“ I felt like a ghost wandering around". Svetlana Lloyd described seeing herself featured in the 2019 Dior Exhibition.
It is more than sixty years since she modelled and she is a vision of elegance and style.
She stood proudly in front of a full house for her V&A lunchtime lecture. ll attendees were eager to listen to her speak about her time working as a house model, or as she described it - "mannequin“ for Christian Dior in the 1950’s.
Svetlana spoke of her days modelling as if it was yesterday, her memories were so vivid and brought to life by the photos flashing by on the large screen behind her. A particularly highlight of her job was that after only two seasons she traveled to Australia to model one of Dior's final collections. As the only English speaker, Lloyd was interviewed extensively by local newspapers.
After an introduction about Christian Dior she went on to explain how she arrived at the 30 Avenue Montaigne, the home of Dior.
As a young woman Svetlana was a dancer with Sadlers Wells Dance Company. In 1956 her life completely changed after an accident meant she could no longer dance. She decided to go to Paris to cheer herself up and as she was passing Dior's salon she stopped to ask if there were any jobs going as she spoke several languages. Suddenly she was whisked off and put into a dress in front of Mr Dior who played an active role in the selection of mannequins. This was because he realised just how critical they were to his success. To her surprise she was immediately offered a job. The next four years of her life were spent at as a Dior "mannequin".
During the lecture she shared with us some incredible stories, including one about Monsieur Dior’s love of sweets and how they would be hidden in drawer away from him.
A fun time remembered was in the shot above which features Dior and Svetlana partying with Salon Staff in celebration of the patron saint of Seamstresses, St Catherine https://www.accentfrancais.com/blog/the-tradition-of-the-catherinettes . This was a particularly special time as it was the only time that the salons all closed .
The house of Dior recently shared on You Tube a film of Stephen Jones making hats for https://youtu.be/TP2fi2KRHd4St Catherines.
I listened in awe as I couldn’t quite believe that this incredible lady standing in front of the huge screen was one of the 'mannequins' in the some of the most famous photographs from the golden age of Paris Couture.
I took photos of absolutely every single image that flashed up on the screen as she spoke.
Having kept these for almost four years I was prompted to share with you after discovering that the talk was downloaded and is available to listen to for free on Soundcloud. I notice that it has been edited as it was over an hour long, which is a shame as some of the stories I enjoyed have been omitted, but it is still very a enjoyable listen.
After the Lecture closed I spoke to a lady sitting close to me who turned out to be Svetlana’s Niece. I said that I would love to read a biography of Svetlana’s life. She smiled and said I know, but there isn’t one. Evidently lots of people do ask Svetlana to write one but she always says no. She then surprised me and suggested that perhaps I would I ask too as it maybe helpful ? I obliged and unsurprisingly she dismissed the idea. Her Niece, who was watching, glanced at me and we both chuckled.
To listen the talk click on the link
Dior Svetlana Lloyd (Flickr) Photographs
Inside the House of Dior - A Models Memories
Stephen Jones Dior St Catherine's Day Celebrations in 2020
Lunchtime Lectures are regularly held at the V&A . Book via the website in advance (free).
More lectures from the series are available on Soundcloud
Yves Saint Laurent Trapeze Dress
St Catherine's Day Celebrated in 1964 in the Paris Atelier of Antonio de Castillo