AUTUMN AUCTION FEATURES 11 ARTIST-INSPIRED LADY DIOR BAGS FROM THE COLLECTOR’S FASHION-FORWARD ASSEMBLAGE
By Barbara Tunick
Before Tatiana Graham had “a basketball team of kids,” she double majored in art and biochemistry in college. “I was passionate about art and design, but I needed something to support myself,” she says. Eventually, Graham became a dentist, got married, had five kids, gave up her practice and became a full-time mom. That is, until a family trip to Paris reignited her love of fashion and art. “I fell in love with the Parisian fashion houses,” she says. “My first purchase was Dior. I love the design, the story, the history.”
The first time I saw the artist collaborations, I fell in love with the uniqueness of each of the bags. I couldn’t decide which I wanted, so I bought three!”
Graham became especially enthralled by the Dior Lady Art project, which was born in 2016 when Dior invited seven artists to reimagine and reinvent its most iconic bag: the Lady Dior. (Originally called the Chouchou, the bag was renamed in honor of Princess Diana nearly 20 years earlier.)
“The first time I saw the artist collaborations, I fell in love with the uniqueness of each of the bags,” she says. “I couldn’t decide which I wanted, so I bought three!” Soon after, Graham was back in Paris for her first Dior fashion show. She was so inspired by the showroom that she designed her own two-story Dior closet at home to look just like it – complete with an identical iron railing.
Dior’s first collection of limited-edition, artist-inspired bags captured attention around the world. Now, season after season, a new group of world-renowned artists is chosen to transform Lady Dior into their own wearable work of art. The artists – who have included the likes of Mickalene Thomas, Song Dong, Daniel Gordon and Matthew Porter – are never given directions or limitations. It’s up to them to decide if they want to continue to pull the thread of history that runs through each bag – from the metallic charms inspired by the lucky charms adored by Christian Dior to the signature quilting that echoes the pattern of the Napoleon III chairs on which guests would sit during runway shows.
Each season, Graham purchased at least one Dior Lady Art bag to display in her showroom. “I’d research each artist and learn as much as I could about their art before choosing a bag,” she says. “Over the years, it’s become about more than the bags. I’ve become friends with one of the artists, Gigisue, and started collecting Ian Davenport’s art.”
While Graham had no plans to stop collecting pieces from the Dior Lady Art project, a recent move with her family meant she no longer had an ideal place to showcase her handbags. “You can’t keep bags like that in boxes,” she says. “They need to be seen. It’s been so much fun, and I love my bags, but it’s time to move on.”
As a result, Heritage Auctions is offering all 11 of Graham’s Dior Lady Art bags in its October 6 Autumn Luxury Accessories Signature® Auction.
The limited-edition handbags in Graham’s collection, which includes pieces by 11 distinctively different artists from every year the artist-inspired bags have been created, range from the whimsical multicolor and three-dimensional Medium Lady Dior by Gigisue, featuring a painting embellished with crystals and silk flowers, to the dramatic Medium Lady Dior by Kohei Nawa, which features black metallized matte leather adorned with bold red PVC patterns filled with red gel.
Other bags in the collection are as groundbreaking as they are eye-catching, including the vibrant multicolor patent leather Mini Lady Dior by Ian Davenport, which hails from the first year of the Dior Lady Art project, and the sculptural, wavelike Medium Lady Dior by Marguerite Humeau, Dior’s first 3D-printed bag.
“I hope someone buys the entire collection since there’s one bag from every artist collaboration,” Graham says. “Each one is so rare and has a story of its own, but together, their story is even bigger.”
BARBARA TUNICK is a contributor to Intelligent Collector.