Bernard Arnault gave Givhan a tour of his LVMH fashion empire over Couture Week. In the absence of Galliano or another figurehead, Arnault and his deputies placed particular emphasis on the importance of behind-the-scenes workers who have kept Dior rolling.
For instance, meet Lili Nassar:
During a recent visit to the Dior atelier, I met Lili Nassar, a plump, brown-skinned Frenchwoman with a bashful smile who has been at Dior for 38 years. She came to Paris from Africa and studied at the Ecole de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture, which produces the countrys skilled seamstresses and tailors. She was only 21 when she joined the atelier, working under designers Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferré, and, of course, Galliano. She has outlasted them all.
When Galliano first arrived, he had to adapt, not the atelier. He didnt sketch; his ideas were fragments in his head. People like Nassar helped coax them into reality.
A lot of schools produce designers, but the technical peoplethis is what we have to protect, Sidney Toledano, the Dior chief executive, told me. They work very hard here, and they live outside of Paris. They are not living like the designer. They are simple people. Some of them have a difficult life. They have their feet on the ground.
In short, Toledano said, Theyre sustaining the house.
Arnault goes on to compare a designer-less Dior to a conductor-less Vienna Philharmonic. His choice of simile and ushering of tailors such as Nassar to the forefront suggests that top Dior brass want to emphasise heritage and continuity, rather than encourage another designer to indulge his bolder-than-bold personality.