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Chanel celebrates Métiers d’Art

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AFP
Published
today Dec 3, 2014
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Embroiderers, feather workers, shoemakers… On Tuesday, Chanel honored the ateliers essential to its collections with a fashion show in Salzburg, Austria focused on the history of the fashion house.

In 1985, the luxury group began purchasing ateliers with invaluable expertise—primarily in France, but also in Scotland and Italy. The house has often collaborated with these ateliers, which, at the time, were in danger of disappearing.


A dozen workshops make up Paraffection, a subsidiary of Chanel that employs about a thousand people. 

As regards the ateliers that were saved from extinction, Bruno Pavlovsky, president of fashion at Chanel as well as president of the famous embroiderer Lesage, told the AFP, “it’s a terrific story, that has born very fruitful results.” The benefits of their preservation are long-term: “In 20 years, we will still be employing them for collections.” 

The latest acquisition to date came only a few days ago: weaving atelier ACT 3, which is located in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques, and which produces tweed for Chanel, was acquired on Friday by Lesage, which was itself purchased by the fashion house in 2002.

“These artisans, who know their craft well, primarily serve Chanel, as we are often either their first or second biggest client," said Bruno Pavlovsky. 

But their relationship is not exclusive: artisans also work for other houses, such as Balenciaga, Dior, Vuitton... and Chanel, meanwhile, can employ other workshops depending on the needs of its design studio.

"We don’t have to work with them all the time. We work with whomever best meets the needs of the collection," said Pavlovsky. “We realized very quickly that it was important that these ateliers continue to work with as many brands as possible.” 

- Greater visibility - 

Some houses acquired by Chanel, such as Goossens (jewelry), Massaro (footwear), Maison Michel (hats), Barrie (cashmere) and Causse (gloves) have their own collections: they "need to exist, to continue to attract people to learn the craft, and to be able to rely on various economic supports,” said Pavlovsky. 

So, "we’re trying to increase their brand's visibility as well. That doesn’t mean that we’re trying to create another Chanel. But these are brands that deserve greater recognition.” 

Scottish cashmere manufacturer Barrie and hat maker Maison Michel have just opened stores in London. Both houses also have stores in Paris. For Pavlovsky, it’s obvious that “they will sooner or later become involved in e-commerce," according to Pavlovsky. 

Cara Delevingne and Kendall Jenner star in Karl Lagerfeld's Chanel Metiers d'Art show



Since 2002, Chanel has been organizing a fashion show for these workshops, which Karl Lagerfeld presents in December, allowing for an additional collection to be added to the traditional couture and ready-to-wear calendars, while responding to the insatiable appetite of customers for novelty.

Pieces from the collection will be released in May in 180 Chanel stores around the world, signaling the beginning of winter collections. 

These “métiers d’art” ready-to-wear shows have been presented in cities associated with the brand and with Gabrielle Chanel. Following Dallas and Edinburgh, the latest edition was held on Tuesday December 2 in Salzburg, Austria, in the Schloss Leopoldskron, an 18th century rococo palace. The show featured a collection evoking the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the history of Coco Chanel’s famous jacket, which was inspired by one of the city’s hotel elevator operators.

To publicize the event, Karl Lagerfeld directed singer Pharrell Williams and model Cara Delevingne in a video that was released on Monday. 

The video features embroidered sequin butterflies by Lesage, hats produced by Maison Michel, floral designs that Lemarié created from colorful pheasant and chicken feathers… The collection required hundreds of hours of meticulous work by craftsmen in modern workshops in Pantin, near Paris, where five of these workshops are located.

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