Jacqueline Smeyers-Picot

Head Seamstress, Haute Couture Workshop
Christian Dior Couture

My Métier d’Excellence

I’m the Première d’Atelier, the Head Seamstress at the Christian Dior Couture Haute Couture workshop. This métier spans a multitude of facets. I receive sketches from our Artistic Director Maria Grazia Chiuri for execution by our model makers, who must create the shape of the piece, working from the sketches. Then the garment is fitted on a model and presented to Maria Grazia Chiuri, who may decide to adjust or correct certain things. My role in this process of making the clothes is to act as coordinator, ensuring that each step proceeds smoothly.

What I love most about my métier

I love the constant renewal you find in haute couture. The story never repeats itself, there are always new materials, shapes and more. It requires constant research, which we do as a team. There’s a lot of sharing among us, and there’s an incredible atmosphere that allows us to take up fresh challenges each season. Ahead of each of our runway shows, I have to admit we always hold our breath, hoping that everything goes well. And I’m always amazed when I watch the show and see the models to which we contributed come to life. That’s the beauty of this métier.

The most important things you need for this métier 

Passion is absolutely  essential. Without passion, you simply can’t do it. Then you need considerable patience. Learning this métier takes quite a long time, and even now I continue to learn each day. That’s also why I think listening is very important, both in order to learn the skills, as well as to understand the needs of each person in the atelier. Lastly, my current role involves a management dimension, which means knowing how to manage a team and create the best possible atmosphere.

Passing on the métier to new generations

This is something absolutely essential for me, because one day somebody passed on their savoir-faire to me, they taught me the métier. That’s how I succeeded, and in return I feel an obligation to help young people and share what I know. That’s also why I have remained in this métier, I feel I still have a lot to give.

An anecdote?

One moment that made me feel particularly proud at Christian Dior Couture was to work on a dress for a well-known person for her marriage. I was not as moved as she was, but almost! I was very worried that the fabric in the train wouldn’t fall correctly under the actual circumstances, or that something would go wrong with the dress in the church. I have to admit I was quite relieved at the end of the ceremony, even though I was delighted to see the dress worn at last!