Africa Rising
October 17, 2019

Renowned South African artist Athi-Patra Ruga has collaborated with international legacy fashion house Dior. The collaboration forms part of the Dior Lady Art project, which every year, sees creatives from all over the world reimagine the label's iconic Lady Dior bag. Ruga designed two bags for the project.

Now in the fourth edition of the capsule collection, Ruga, who hails from Umtata in the Eastern Cape, joins artists such as Rina Banjerjee, Maria Nepomuceno, Mickalene Thomas, Jia Lee and Eduardo Terrazas, as the latest league of participants. In their unique interpretations of the bag, which draws from their cultural roots, the group showcased a variety of techniques, including quilting, embroidery, patchwork and printing, suggesting a resurgence of textile art in indeed on the rise, and transferring it to the realms of couture.

When designing for Dior, Ruga went against the philosophy of "rawness" that he believes is dominant in modern art. “I think that’s the modernist curse: If it’s too beautiful, it’s not art. For me, I find there’s just something so punk about high fashion and high craftsmanship, which is one of the cornerstones of both my studio and the Dior studio,” he told WWD.

In one of his designs, Ruga pays hommage to founder Christian Dior, by adorning a blue lambskin leather bag with a quilted motif inspired by the designer's acclaimed Junon gown. His second design features a 3-D self portrait composed of pearls, surrounded by a framework of crystals, fabric and metal flowers embroidered onto a black background.