Three first year LCF students have been selected to take part in Women @ Dior, an innovative mentoring programme launched by Christian Dior as part of International Women’s Day on 8 March 2017.

Dior initiated the Women @ Dior programme as, ‘a mentorship for young female students to help empower them in the workplace and raise their confidence in their own potential’. Maria Grazia Chiuri, Artistic Director at Dior, spoke about the programme on DIORMAG said: “I have a daughter of twenty to whom I am very close. Thanks to her I am in contact with a new generation of women, a generation that can finally be players in the world. This makes me want to make fashion with them, accompanying them through their transformations.”

Ellery Romanko – BA Fashion Public Relations and Communications, Jeanne Mehta – BA Fashion Design Technology: Menswear and Alice Khor – BA Fashion Design and Development, will each be mentored by a young female professional working at Dior. All under the age of 30, these mentors will contribute to the student mentees career development over the space of a year, finally gathering in Paris for a global closing event in March 2018.

We spoke to Ellery, Jeanne and Alice to hear more about the programme and their experience so far:

Why did you apply for the Women @ Dior mentoring programme?

Alice“There are two main reasons for why I pounced on the opportunity to be part of this Women @ Dior program. Firstly, I have always been fond of the house of Dior and seeing that they have appointed their first ever female artistic director shows the company’s stand on gender equality. Moreover, networking and having received guidance from young women working at Dior will definitely help me build a clearer idea of the possibilities of my future career within the fashion industry.”

Who is your mentor?

Alice“My mentor is Teresa Baile, Administrative Manager at Dior Sloane Street. She is energetic, encouraging and really friendly.”

Jeanne“My mentor, Julie Kayl, works as a trainee Retail Manager at Christian Dior couture in Selfridges in the Menswear Department. She was very enthusiastic and excited about this program as she works in exactly what she wanted after being selected for a different mentoring program at Dior.”

Ellery“My mentor is Maria Barratt, she is currently the Press Coordinator for Christian Dior Couture.”

Tell us about your experience so far.

Jeanne “The programme started just a week and a half ago but we were invited to visit the new Dior boutique in New Bond Street, to meet our mentor, the other mentees selected and of course all the people behind the mentoring programme. We had a very interesting talk with four successful women in the fashion industry who gave advice and shared their experiences as influential women. As mentees we felt very privileged and honoured to be there in such a context.”

Alice“As the launching event for the Women @ Dior program was the first networking event I have ever gone to, I felt quite anxious but excited at the same time. During the event, I have spoken to many inspiring working women from local as well as international branches of the company. They gave helpful advice on the skills and experiences I should equip myself with to prepare myself for working within the fashion industry. A memorable topic guest speakers talked about during the event was how there is no ‘one’ right path to success. And also, a good attitude and being persistent can go a long way.

What will you gain from having an industry mentor?

Ellery –I hope to gain further knowledge of the industry, as well as insight into where my career may go. I am also excited at the prospect of creating relationships with other likeminded and creative women.”

Jeanne“I think that I will gain self-confidence from having advice and support from a Dior professional. It will be the opportunity to ask questions about how to act and think more professionally, how to present my design and to whom. I think it will be a great opportunity to meet people from the high-end design industry and perhaps to know better how to attract their attention. I will also gain in knowledge from another perspective and department from the one I am studying. I think it will give me a better understanding of a haute couture house and, I hope, improve my way of designing.”

 How valuable is mentoring to students wanting to get into the industry today?

Jeanne “I feel incredibly lucky to have a mentor for she has first-hand experience on what life and work within the fashion industry is like. Moreover, both being motivated young women, mentors and mentee are able to relate to each other’s struggles and concerns. Therefore, the mentors’ advice will be really relevant and helpful.”

How do you think your LCF experience to-date will support you in this programme?

Ellery “When I began at LCF, I was studying on the International Introduction to the Study of Fashion FE course. This allowed me to grow a network of friends from all around the world as well as cover a multitude of pathways including media, business, and design. These helped to expand my knowledge of industry, and allowed me to continue building connections and relationships with other students and industry professionals. Now as I study on the BA Public Relations and Communications course I feel as though I have a stronger foundation to best utilise my capabilities in the industry.”