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"The Glamorous Life: Behind the Scenes as a House Model for Christian Dior with Svetlana Lloyd"

“ 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.

1957 Life Magazine Loomis Dean Christian Dior  Models  Ladder shot
Life Magazine 1957 - Svetlana top right .

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".

Svetlana Lloyd Christian Dior House Model  1950's and 2019
Svetlana then and now at the V&A

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.

St Catherines Day Christian Dior Paris 1950's Svetlana Lloyd
St Catherines Christian Dior Paris 1950's

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 . 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 Catherines.

Life magazine  Loomis Dean 1957 Dior Couture 1950s models
Svetlana in the green dress - 1957 - Loomis Dean

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.

Svetlana Lloyd 1950s Christian Dior Couture
Svetlana Lloyd Modelling Christian Dior

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.

Svetlana Lloyd 2019
Svetlana Lloyd and her Niece - V&A 2019

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.

Svetlana at Christian Dior Salon wearing the first Trapeze Dress - 30 Av. Montaigne, 75008 Paris,

Further links

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


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