Chanel

Metiers d’Art collection

December 14, 2013

Tokyo, New York, Monte-Carlo, London, Moscow, Shanghai, Byzance, Bombay, Edinburgh, and Dallas. These cites, whether existing or ancient, have all served as inspiration to Karl Lagerfeld when creating his legendary Metiers d’Art collections.  (See my other post about attending this year’s Metiers d’Art in Dallas, Texas)

Every December since 2002, Mr. Lagerfeld creates a collection, outside the official show schedule, dedicated to the craftsmen who manufacture for Chanel. Beginning in 1984, Chanel began acquiring artisan companies that specialize in everything from button making to intricate embroidery.  Today, under a Chanel subsidiary called Paraffection (which literally translates as ‘for the love of’), Chanel has acquired ten of these companies comprised of talented, highly skilled artisans.  Mr. Lagerfeld speaks of the collections as “a struggle against morosity even with what little remains.” He always makes me giggle.

Chanel is the only fashion house to have dedicated an entirely separate collection to the Metiers d’Art in order to continue it’s extraordinary expertise and legacy, creating the most beautiful designs for the past century.

Here is a little info about each of these marvelous companies:

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Desrues – Custom jewelry and button maker.  Coco Chanel first began creating buttons with Desrues in 1965 and Georges Desrues quickly became her preferred supplier. One Chanel collection alone could have up to 40 styles of custom buttons in addition to the hundred new pieces of jewelry that go with each ready to wear collection. Highly recommend clicking the hyperlink to the Desrues website, there are incredible behind the scenes videos of the craft.

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Lemarie – Handmade Feather and Camellia Craftsman. Andre Lemarie is famous for constructing the unmistakable Chanel Camellia. Coco Chanel introduced the Camellia in the early 60s and today the Maison Lemarie fills an order of about 20,000 of these beautiful flowers every year.

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Maison Michel – Hat maker. Laetitia Crahay is both in charge of Chanel’s accessories and jewelry and the artistic director of Maison Michel.  The company started in 1936 and in the 70s they were the first to construct wide brimmed hats with invisible stitching.  The fashion world took notice including Yves Saint Laurent. Chanel acquired the company in 1996.

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chanel massaroMassaro – Shoe maker. Raymond Massaro ‘s shoe company was established in 1947 and he has been creating shoes for Chanel sine 2002.  Massaro points out that for each runway show, he must deliver at least 100 handmade shoes. Sounds devine!

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Lesage – Hand-made Embroiderer.  Lesage built their name by serving many of the top fashion houses in the middle of the century.  Givenchy, Lacroix, Dior, Balenciaga have all designed embroidery with them.  As Karl famously quoted, “Haute couture without embroidery is non-existent”.

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Goossens – Goldsmith. Goossens married metals, precious stones, pearls and precious wood, silver and vermeil etc. Goossens is the signature of rock crystal. Gabrielle Chanel was one of their preferred suppliers, seduced by his ability to reinterpret the jewelry inspired by antiquity, Byzantium and Egypt.

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Guillet – Flower maker. Master corsage-maker since 1896, Guillet re-imagines daisies, forget-me-nots, jasmine, roses, lily of the valley and gerberas as hairpieces, tiaras and crowns for the biggest couture houses at show time. A Chanel Métiers d’Art house since 2006, Guillet has created all of the floral accessories for the label’s recent shows.

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Montex – Embroiderer. Establish in 1939 and acquired by Chanel in 2011, Montex specializes in the fabrics for the Haute Couture Chanel dresses which can take over 100 hours to embroider one dress.

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Causse – Glove maker.  Bruno Pavlovsky, president of Chanel fashion said “Maison Causse has rare traditional expertise that we wanted to preserve. Through this acquisition, we are sustaining excellence in glove-making in France.” Now they produce over 25,000 pairs a year with a team of 40 artisans.

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Lognon – Master pleater.  Lognon has specialized in fabric pleating since 1945, a unique expertise that combines hand-crafting with work in cardboard and steam-setting to create perfect pleats.