The world of custom made dresses or haute couture is an arena shrouded in secrecy and glamor. A BBC documentary, The Secret World of Haute Couture, is a glimpse into the dress making, designers, Paris, high society and the women who belong to “the club”. A reporter discovers the high end world of handmade gowns and lets the viewer look at some of the daily rituals. About 200 women are in the circle of buying the haute couture dresses made by Christian Dior, Chanel, Valentino, Givenchy, Lacroix and Balmain. The film begins with the fashion reporter interviewing, Becca Thrash. Becca speaks of the world she has entered through her philanthropy and marriage. She is a small town girl from Texas and was fascinated by the dresses in the pages of Vogue. The dresses are shown at The Musee de Beaux Arts, Bois de Bologne and The Grand Palais. Susan Gutfreund, a NYC socialite, attends the Paris shows and purchases gowns from the ateliers. She travels between NY and Paris and became a fixture in the world of delicate handmade gowns. The grande dames of the haute couture world are; Betsy Bloomingdale, who shows her pieces and mentions the few events at which she has worn each creation, including the Reagan inauguration. Carroll Petrie who has many foundations and shopped with the Duchess of Windsor, aka Wallace Simpson and Marisa Berenson. The film documentary interviews designer, John Galliano of Dior. He explains the couture process as he shows the collection. Daphne Guinness speaks of her love for haute couture, she shows her wedding dress. These gowns can take up to 130 hrs to design with the embroidery, horse hair, stitching, apppliques and flowers. It is a special brand of fashion worn to galas, fundraisers, weddings and society events. Time will reveal if the secret world of Parisian haute fashion will stay or evolve.
The annual Métiers d’ Art spring/summer 2019/2020 runway show was held in Paris. Coco Chanel or Gabrielle’s House of Chanel, is a French atelier and one of the most well recognized haute couture brands in the world. Chanel is legendary and has a distinctive heritage and legacy. As it is July 14th, Bastille Day, what better way to celebrate than to buy a Chanel tweed suit, layers of mode pearls, a black and white dress or chainlink accessory. Métier means craft in French and the workmanship and the designs have been perfected and adapted to the times. Artistic director, Virgine Viard, worked with Chanel and the Maison D’ Art to produce the fashion show. This year, Sophia Coppola, film producer, captures the behind the scenes of a runway show, the styles, Parisian chic, the models and the excitement around a new collection. The film was shot at The Grand Palais and scenes took place at 31 Rue de Cambon, Chanel’s Paris flagship store and her former apartment.
31 Rue de Cambon address is a piece of Chanel’s life and has been incorporated into the clothier’s label. One often sees the name emblazoned on cosmetic products, perfumes, makeup and clothing. It is synonymous with the the Chanel name. This season one can see the street name stitched into a black top with Chanel pearls and the signature flower, a camellia. Black and white dresses are a part of this collection in which the contrasting colors represent black as evening and a white silhouette, a more innocent color. Pink hues, from bright to pale, are a pop of color which are seen in dresses. It is a good color for the spring and summer season as well as feminine and chic. Chanel prides itself on detail and this can be seen throughout the runway show. The classic style “male” tweed has been updated with a modern twist, showing the fabric used in a cropped jacket and low waisted skirt. The tweed and fringe make their way down the aisle, showing models and ladies who lunch wearing the famous Chanel tweed fringe suits. The quilted pattern is a staple and is used for their leather bags, shoes and wallets. Sophia Coppola envisions a chic Parisian woman descending down Chanel’s spiraling staircase and attending a soiree or spending an evening at La Coupoule. Coppola and Viard work together and use the Chanel codes to bring out the brand’s traditional looks. A white camellia flower symbol is used on item such as; clothing, compacts and haute joaillerie. The floral look is feminine and one can spot the white flower on a black Chanel shopping bag with the stark white lettering. Chanel #5 and Rouge Chanel, in red, are the epitome of Chanel beauté.
The gold interlocking double C’s represent Coco Chanel’s signature name and are printed on everything from makeup cases and lipstick to shoes, bags and apparel. It is a status symbol and heritage, but carries the name of the icon, Coco Chanel. Another element which is incorporated into the show is wheat. Gabrielle Chanel commissioned goldsmith, Robert Goosens, to create an ageless base of lustrous wheat for an apartment table. The glowing golden color is embroidered by the House of Lesage and is pictured on a strapless dress and tulle skirt, representing a golden touch and whimsical aura. Bows are frequent on the runway which are playful and reminiscent of a school girl’s bow. Mixed with golden chain links, there is a creation of a sensual and proper lady like style. The famous pearls Chanel preferred are a milky white and and this year are seen as chokers, on cuff bracelets and a piaston necklace. Coco prided herself on a golden birdcage which she owned and it is seen on a minaudière clutch. The Hose of LaMaire uses flowers and embroidery to create clothes with ruffles and pleats, creating a dynamic look for their spring season. Check out the Chanel s/s 2019/2020 Métier d’Art Show and see the film.