Oct 29, 2018 | By Alice Gividen
Dec 15, 2017
By WGSN Insider
Fashion and art have always been engaged in a successful love story. We’ve witnessed over the years, as these collaborations make the impossible possible – think: Louis Vuitton and Stephen Sprouse (2001), Yves Saint Laurent and Mondrian (1965), Virgil Abloh and Jenny Holtzer (2017)- each collab giving birth to the most interesting products. The reason these partnerships work, is that the luxury houses have paired up well, resulting in a win-win for all concerned. The artist gets their name out beyond (the often elitist) art world and the fashion house gets the instant prestige of being seen outside of the realms of retail and commerce, with an inspiring contemporary relevance.
Dior is the latest luxury label to team up with a selection of artists. This year, Namsa Leuba and nine other artists (John Giorno, Lee Bul, Friedrich Kunath, Spencer Sweeney, Jack Pierson, Jamilla Okubo, Hong Hao, Betty Mariani and David Wiseman) have been invited by Dior to reinterpret the classic “Lady Dior” bag. A little history here: the “Lady Dior” bag was originally designed in 1995 and renamed “Lady” after Princess Diana. The bag was given to her by Bernadette Chirac -France’s First Lady then- as a gift.
Namsa Leuba is a Swiss Guinean art director and photographer living between Europe and Africa. In my opinion she is ideal for this collaboration. If you haven’t heard of her, definitely check out her work, she’s been widely published in everything from I-D Magazine to Numéro and Wallpaper. Her art has also been exhibited everywhere from the Daegu Photo Biennale in South Korea to the Athens Photo festival. In my opinion, the creative and almost magic world of Namsa offers a unique aesthetic between documentary, fashion and performance. Always diving into new projects she continues her deeply personal exploration of cultural appropriation, and how Africa is perceived in the West.
To create these two Dior models, Namsa was inspired by the very colourful and graphic paintings of Ndebele people living in Zimbabwe and South Africa. As with all great art there were some punishing challenges to overcome, and the end result is all the better for it. The Dior atelier had to develop a special technique, using more than 300 hours of handmade work to create of the bags.
Speaking to Le Temps’ T Magazine, Namsa said: “It was a beautiful experience. I’ve been spoiled by Dior. They gave me the green light and let me do whatever I wanted to do. A team came to see me in Switzerland with fabric samples and I’ve been able to choose every details. From the colours of the handles and the lining to the metal letters charms.” When asked how she felt about people wearing her creations, which are on sale now, she said: “It is a crazy sensation. It gives me goose bumps!!”
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