One of the major fashion trends this year was undoubtedly the Dior Saddle Bag, with its unique and striking design, the accessory provided nostalgia for the definitive Dior designs at the turn of the century. While the Saddle Bag has become a staple of the Dior brand, it has gone through quite a journey to become the iconic piece of fashion seen on runways today.
Dior’s former creative director, John Galliano, introduced the Saddle Bag as part of Christian Dior’s Spring 2000 collection. Galliano was appointed by Bernard Arnault in 1997 to lead Dior’s creative team; the chairman applauded Galliano’s “extraordinary mixture of romanticism, feminism and modernity” that honoured the classic Dior style. The Saddle Bag appeared with a series of equestrian-inspired looks that featured elements of denim and horse-bit buckle belts. As its name suggests, Galliano was inspired by the horse-riding saddles to create the curved, asymmetrical shape that the bag is renowned for.
By 2001, the Saddle Bag was a staple of high status and featured on the arms of some of the most prominent celebrities of the era. This was reflected in Dior’s accessories sales, which increased by 60% for that calendar year. As a result of this success, Galliano would release several highly collectable designs for the Saddle Bag, such as the iconic house Oblique pattern, leopard print, and the Christian Dior Daily newspaper print.
After working with Dior for a decade, Galliano honoured his career with the House by producing a limited series of 12 new Saddle Bag designs. Each bag was dedicated to a country that inspired Galliano over his ten years as creative director; this included the USA, China, Argentina, England, Mexico, Russia, Spain, Morocco, Egypt, Japan, France, and India. The extravagant motifs and patterns featured in this collection have made them a highly desired piece in many collections as a testament to the detail and craftsmanship of Dior at this time.
After a controversy in 2007, Galliano was dismissed from his role and the Saddle Bag was retired from the Dior runway for more than a decade. This was until Maria Grazia Chiuri took the helm and dipped into Dior’s archives for the Fall 2018 collection with an updated Oblique design, beaded fringe, patchwork denim and grained leather. The reintroduction of the Saddle Bag saw a few modifications that met the needs and desires of the contemporary market, with bigger proportions and a functional crossbody strap. The appeal was immediate as customer searches for pre-owned Saddle Bags increased by 957% within 48 hours of its runway return and months before the reissue bags’ official release.
The following year, Kim Jones introduced the Saddle Bag to Dior’s menswear line. Debuting in the Spring/Summer 2019 collection, Jones collaborated with Matthew Williams from Alyx Studios to create a refined and industrial design featuring a jacquard stripe with the inscription ‘Christian Dior’. As well as the classic leather purse, this collection also reinterpreted the Saddle into backpack and belt bag variations. Jones also included the Saddle Bag in Dior’s Pre-Fall show in Tokyo, where he joined forces again with Matthew Williams and Japanese artist and illustrator Hajime Sorayama to produce a limited-edition design. This iteration featured exaggerated mechanical and robotic elements inspired by Sorayama’s artwork, leaning more towards a piece of art than a functional accessory. This piece is expected to be a highly desirable addition to many collections, with estimated prices on the second-hand market starting at $30,000. The most recent release of The Saddle comes from Jones’ collaboration with the rapper Travis Scott as part of the 2022 Summer Collection. This reinterpretation revisits the original equestrian inspiration, with the combination of steel hardware with black and brown leather symbolising the image of the Texas cowboy.
The most prominent versions of the Dior Saddle Bags are made with leather or the Oblique jacquard material. A variety of these styles are available across Dior stores and can also be purchased from their online domain with prices starting at $6,700. Both leather and Oblique jacquard Saddle Bags require minimal maintenance as the material can easily be cleaned and dusted using a microfibre cloth. Although, like all leather goods, it is important to use a leather conditioner to ensure there is little wear over time and protect the bag from seasonal changes. By maintaining the Saddle Bag in its dust bag and stuffing it when not in use, the accessory is guaranteed to last as a luxury fashion staple for years to come.