The Fashion Club with Justine Picardie

We recently held our first in-person fashion club event for the first time in over 18 months. Our CEO, Kate Stephens, shares some thoughts from a wonderful evening with the Smart Works community.

One of the most challenging things about lockdown has been not being able to bring our Smart Works community together in person.  We have all missed the connection, exuberance, and, frankly, joy that comes from evenings such as our Fashion Club events.  The energy that comes from bringing together smart, inspiring women, united by a collective sense of purpose, is not to be underestimated.  That we can do all this whilst raising funds for the charity is one of the great pleasures of Smart Works.

All of this made it particularly wonderful to host our first, in-person Fashion Club event at the Hotel Cafe Royal last week, welcoming author Justine Picardie in conversation with our Chair, Julietta Dexter, about her new book, ‘Miss Dior: A Story of Courage and Couture’.  Justine vividly recounted the story of Catherine Dior’s dedication to the French resistance and influence on Christian Dior’s legendary work.

Everyone was captivated as Justine’s extraordinary story-telling took us from the rose gardens of Provence to the Belle Epoque of turn-of-the-century Normandy to the Parisian couture houses, via the juxtaposition of the harrowing reality of life in Occupied France. The queue to secure a signed copy of the book at the end of the evening was a testimony to the power of this remarkable story.

In a small way, Justine’s portrayal of Catherine Dior’s courageous life echoed the resilience and hope that exists within the Smart Works community.  One of our clients, Nabiirah, opened the evening by speaking about the empowerment she has felt in her life since first visiting us in 2019. Wearing the same beautiful cream jacket that equipped her for success at her job interview, Nabirrah told the audience (to huge cheers),

‘I have not been to an interview for a job or training programme since visiting Smart Works and not got the job. The proof is in the pudding.’

Justine also gave us some beautiful words from Virginia Woolf that spoke to the power of fashion, and perhaps offered an insight into why the Smart Works service can have such an impact.

“Vain trifles as they seem, clothes have more important offices than to merely keep us warm. They change our view of the world and the world’s view of us.”

Expect to see that appearing on the walls of our Smart Works centres very soon. 

We would like to extend a special thank you to Justine, to Nabiirah, to the team at Dior, who spoilt our guests with a wonderful goodie bag and raffle gift, to the Hotel Café Royal for sharing their glorious venue, and to Faber publishing and Primrose Hill Books for donating proceeds of book sales.

Enjoy the photos below, and the wonderful evening they bring to life, and if you aren’t already signed up, please do consider joining the Fashion Club.

Join the Fashion Club
Some highlights from a wonderful evening

Catching up with old friends

A wonderful gift bag from Dior

Our new Client Advisory Board joined us for the evening

An exclusive pop up shop

Happy to be back together again

Champagne on tap

Scouring the rails for a bargain

Justine Picardie signing books for attendees

Justine Picardie, Julietta Dexter and Kate Stephens

Cheersing to a good time

Kate introducing the event and explaining the importance of Fashion Club

Our client Naribah talking about the impact Smart Works has had on her life

A very special moment between client and CEO

Justine and Julietta talking about her wonderful book

Our wonderful ambassadors sitting front row

Personalising books after a wonderful Q&A

Volunteers, clients and ambassadors coming together to celebrate our wonderful community

A happy moment at the end of a wonderful evening

01 / 17