Lady Dior in Duesseldorf

Lady Dior is a star. And no, she is not a lady but a best-selling handbag. Dior brought its 'Lady Dior As Seen By' exhibition to the Langen Foundation

Dior is a special brand. And there are many reasons for it. First of all, it’s the only house that has actually managed to shape two clear brand identities for men and women. Dior Homme under Kris Van Assche is a still growing business and also one of the highlights of the Paris men’s season. Van Assche is a master of street smart tailoring with an uncanny talent for luxury goods. Not only does he make good suits and sportswear but also fine shoes and bags, which sell extremely well.

Lady Dior Exhibition in Duesseldorf
The ‘Lady Dior As Seen By’ exhibition was held at Langen Foundation near Duesseldorf. (Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images for Dior)

But then, also the Dior women’s collection is a highlight of the women’s ready to wear and Haute Couture season. Maybe Hermès is on a similar level but in general big houses do not achieve to match the desirability of the women’s brand with men’s or vice versa. The recent show by Serge Ruffieux and Lucie Meier for women’s ready to wear was so strong and focused that one can imagine them having the job for a little bit longer as the market for outstanding new talent is limited. But again, this just shows that Dior, the brand is bigger than its individual designer, no matter what the name might be.


Lady Dior Exhibition in Duesseldorf
The Lady Dior handbag is hidden on a heap of stones, shot by Alec Soth

The first show after John Galliano proved that when CEO Sidney Toledano took the micro before the show to announce that the atelier had created the collection. Yes, there was super talent Bill Gaytten behind the scenes but still, the name of the house mattered more than the name of the designer. And this seems to hold true post-Raf Simons as well. But how is this done?

Lady Dior Exhibition in Duesseldorf
German actress Hannah Herzsprung at the ‘Lady Dior As Seen By’ exhibition opening cocktail and dinner at the Langen Foundation in Neuss (Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images for Dior)

The recent ‘Lady Dior As Seen By’ exhibition at the magnificent Langen Foundation by Japanese architect Tadao Ando seems to give a clue. There, the best of Duesseldorf’s society and Germany’s actresses mingled to witness an exhibition of a selection of top artists who re-interpreted the Lady Dior bag. The brand also just opened a new flagship in Eickhoff’s old store. And here is maybe the recipe for success: focus on institutional campaigns and events as much as on fashion shows.

Lady Dior Exhibition in Duesseldorf
Swiss artist Olympia Scarry with her interpretation of the Lady Dior handbag (Photo by Simon Menges)