In 1999, Pokemon fever gripped the U.S., Serena Williams was the most talked about tennis player in the country and Jeff Bezos and Amazon were in the news. It was also the year the wildly popular Saddle Bag from Christian Dior made its debut.
Fast forward 19 years later, and not much has changed.
It’s a love or love to hate kind of thing, but thanks to clever marketing and coveted celebrity endorsements, the Dior Saddle Bag is back in style and rising in popularity in the resale market.
How exactly did we get here? And how did the Dior bag get its start anyway?
The Dior Saddle Bag was the brainchild one of the most well-known and sometimes controversial designers in the fashion world, John Galliano. Appointed head designer of Givenchy in 1995, he became the first British designer to lead a French haute couture house, but two years after his appointment, he moved onto Christian Dior, becoming Gianfranco Ferré’s successor for the fashion house established in 1946 in Paris.
Drawing from popular culture, as well as film and art, Galliano incorporated historical and international elements into his collections, drawing inspiration from Russian aristocracy, A Streetcar Named Desire and U.S. space exploration.
But in 1999, Galliano presented his Spring/Summer 2000 collection and debuted the equestrian-inspired saddle bag, solidifying its place in bag lore forever. The bag had staying power, appearing the following year in a show which, included fur coats worn other leather dresses with DIOR necklaces and cropped denim jackets “all accessorized with the versions of last season’s successful kidney-shaped saddle bag,” The Guardian opined.
It then appeared in the third season of Sex and the City, with Carrie Bradshaw wearing a pink and white version. The bag was off to the races at that point.
In 2003, Paris Hilton – the “It” girl of the 2000s, got hold of the the “It” bag of the time, contributing to the saddle bag craze that Galliano started four years earlier. In 2007, Galliano unveiled 12 limited edition saddle bags, with each one representing a country.
“T,” The New York Times Style Magazine called the saddlebag the “jewel in Dior’s leather-goods crown since it first appeared in 1999,” and how “its shape and giant CD hardware trickled down from a couture collection dedicated to English sporting life by way of The Matrix.”
“It was the first bag I created here at the house of Dior, and she’s still with us,” Galliano told the magazine. But like all good things, the time for the Dior Saddle bag to end had arrived. By the next year, interest in the bag waned, and prices dropped. Galliano left Dior in 2011 following a drunk, anti-Semitic outburst he had in Paris, and was ultimately replaced by Belgian fashion designer Raf Simons, who steered the helm at Dior for three and a half years.
The Dior Saddle bag seemed destined to be lost in archives of bag history forever, if it wasn’t for Beyonce (isn’t it always Beyonce?), who decided to whip out a now vintage iteration of the Dior bag in 2014 while prancing around NYC.
She chose a limited edition Saddle Bag made of blue and black pony hair, with patent leather accents and the large, iconic Dior “D,” but it took several years for the world – and Dior – to catch onto Bey’s trend starting ways.
In 2018, Dior’s creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri – the first woman to lead creative in the label’s history – brought the Saddle Bag bag for Dior’s Fall 2018 Ready to Wear show in Paris.
Whereas Galliano’s original version had a litany of socialite celebrities famous for being famous to spread the word around, this most current reincarnation of the bag has the digital version of that: Instagram.
When the bags eventually launched in July, Dior’s marketing went into overdrive, recruiting over 100 international influencers to post their best photos modeling the bag.
In August, even the New York Post got in on the action, declaring that the “Kooky Sex and the City Look is Cool Again.”
With nostalgia for the 90s and early aughts at an all time high, it really was inevitable that the Dior Saddle Bag would make a comeback, but Dior’s “global Instagram blitz” as Bloomberg called it, doesn’t exactly hurt.
Whether you love it or hate it – it’s a great time to buy and sell the Dior Saddle Bag – searches for it have gone up astronomically since its release. If you’ve got one in excellent condition hiding in the back of your closet, you can safely resurrect it to wear or list it on StockX. If you missed the boat the first time around on Galliano’s iconic bag, you can see available Dior Saddle Bags here.