Paola Petrobelli

Launched in September 1995, the « Lady Dior » bag was given to Diana Princess of Wales by Bernadette Chirac, on the occasion of her visit to the Cézanne exhibition at the Grand Palais in Paris, sponsored by the LVMH group.

The Lady Dior As Seen By project, gives artists carte blanche to reinterpret the brand’s iconic bag. 
The resulting artworks have been shown around the world in a travelling exhibition.

Petrobelli says "When Christian Dior approached me to re-invent their Lady Dior handbag for The Lady Dior As Seen By project, I really wanted to be able to re-invent the bag into a different functional object maintaining the iconic look.

I transformed the hand-bag into a portable lamp incorporating a glass volume based on my Module A wall lamp. Given the iconic honeycomb pattern of the bag it made sense including a small glass bee in the glass volume"

From the exhibition catalogue

Christian Dior the couturier and Christian Dior the perfumer are a secret to no one. but what about Christian Dior the aesthete, the collector and even the gallery owner? For it is a lesser known fact that before opening his couture house in 1947 and becoming the famous name we all know, Christian Dior was also keenly involved in the art world. The portrait of Dior by Bernard Buffet, which can be admired in the historic avenue Montaigne boutique store, bears testament to this in both glorious yet modest fashion, for christian Dior's commitment to the arts went well beyond patronage.

Between 1928 and 1934, he decided to open two galleries, the first with Jacques Bonjean. The second with Pierre Colle: together they presented the work of Max Ernst, Giorgio De Chirico and Man Ray. it was they who showed the "persistence of memory", commonly known as the "melting watches" by Salvador Dali, now in the Moma but virtually unknown at the time, and organised the four major Parisian exhibitions that marked the surrealist painter's beginning. they also boldly launched the first solo exhibitions of Leonor Fini and Alberto Giacometti, and supported alexander calder at the beginning of his career. alongside these young artists, who have all since been consecrated in art history, christian Dior and his two friends sold paintings by Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Andre Derain and Raoul Dufy, whose reputations were already established alongside his exhibiting and selling activities, Christian Dior also extensively bought works of these artists and created sincere bonds with them. he was close friends with Jean Cocteau, Rene Gruau, Max Jacob, Henri Sauguet and Christian Berard and frequented all the artistic "milieux" - from painting to music, sculpture and literature. He owned works by Pablo Picasso, Bernard Buffet and Aristide Maillol… "I bought every sketch by Christian Berard I could, his inspired panels too, and covered the walls of my room with them", he stated.

By presenting works created by one hundred international artists around the iconic Lady Dior handbag, the exhibition “Lady Dior as seen by" recalls the strong ties that Christian Dior always held with art. from young artists to well-known painters, photographers and visual artists the exhibition's curation and selection evidence the same curiosity and open-mindedness that made the reputation of the Jacques Bonjean and Pierre Colle galleries when they were partners with Christian Dior. The sheer coherency of “Lady Dior as seen by" is also the occasion to revive the very idea of a confident, assured art direction that stops at nothing, exactly the kind our three gallerists applied at the time, when focusing on surrealist painters and modern artists. launched in Shanghai in 2011 with over 50 original works, the exhibition has evolved as it travels, first to Beijing, Tokyo, Milan, then São Paulo and now to Hong Kong.

Instantly recognisable and intimately linked to people and events in recent history, the lady Dior handbag fits naturally into an artistic action. in 1995, the first lady of France, Bernadette Chirac, Offered it to Lady Diana, Princess of wales, who was visiting Paris to inaugurate the Paul Cézanne exhibition at the Grand Palais: how apt that it should make its first appearance in the art world. The princess ordered it in every possible model and the handbag instinctively found its name: Lady, Lady Di, Lady Dior. The charms, topstitched cannage motif and stylish hold of this handbag, an ultra-sophisticated creation at a time when minimalism was all the rage, already heralded the return to grand Parisian chic that fashion would only follow some time later.

Is that not the driving force of all creation - to be ahead of its time!
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