PARIS, France — Since its eponymous founder revolutionised female style with his “New Look,” in 1947, the name Christian Dior has held a unique significance in French culture and the history of fashion. Acquired by Bernard Arnault in 1984, Christian Dior evolved into a global player, laying the foundation for the LVMH Group. It produces haute couture collections, women’s and men’s ready-to-wear, leather goods, shoes, childrenswear, accessories, jewellery and watches.
Despite the globalisation of the company, its strategy for success remains rooted in the creativity and savoir-faire that first distinguished its atelier. Applying the same couture standards of service and detail orientation to a global business, the company creates demanding working environments — dedicated to the pursuit of creative excellence and its commercial application. BoF sits down with Emmanuelle Favre, senior vice president of human resources, to learn more about a culture that inspires excellence and is dedicated to enabling its employees to produce it.
BoF: What defines the DNA of Christian Dior Couture today?
Dior is an Haute Couture maison and couture remains the key to the character of the brand and the company. To work at this kind of company really is an amazing experience. The designer’s studio and the couture atelier are in the Hôtel Particulier chosen by Mr Dior himself, and the company’s DNA remains rooted in its creativity and savoir-faire — underpinned by our company values of excellence, tenacity and passion. To work for Christian Dior Couture is to strive for excellence, always setting the bar high and never settling.
BoF: How does Christian Dior Couture share its culture with its employees?
In Paris our couture sensibility is immediately apparent — you can feel the essence of the brand, and we work hard to ensure that all of our employees are connected to it. There is a lot of communication and training about Mr Dior and the house’s history.
The new joiners benefit from a comprehensive on-boarding process, which identifies what the “Esprit Dior” is — and highlights the essentials that will equip them for success in their roles. Each employee is accompanied by the HR teams during his or her first year through multiple individual and group touch-points. We believe it takes time to discover the Dior universe and we aim to ensure that each employee is a true Dior Ambassador and proud of being part of a unique adventure.
BoF: What kind of employees does Christian Dior Couture look for?
We look for people with a lot of passion, emotion and an entrepreneurial mindset. We want people to be very proactive and responsible for what they are doing — to take initiative and push the envelope. As employees we must always question ourselves, push to be more creative and have new, fresh ideas — seek to go further to achieve excellence. Our client experience in store calls for sophisticated skills: people who understand our brand heritage, who are detail-oriented and are able to evolve in a very demanding environment.
Our working style is challenging: fast-pace collections, creative tensions, couture standard service and a results-driven culture. However our senior leaders keep close proximity to employees, which builds a strong commitment and sense of belonging at all levels. Christian Dior truly is a unique place to work: in the ateliers we have employees who have been with the company for 30 years, and we have begun welcoming a new generation. In the stores, we have multicultural teams. We strongly believe that diversity stimulates creativity; thus we foster a culture of inclusion and promote gender equality along people’s career path: as a result, women represent 62 percent of our regional leadership teams.
BoF: What training and career opportunities are available?
We invest a lot in training, developing and engaging our teams. Training is provided at all levels to broaden everyone’s skills and experience. Our internal retail school, the “Dior Academy,” ensures trainers are in the field with teams, all over the world. We have built a specific management-training programme for our managers, and our senior leaders can also attend leadership programs led by the LVMH Group. Having integrated the whole cycle of value chain and thanks to our strong presence in many regions (Europe, Asia, US and Middle East), we can offer international career opportunities in various functions (retail, design, merchandising, clienteling, supply chain), within Christian Dior and also within LVMH Group. Annual talent reviews, including career conversations, are conducted to track development and foster “made to measure” careers.
The Retail teams are a big part of our workforce: a structured 'Retail Career Path' exists for those with long-term ambitions in the company and a trainee programme for graduates (Business, Engineer Schools and MBA), consisting of 18 months of store experience, embracing the richness and complexity of retail operations, before evolving into more senior management roles.
BoF: What talent needs does Dior currently have?
Dior is an employer of choice in many of the 50 markets in which it is present, however we sometimes face a talent shortage to support our international growth. More than 1,200 employees are recruited every year to meet the needs of our new boutique openings, our growth and to offset the natural turnover we see. We have vertically integrated all the metiers — from the first sketch all the way to the client — so there are a multitude of opportunities for the right kind of talent.
We are constantly scanning the market for the very best talent in all domains. Beyond an expertise, we seek profiles with special personalities who can reflect both the modernity and heritage of our brand codes, while staying emotionally connected to Christian Dior’s DNA.
There are few sectors of the economy that offer as wide and interesting a range of career opportunities as fashion. For more information about fashion industry roles at Christian Dior, visit BoF Careers.