1997, demand for the Lady Dior continued to rise. The Princess is so intrinsically linked to the bag that when season four of Netflix’s The Crown was released last year, demand for the Lady Dior increased on the resale platform Vestiaire Collective

The Lady Dior’s 25th anniversary coincides with what would have been Diana’s 60th birthday this year.

Modernization, Limited Editions, the Lady D-Lite and More

Over the years, Dior released its iconic Lady Dior bag in a myriad of new styles. From metallic versions and mini sizes, to exotic leathers and bejeweled styles, the Lady Dior has been reimagined in just about every way possible. 

To modernize the classic design and improve versatility and wearability, the bag now includes a strap for crossbody or shoulder carry. Another option is to add one of Dior’s thick guitar style straps that have become popular in recent years.

For Spring/Summer 2020, Dior launched the Lady D-Lite which was dubbed a casual version of the classic Lady Dior. Featuring the same Cannage pattern as the original, this one is made in embroidered canvas rather than leather. It also includes a thick embroidered canvas strap. 

Apparently, Dior fans consider the Lady D-Lite absolutely delightful, as it is immensely popular. Also new is the Lady Dior My ABCDior Bag which comes with a wide strap which you can customize with pins. 

Read: Inside Peek to the Dior Fall/Winter London Pop-Up Shop

Photo courtesy of @olivialazuardy

Photo courtesy of @stylestructure

Photo courtesy of @sarahdenizz

Dior’s latest iteration is a micro mini. Included in Dior’s new Micro Bag Collection, this Micro Lady Dior bag is tiny enough to fit in the palm of your hand.

Photo courtesy of Dior.

In 2016, the house launched the Lady Dior Art project where  artists worldwide created individual takes on the classic bag. Since then, a fresh crop of artists annually produces limited edition versions of the bag.

Read: Dior Presents: Dior Lady Art #2

Judy Chicago x Lady Dior Art. Photo courtesy of Dior.

On the Resale Market

Like many an iconic bag, the Lady Dior is big business on the luxury resale market. Readily available at many popular resellers, it notoriously retains a significant percentage of its original value (depending upon condition). Limited edition and hard to find styles of the bag often garner much higher prices.

Depending on the size, material, color and condition, classic versions of the bag typically sell for around $1,500 – $4,500 on the resale market. 

Photo courtesy of @virginiebornoz

The Sizes

Empty table
The BagDimensions (W x H x D in)
Micro5" x 4" x 2"
Mini6.5" x 6" x 3"
Small8" x 6.5" 3"
Medium9.5" x 8" x 4.5"
Large12.5" x 10" x 4.5"

The Prices

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The BagPrice (USD) (classic leather in cannage pattern)

Are you a fan of this classic Dior gem? Do you prefer the original Lady Dior style or the more casual Lady D-Lite? Let us know.

Love, PurseBop

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