Few brands are as deeply embedded in handbag history as Dior. The house has been highly influential in every corner of the fashion industry, but again and again, it has managed to walk a very chic, very fine line with its leather goods design. Dior bags are always distinctive without resorting to gimmickry, and they’re classic but not staid. Somehow, they’re also new every season, with novel colorways and details that don’t so much as reinvent the already timeless designs as reimagine them time and again with new creativity. These are statement bags that make just as much of a statement on the day they’re purchased as they will when handed down to your daughter in several decades’ time. And trust us, your daughter will want them.
This sense of eternal but head-turning style has kept Dior bags top of mind for celebrities, Hollywood costume designers, and literal royalty for decades, and it has ensured that the brand’s bags keep popping up on the shoulders of the world’s most influential style stars without interruption. From Princess Diana’s beloved Lady Dior Bags to Carrie Bradshaw’s funky, scene-stealing Saddle Bags from Sex and the City, a Dior bag (or two, or three…) can be an asset to virtually any wardrobe, no matter your personal style.
Below, learn about the history of some of Dior’s most important bags and their most glamorous fans, starting—where else?—with the iconic Lady Dior.
Designed by the legendary Gianfranco Ferré, the Lady Dior originally made its debut in 1994, under the name Chouchou, which is French for darling or pet. The next year, before the bag had gone on sale to the public, it was presented to Princess Diana as a gift by the First Lady of France while on an official state visit, and it rarely left her side thereafter.
The bag—both the original gift and several more Diana collected— became a staple of Diana’s wardrobe during public appearances, and the design’s name was changed to Princesse in her honor. When her title changed, so did the bag’s—to the Lady Dior, which remains named to this day. Diana is the design’s spiritual godmother.
The Lady Dior’s name may have evolved over time, but the bag it represents has gone virtually unchanged. The design is simply that good—nearly 30 years after its debut, it still feels as elegant and special as ever, largely because of the bag’s impeccable details.
In its classic form, the Lady Dior is highly architectural and rendered in supple lambskin, detailed throughout with topstitching in the house’s iconic cannage motif, developed to evoke the cane chairs provided for guests at the first fashion show in Dior’s Paris salon. A pair of curved top handles match the bag’s structured feel, and the design is finished with an essential element of whimsy and playfulness: D.I.O.R charms.
The Lady D-Joy is a particularly modern variation of the Lady Dior, which updates the north-south proportions of the original to create a petite east-west handbag, which brings the timeless appeal of the original design to the mini bag proportions beloved by young women today. The Lady D-Joy can be carried by its classic top handles or by its leather and chain shoulder straps.
In 2000, Dior welcomed a fashionable new addition to its handbags lineup with the Saddle Bag, which quickly became a house staple. Designed by John Galliano, the bag pays tribute to the elegance of equestrian pursuits, but in an arch, modern way that typified Dior under Galliano’s design leadership. The bag’s distinctive, curvy lines and multitude of patterns and colors helped make it one of the original stars of the It Bag era—as did the adoration of Sarah Jessica Parker’s Sex and the City lead, who carried a chain-printed version in a particularly memorable season 5 episode that aired not long after the bag’s debut.
For fall-winter 2018-2019, Maria Grazia Chiuri reimagined the Saddle Bag for a new generation, and it became an immediate hit once again. Notably, the Saddle Bag now comes with a shoulder strap, adding versatility to its design. Chiuri has continued to tinker with the timeless shape, recasting it in new leathers, logos, prints, and embroideries with each passing season. The Saddle Bag looks iconically Dior throughout, proving just how well the design has always taken to new creative energy.
Dior’s newest classic is the Book Tote, designed by Maria Grazia Chiuri for a 2018 debut. It is a product of Dior’s Italian leather goods ateliers, and its structured, rectangular tote shape is simple but innovative. The Book Tote, with its tailored shape and spacious proportions, proved an immediate success, becoming a staple of luxury travel almost instantly.
The Book Tote is best known for its distinctive detailing, for which Dior developed a special tri-dimensional embroidery technique that is exclusive to the Maison. The toile is first reproduced by hand before being woven, which gives the bag a unique texture and distinctive optical effect—essentially, the embroidery becomes a textile all its own, which ensures that every inch of every bag is covered in distinctive Dior details, inside and out. Originally produced in Dior’s signature print, the bag now comes in many different versions, all finished with an iconic center stripe bearing the brand’s name. This combination of unique construction and all-over detailing means that the bag stands up well to regular use, both structurally and aesthetically.
Taken together, Dior’s classics are a handbag wardrobe unto themselves. A Lady Dior in a neutral color is smart for professional occasions, a Saddle Bag in a bright leather or fun print is perfect for a night out, and a Book Tote will be your elegant workhorse—ready at a moment’s notice when you have things to carry but do not want to appear encumbered. But the bags’ biggest advantage is their versatility; they can all be styled to meet your wardrobe needs in many different ways, and will serve you well for years. That’s the advantage of Dior’s design talent: You can be sure that when you invest in one of their bags, you’ll be able to enjoy it for years to come.