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How Christian Dior Is Training Its Next Generation of Craftsmen

The iconic haute couture maison has rolled out creative apprenticeship programmes across its business, hoping to attract young talent and maintain its savoir-faire.

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PARIS, France — Today, BoF presents the final element of its media partnership with Christian Dior, a film made by the iconic haute couture maison documenting the creative apprenticeships available within its business, and how they maintain its savoir-faire — the traditional French term for creative expertise.

“It is absolutely essential that we preserve this savoir-faire, in order to be able to offer our clients exceptional products,” says Emmanuelle Favre, director of human resources at Christian Dior Couture, who spearheaded the expansion of the initiative.

From leather goods to haute couture, ready-to-wear and more, the apprenticeship experience is made possible due to the generosity and support of highly experienced and unusually senior supervisors, who are charged with sharing their knowledge and providing daily support to their apprentices in the workplace. “We ourselves were able to learn here, and [our apprentices] will in turn pass on the savoir-faire,” adds Laurence, a seconde d’atelier Haute Couture. “It becomes like a real family,” says another of the haute couture apprentices.

As for how apprentices are developed at the company, Christian Dior engages the youngest members of its atelier team by expecting them to contribute creatively. "At the beginning we try to get them interested in lots of things, so that they can apply them as they have been taught, but then they have a creative and inventive part to play. We give them the opportunity to participate," says Cristina Batista, the seconde d'atelier flou.

"You get to work on a lot very quickly. There are pieces for the client, pieces for the show or prototypes," says Maurizio Liotti, Christian Dior's industrial director. "I don't have one tutor, I have ten or twelve!" says Julie, an apprentice at the Dior Homme ready-to-wear atelier. "I could never have believed it would be possible to work within a haute couture maison so quickly. I get to see each step in the making of a garment shown to me by a different tailor," she continues.

As Sidney Toledano, chief executive of Christian Dior, says, "You grow as a result of the people around you, your team. It is our task to transmit this to the next generation."

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