A few months ago now, (yes, it’s taken me a while to actually get round to writing this blog post), I headed off to Paris with a brand I have admired ever since I became interested in fashion. DIOR! Yes, you read that right. Little small town Maisie got whisked away to Paris with Dior, for 48 hours of being completely immersed in the house of Dior and feminism. *Eeeeek*
Let’s quickly fast forward to exactly a year before this once in a lifetime trip happened and how I found myself there in the first place. I was sat in class at The Fashion Retail Academy where we were told to celebrate International Women’s Day, Dior were launching a programme for women fashion students and although I knew not much more than that at the time, I knew I really wanted it. So I applied and next thing I knew I was sat in Dior’s head office reception in London, petrified. I was so scared in fact that I came out of the interview and had convinced myself that I was not going to get it, and to my surprise a week later I had received an invite to the launch event. I had officially been accepted onto the first ever Women at Dior global programme and I was over the moon and still feel like someone needs to pinch me!
I think, although I always play it down, being accepted onto this programme is probably one of my proudest achievements, especially because I was the only girl globally who didn’t have a traditional degree. Deciding to not go to uni, so far anyway, has definitely not held me back. (I’m going to write a 1 year post FRA & not going to uni update very soon.)
So Women at Dior, a programme set to continue every year, is a programme for women aspiring to pursue careers in fashion. Women from all over the world are matched up with a mentor currently working at Dior, across all areas of the business from logistics to store managers (like my own one was), and you spend the year learning not only about Dior but also yourself with career development and general life inspo. I’ve took part in a breakfast with talks from amazing women in the industry, attended a talk about fashion history, spent a day in store and of course, I went to Paris! You can read much more about it from Dior themselves here, and keep an eye out for next year’s programme if you are a young fashion student because it’s been amazing.
Planning outfits for this trip was most possibly the most stressful experience ever and led to many ASOS orders (and returns), because what do you wear to a Dior event when you don’t own one piece of Dior!? I stressed about it but in the end I came to the conclusion that fashion is a personal choice and as long as I felt comfortable, that was what mattered more. We were all there because we were women aspiring to be taken seriously in the fashion industry, there was more to worry about than my shoes! (In the photo above, my boots were actually Primark!)
So I packed a suitcase, far too big for 2 days, and boarded the Eurostar to Paris, spending the journey snacking on some Dior M&Ms were given! (Soooo extra.) I arrived in Paris to a beautiful hotel room on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées where I was greeted with an invitation and a white rose.
Over the next 2 days we were divided up into groups where they mixed all the different countries together, so I was able to get to know so many amazing women from so many different cultures and talk about everything from studying, to how different apparently UK fashion is to the rest of Europe! We attended various talks, from career development, to public speaking, to ones directly from Dior such as styling a capsule wardrobe. As I currently work in fashion watches and jewellery, I found the talk about couture accessories fascinating. The thought of a watch costing hundreds of millions insane!
Another highlight for me was the tour of the Dior archive in Paris. I’m a massive fashion history nerd, so getting to see real Dior pieces and hear their stories was amazing.
The two days in Paris were intense and each day I was absolutely exhausted, so much so that I ended up leaving the Women at Dior launch party ridiculously early because of how tired I was and to maybe get a McDonalds… But spending two days immersed in the house of Dior was topped off with a talk and Q&A from Creative Director Maria Grazia Chiuri, who I have loved every since I saw her first collection for Dior. I could gush about her, and the other amazing women I met over the two days but I don’t want to make this post too long! (I already feel I’m waffling, or it might be the fact I’m writing this with a killer cold?!)
Women at Dior was one of those ‘pinch me’ experiences and I feel extremely fortunate that I was one of those selected to represent the UK in Paris. It’s been an incredible year immersed in Dior alongside the most inspiring other students, who I know will all go on to kick fashion butt and have amazing careers. If you are in the position to apply for this programme please do, because not only do you get to be involved with one of the best fashion houses in the world, employers also love it and it just gives you that extra edge when applying for those first jobs in the industry.
I can’t thank Dior enough for believing in me, for matching me with the loveliest mentor, the once in a lifetime trip to Paris, oh’ and my ‘we should all be feminists’ t-shirt. Feminism has been a huge trend in fashion, but unlike many other brands who have just used feminism for fashion’s sake, Dior have gone one step further by actively involving themselves in women empowerment and to inspire dreams. That’s pretty lovely if you ask me, don’t you think?
Until next time,