Inside the Dior sisterhood

An interview with our student Camilla Bani after experiencing Dior’s mentorship program

Interviews

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In 2017, Dior launched the first edition of Women@Dior, a yearlong mentoring program willed into reality by Maria Grazia Chiuri to support young female students of business, engineering, fashion and art from all over the world.

Business of Fashion undergraduate student Camilla Bani was among the selected by the French fashion house and recently travelled to Paris to spend a weekend of empowerment with the next round of talented mentees (including Polimoda student Greta Morelli) to share and draw on her own personal experience.

In terms of professional growth, how would you say you benefited from Women@Dior?

I learned a lot in general. In Italy, Maison Dior plays a huge part in the manufacturing of leather goods and accessories, so it was really nice to see how things work from the inside. From design to actual creation, bags and shoes require so many steps and procedures. To see the level of accuracy behind each manufacturing phase made me understand how indispensable they are to create such high-quality products and definitely made me more passionate about the luxury mentality. More in general, what I appreciated the most is that thanks to this experience I finally was able to start putting the pieces together and realized what I really enjoyed doing. I learned more about the various job profiles and the different roles you can take on within the industry, and this was essential to usher me further into the grown-up world.

Who was your mentor and how did her guidance change your perspective as well as help you improve and get closer to your goals over the course of your year together?

Beatrice Serlupi Crescenzi is great, she works for Christian Dior Couture in the product development of women leather goods here in Florence. This project helped me clear up the chaos in my mind. Before being selected for Women@Dior, I couldn’t decide what to focus on, what to choose for my future. Her suggestions were very simple but extremely efficient and I think that after a year of working on myself, I finally have an idea of what my professional and personal goals are. FINALLY.

Do you believe that it is important today for companies like LVHM and Dior to endorse female entrepreneurship and creativity as well as foster a sense of “community” in young aspiring fashion professionals from all over the world?

Yeah, definitely. I never thought that being a woman would have limited my possibilities. My parents always believed in me and pushed me to go for anything I wanted so I never thought there were boundaries. But there are, especially in management positions. Up until a few years ago, only 20% of managerial positions were assigned to women, which is crazy if you think about it. Now, also thanks to these kinds of projects, things are changing – the mentality is changing. I think it is important to underline that it is not about affirming that “women are better:” what we want to say is that we are as good, and both women and men should understand this and be aware of it.

As for the sense of community, it is absolutely essential. Before Polimoda, I didn’t really know how to work in a group. I learned that sharing your ideas with other people and true teamwork only improves them. Besides making you feel more stimulated and supported, communication between people and the sense of belonging that comes with a common vision are essential when it comes to creating a well-grounded project – and that is something that I witnessed in Paris. As we sat together, the room filled up with an incredible atmosphere and as a participant, I couldn’t help but feel excited, reassured and ready to tackle whatever came next.

The latest event welcomed 200 girls from all over the world – what struck you the most of this amazing group of people?

Passion. Every woman in there – mentors, mentees and professionals – were full of passion. Regardless of our background, regardless of where we were coming from, of our language and dreams, you could see that we were all there for the same reason: to give our passion a way to be expressed and to make a future out of it. We were all motivating each other, cheering each other on and really supporting each other. Sometimes people say that you have to think about yourself, which is true but can make you feel alone at times and humans are not made to be on their own. Being there, among other women that work in the industry, hearing their stories, their struggles and how they overcame them was very empowering.

How do you see the future of gender equality in the fashion industry?

After these two days I can only be enthusiastic and optimistic. Finally, as women, we learnt our worth and our value and the next step is to make the rest of the world understand it. Luckily for us, I think there are people out there doing an amazing job to achieve this.

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