Local creative Chris Soal has turned found-objects into Dior handbags

The famed French fashion house has once again invited artists from around the globe to reinvent their iconic Lady Dior bag

22 November 2020 - 00:02
Chris Soal's mom had a Lady Dior bag when he was born.
Chris Soal's mom had a Lady Dior bag when he was born.
Image: Tshego Mako

There are many fashion moments that Princess Diana left etched in our memories. The late royal's go-to pieces even made it into the wardrobes of women here in Mzansi.

Local artist Chris Soal's mother was one of the many ladies who appreciated Princess Di's style. She even sported her own Lady Dior bag.

“I remember her telling me about Princess Diana, who was one of the most prominent figures to have the Lady Dior bag when it premiered in 1994. That was the year I was born,” says Soal, who is known for turning found objects into beautiful art pieces.

Decades later, Soal has honoured his mother's elegant style through a collaboration called Dior Lady Art.

Now in it's fifth edition, this initiative sees the famed French fashion house invite artists around the globe to reinvent their iconic Lady Dior bag.

The project is spearheaded by Dior's creative director, Maria Grazia-Chiuri, who recently discovered and fell in love with Soal's work. At just 26 years old, he's the youngest artist to collaborate with the label.

As a student, Soal often worked with found bottle caps, which he painted gold as an inexpensive way to make art and also to reference the polluted City of Gold that is Johannesburg.

He used this same concept in his Dior Lady Art collaboration, folding the bottle tops into the shape of cowrie shells to create gorgeous embellishments for a pair bags. As a nod to his love of cheeky humour, Soal also replaced the “o” in the Dior signature with a bottle opener.

You'd be forgiven for thinking the bottle cap embellishments on this pair of Lady Dior bags by Chris Soal were cowrie shells.
You'd be forgiven for thinking the bottle cap embellishments on this pair of Lady Dior bags by Chris Soal were cowrie shells.
Image: Supplied

For his final Lady Dior creation, he turned to toothpicks, which is another unusual material he's used to great effect in his artworks. He's kept them in their plastic wraps to keep the owner of the bag from being pricked, and arranged them in such a way that their raw-looking texture could be mistaken for fur from a distance.

Chris Soal embellished this Lady Dior bag with toothpicks.
Chris Soal embellished this Lady Dior bag with toothpicks.
Image: Supplied

Says Soal of his collaboration with Dior: “The world of fashion and art are not as separate as many purists would imagine. Everyone who goes to art exhibitions likes to dress up. In all creative endeavours there's a cross-pollination of different ideas, genres and discipline

“I think it's a wonderful way for art to jump off the wall and into everyday life. My work takes the banal and mass-produced elements of life and makes you see them in a new way — that's what's made this collaboration feel like it' s brought me full circle.”

Soal is currently working on upcoming solo exhibitions, which will be held at WHATIFTHEWORLD gallery in Cape Town in January, and Nirox in Gauteng in February 2021.