Harper's Bazaar Australia|June/July 2020
It’s a chilly December evening inside Paris’s Grand Palais (1 degree Celcius, to be precise), and despite the historic Beaux-Arts venue being transformed into a series of salons fitted out to replicate Gabrielle Chanel’s apartment, its immense scale and soaring conservatory-style glass ceiling causes French actor/singer Vanessa Paradis to shiver and pull her shawl tighter over her short-sleeved dress and bare arms.
“Everyone is so much more ecologically conscious today and intent on reducing waste,” Paradis muses, leaning back on a sumptuous gold-beige suede couch that’s a carbon copy of the original from the second-floor rue Cambon digs. “Isn’t a collection like this the definition of true sustainability? Chanel’s Métiers d’art collections showcase the work of the ateliers and their artisanship — this isn’t mass production. You should feel lucky to wear a piece like this. They’re works of art and take endless hours to create.”
Paradis is referring to the work of the fournisseurs, the 12 artisanal French maisons (and 22 manufactories) Chanel has been acquiring since 1985 in a bid to preserve their considerable fashion expertise and traditional workmanship. Many were founded more than a century ago, their work highly specialised, such as Desrues, the button supplier; Maison Michel, the milliner; Goossens, the goldsmiths; Montex and Lesage, which specialise in embroidery and tweeds; Causse, the glovemaker; and flower and feather specialist Lemarié. For close to a century these ateliers have collaborated with all the big fashion houses — Christian Dior, Schiaparelli, Yves Saint Laurent and Chanel among them — and Chanel’s purchase of them has ensured they remain important contributors not only to the development of its own products, but also to the entire industry.
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