Most Chanel shoppers walk into their favorite Chanel boutique and either pre-order pieces or buy straight off the rack. If you want Chanel, those are your two options—if you’re not a special Chanel client. For a select few, there’s a custom experience of buying (and viewing) Chanel, rooted in the heritage of Chanel’s atelier tradition. That experience is Haute Couture.
Haute Couture, literally “high sewing,” is high fashion by definition. It doesn’t get classier, more detailed or more expensive than this. All Haute Couture pieces are bespoke and made by hand, fitting perfectly according to a client’s measurements. Because of this process, every piece is unique—and undoubtedly a piece of art. Only the most VIP of Chanel clients are invited to Haute Couture shows and events, and can order bespoke pieces, ranging from daywear to evening gowns.
Recently, glamorous fashionista—and our new PurseBop Correspondent from Russia that will be reporting insider information—Katya Ackermann (@katyackermann) had the privilege of attending an Haute Couture event, where she saw the dazzling designs up close. She’s been so generous as to share the details of the evening with us. Read on for exclusive insights (and photos) on Chanel Haute Couture behind the scenes!
Last month, I was lucky enough to be invited to the “Villa Chanel” event in Moscow, based on Chanel’s Haute Couture Spring-Summer 2019 Collection. It was the first time the House of Chanel brought its Haute Couture creations to Russia in at least a decade. On May 22, in Maison 45 on Bolshaya Nikitsiaya Street, the attendees gathered in anticipation.
I was especially looking forward to welcoming the Chanel Haute Couture Paris team: Marie Helene Chenut, Director of Haute Couture Paris; Martha Ortiz, Clients Relations Haute Couture Paris; and Virginie Laubie, Director Salons Haute Couture Paris.
The Maison 45 is a three-floor building perfectly suited to the Villa theme of the fashion show. All the guests were sitting in the elegant salon, where the models were walking between the tables, dressed up head-to-toe in the collection.
As the models walked, Marie Helene described the designs in detail. She mentioned Karl Lagerfeld’s inspiration behind each look, the techniques the ateliers used and exactly how long it took to create each piece. She explained every silhouette and every cut, giving us an idea of where the main motifs of the maison could be found throughout the collection, and how they were connected to and inspired by Coco Chanel’s life.
The Designs Up-Close
I honestly have to admit that when you see these creations in person, so very close to you, it’s really an amazing experience! The Villa Chanel Collection turned out to be luxurious and refined, just as you’d expect. But it was also aristocratic in an unexpected way: the rebellious spirit of the 1980s and classic Chanel styles organically combined with Victorian-era trends, each look gorgeously finalized with punk details.
Tunic dresses. Voluminous skirts and sleeves. An open line across the shoulders. Beautifully embroidered floral patterns. Dried flowers and matching floral accessories in the models’ hair in light pink and fresh mint colors. All these images reminded me of the awe-inspiring clothes of Marie-Antoinette and of the 18th and 19th centuries.
At the same time, similar colors (though a few tones brighter) featured prominently in other looks—ones with hyperbolic feathering, black leather jackets and bold miniskirts, complemented by expressive make-up with smoky eyes and hairstyles in the spirit of David Bowie. These 80s-era images alternated with classic tweed suits and dresses, presented in several pastel and black colors, that were redolent of famous Chanel looks.
The “Atelier” Experience
Unfortunately, only half of the collection came to Moscow, since the 72nd Cannes Film Festival was happening at the same time, where many celebrities were wearing pieces from this beautiful collection on the red carpet. After the collection presentation, we had a chance to see the creations up close, personally greet the team, and ask Marie Helene questions. Then, there was an interesting surprise.
Once we thought that the event was over, we were invited to the third floor of the Maison, where the Chanel team prepared an unexpected activity for us! The floor was set up as if it were one of the Haute Couture atelier salons in Paris, and we were offered the opportunity to be craftsmen ourselves (well, to make our own Haute Couture piece of black lace).
We were thrilled and found the whole process illuminating. The final piece of black lace had to be made of two pieces stitched in a way so that you couldn’t see the stitches, and it also had to keep its stretchy quality. Admittedly, it took us a while, but in the end it was truly exciting to feel like we were real atelier masters ourselves. An absolutely incredible experience!
Without exception, Chanel always knows how to surprise us. How much Chanel cares about clients is evident at every one of the brand’s events, where each time Chanel offers us the chance to experience something new and interesting. Color me impressed.
It’s not only about the collections of accessories, clothes and high jewelry, but also the way Chanel communicates with its clients, making them feel beloved and privileged through the many interesting shows, events and exhibitions around the world.
I hope you enjoyed this look into the world of Chanel Haute Couture! I can’t wait to share with you more of my experience traveling the world with Chanel in the future.
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