Chanel Haute Couture: Part I

Inside Lesage & Lemarié

You know those milestones you dream about and know that you’ll remember forever if they ever happen to come true? Working together with Chanel is one of those milestones for me. It’s so easy to rush through work, finish a project and then jump straight into the next one, but there are certain moment you have to stop for a second to think about (and to realise) what you’re actually doing. I’m going to share a personal little anecdote with you that I hope won’t be too cheesy… When I first moved to Paris (after those four months on trial) I said to one of my dearest friends, after getting my very first photography assignment that was somewhat fashion related (but not really actually): the day I get to attend a Chanel show is the day I know my dreams have come true. I know, I know, I warned you about the cheesiness. But despite being cheesy and all, it’s actually something that gives me goosebumps to think about. Something that seemed so unattainable and unreal a few years ago has become my reality today. And I’m so grateful.

Ever since my very first meeting with Chanel sometime in February or March earlier this year I’ve been dying to share what we’ve been planning for the Haute Couture show that just happened today. I haven’t been able to tell many people or share photos that I’ve taken with a single soul since everything obviously is highly confidential before the show so I’m so extremely thrilled to share this journey of a Chanel Haute Couture garment from a sketch to walking down the runway with you all.

Inside Lesage & Lemarié
Inside Lesage & Lemarié
Inside Lesage & Lemarié
Inside Lesage & Lemarié
Inside Lesage & Lemarié
Inside Lesage & Lemarié

The Lemarié atelier is considered to be one of the most reputed ateliers in the world for their expertise in flowers (you know the famous Camelia flowers that Chanel always uses for example?) and feathers but also in the subtle inlaying, romantic flounces, cascades of pleats and sophisticated smocking. The house works with Chanel on all of their collections as well as with some of the most prestigious couture houses in the industry. 

To see what amount of work goes into these feathers, creating all sorts of different effects to complete the Chanel designs, was just insane and something that made me appreciate haute couture even more than before. The fluffy pink feathers you see here above was used for the inside of one of the dresses in the runway show and took hours and hours to complete – and that’s just the inside of one of the dresses. 

Below you see a pattern in paper, pinned on a mannequin and the actual feather and leather version come to life. See all of that green for example? That’s all feathers. Each feather is treated, dyed and cut into the perfect pieces for the patterns the sketches show before being put on the garment by hand. Those tiny little black things you see below? Yeah, those are feathers too. 

Inside Lesage & Lemarié
Inside Lesage & Lemarié
Inside Lesage & Lemarié
Inside Lesage & Lemarié
Inside Lesage & Lemarié
Inside Lesage & Lemarié

Lesage has worked with embroidery for generations and today they have the biggest archives of couture embroideries in the whole world. They are the home to more than 60 tons of tassels, rhinestones, ribbons, beads and crystals, which they’ve sourced over centuries and every single year Lesage adds to this heritage with hundreds of new embroideries. Designers and fashion houses can come here for inspiration and go through thousands and thousands embroideries to gather ideas and inspiration for their upcoming creations – a room that I had a hard time leaving while visiting. 

It was truly incredible to see all of the steps involved in making these immaculate embroideries, covering many of Chanel’s designs, that you never even thought about before. From here the finished feather and flowers creations, along with all the embroideries, are sent of to the Chanel ateliers where the garments will be put together. Something I’ll share with you in just a bit!