The story behind Princess Diana’s favourite bag

It was given to her by the French First Lady

Princess Diana Necklace Auction
(Image credit: Rex Features (Shutterstock))

It was given to her by the French First Lady

You've probably all heard about Dior's iconic Lady Dior bag, one of the most popular designer handbags of all time and Princess Diana's favourite. But do you know the story behind it?

For instance, did you know it wasn't actually created for Diana, but rather renamed in her honour?

You see, it was first launched in 1994 with no official name. In September 1995, the Lady Dior bag was given to Diana Princess of Wales by France’s First Lady, Bernadette Chirac, on the occasion of her visit to the Cézanne exhibition at the Grand Palais in Paris, sponsored by the LVMH group.

princess diana lady dior

The house of Dior’s latest creation was immediately adopted by the Princess, who ordered it in every available version.

In November 1995, during her visit to a children’s home in Birmingham, Princess Diana was photographed by the international press with the bag, holding a child in her arms. A few weeks later, during a state visit to Argentina, she appeared again with her favourite bag leaving the official plane.

It was then that the Lady Dior bag became associated with the world’s most publicised woman. In 1996, as a homage to the Princess, it was renamed 'Lady Dior' with her blessing.

princess diana lady dior

Created in a couture spirit, the Lady Dior bag in padded stitched leather reflects a number of the Dior house codes. The stitching pattern or cannage is inspired by the Napoléon III chairs once used by Christian Dior to welcome his customers on the day of his show in 1947. The letters D.I.O.R. on charm pendants act as an eternal signature.

Over the years, several celebrities have been the face of Lady Dior, including first Carla Bruni in 1996, and later Diane Kruger, Monica Bellucci and today Marion Cotillard. It remains the iconic bag of the house of Dior today.

princess diana lady dior

'Real luxury requires the best materials and the best craftsmanship,' Christian Dior declared. And so, in the house’s ateliers, each Lady Dior is made by hand. Everything starts with the manual cutting out of the leathers. The pieces are then assembled, moulded around a wooden form and sewn together with precision. The charms, the four Dior letters, are also shaped by hand.

And in case you were in any doubt of the luxurious quality of the handbag, know that one hundred and forty distinct pieces are necessary to make a Lady Dior. Impressive.

Penny Goldstone

Penny Goldstone is the Digital Fashion Editor at Marie Claire, covering everything from catwalk trends to royal fashion and the latest high street and Instagram must-haves.

Penny grew up in France and studied languages and law at the Sorbonne Nouvelle University in Paris before moving to the UK for her MA in multimedia journalism at Bournemouth University. She moved to the UK permanently and has never looked back (though she does go back regularly to stock up on cheese and wine).

Although she's always loved fashion - she used to create scrapbooks of her favourite trends and looks, including Sienna Miller and Kate Moss' boho phase - her first job was at, sourcing the best deals for everything from restaurants to designer sales.

However she quit after two years to follow her true passion, fashion journalism, and after many years of internships and freelance stints at magazines including Red, Cosmopolitan, Stylist and Good Housekeeping, landed her dream job as the Digital Fashion Editor at Marie Claire UK.

Her favourite part of the job is discovering new brands and meeting designers, and travelling the world to attend events and fashion shows. Seeing her first Chanel runway IRL at Paris Fashion Week was a true pinch-me moment.