PARIS — The Lady Dior has not left the spotlight since Princess Diana first sported the handbag in 1995, but Dior is hoping that one of its spin-offs, the Lady 95.22, will become one of the “It” bags of 2023.
The French luxury house is launching the bag, revealed during its fall 2022 women’s ready-to-wear show, with a global campaign set to break on Thursday that will feature a multigenerational cast of outstanding women from the realms of fashion, film, literature, sports, music and art, many of them with existing ties to women’s creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri.
“Profoundly united by their spirit of independence, they share the message of universal, essential sisterhood carried by the creative director since her arrival at the head of Dior women’s collections,” the house said in a statement.
The black-and-white portraits, shot by French photographer Brigitte Lacombe, capture the personality of sitters including author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, whose essay and related TED talk “We Should All Be Feminists” inspired the T-shirts in Chiuri’s debut show for Dior in 2016. Adichie is shown wearing one of the T-shirts with a black trouser suit and a black Lady 95.22.
The Nigerian writer features in the first chapter of the campaign alongside Italian journalist Beatrice Borromeo, the wife of Pierre Casiraghi, who has been a Dior brand ambassador since 2021. Among the other personalities in the pipeline is Anya Taylor-Joy, who has racked up campaigns for the house since being named a Dior global brand ambassador in 2021.
Beyond the official faces of the brand, Chiuri has surrounded herself with a cadre of female creatives who work with her on everything from fashion shows to exhibitions and campaigns, often with a feminist theme. Some of these regular collaborators will be making their debut as campaign faces in the Lady 95.22 ads, which will roll out over the course of the year.
Receiving the Legion of Honor, France’s highest civilian distinction, at a ceremony in 2019, Chiuri explained: “Dior is a maison that represents femininity, and for this reason I believe that my commitment is to make women aware of their potential, and I thank the maison that supports me to give a voice to women and their work. Their commitment can change the world.”
Lacombe has shot several ads for Dior, including Chiuri’s first campaign for spring 2017 featuring twins Ruth and May Bell, and the fall 2017 ads with Jennifer Lawrence.
The Lady 95.22, named after the year of the pillar handbag’s creation in 1995, and the year of its revival in 2022, revisits the shape of the Lady Dior with a subtly curved silhouette, and adds a touch of modernity with leather and metal handles set off by letter charms that spell out the word “Dior.”
Its signature cannage pattern has been reinvented in two new versions, including a macrocannage motif created with a high-frequency technique. The leather is first cut by hand before being worked on using wave energy, Dior said.
Available for preorder in selected boutiques from Thursday, the bag will come in three sizes — small, medium and extra-large — and two colors, black and latte, with ruthenium or pale gold finishes.
While the house continually updates the Lady Dior, most recently by reissuing the mini version carried by Princess Diana at the Met Gala in 1996, it has also produced variants such as the Lady D-Lite and the Lady D-Joy, and further cemented the handbag’s status by asking leading artists to customize it as part of the Lady Dior as Seen By and Dior Lady Art projects.
The Lady Dior also features in Season Five of the Netflix series “The Crown,” which chronicles Princess Diana’s evolution into an international style icon. In a neat piece of synergy, Australian actress Elizabeth Debicki, who plays Princess Diana in the show, was named a brand ambassador for Dior Joaillerie last year.
French event organizer Françoise Dumas told WWD the story behind the naming of the Lady Dior. In 1995, then First Lady Bernadette Chirac asked Dumas to pick a gift from the Dior boutique for the Princess of Wales, who was expected for tea at the Élysée presidential palace during a visit to France.
“I had noticed a little bag, which at the time was made of fabric, and so I had it wrapped and sent to the Élysée,” Dumas said, adding that she phoned Bernard Arnault, the chairman and chief executive officer of Dior parent company LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, to inform him of her choice.
“He said, ‘Recall the bag immediately.’ Why? Because he was working on a prototype in leather. He had it finished overnight, and the leather version was sent instead,” Dumas recalled.
The bag came to be so closely associated with Princess Diana, who was still referred to as Lady Diana in France despite her royal title, that it was renamed in her honor.