An Exclusive Look Inside Chanel’s Couture Ateliers

Delve into the world of Chanel to discover the brand’s seven incredible maisons of savoir faire, ranging from tanneries to milliners.


Maison Desrues

Specialty: Haute Couture Costume Jewelry, Buttons, and Accessories

While Chanel owns Maison Desrues, this atelier was originally established in 1929 and did not become Mademoiselle “Coco” Chanel’s specialty button maker until 1965. In fact, ownership wasn’t transferred until 1984. However, dozens of brands call upon the incredible prowess of Maison Desrues’ craftspeople to create intricate buttons, as well as a variety of costume jewelry. The atelier currently employs upward of 160 people who work hard to accommodate even the most outlandish desires of Karl Lagerfeld for his collections.


Maison Causse

Specialty: Glove Making

 

Also known as the “cradle of the international glove-making industry”, Maison Causse is located in the French town of Millau and has been responsible for crafting the world’s most beautiful gloves for the past 120 years. Chanel acquired Causse in 2012 and has tasked the superlative atelier with creating an inventive variety of gloves that rely on high-grade materials like lambskin, peccary, crocodile, and python.


Maison Goossens

Specialty: Gold and Silversmithing

Some of fashion’s most iconic jewelry has come from the talented hands at Maison Goossens, which is revealed in vivid detail in the beautiful tome ‘Maison Goossens by Patrick Mauries’. This legendary gold and silversmithing atelier has not strayed from the old-world approach to jewelry crafting and takes incredible care to cast and create each minute element of its pieces. Goossens was established in the 1950s but not acquired by Chanel until 2005.


Maison Lemarié

Specialty: Feathers and Camellias

Thanks to the sartorial skills of Marie Antoinette, feathered hats became the height of Parisian sophistication, and the trend proved to be enduring. Unfortunately, 500 of the city’s plumasseries were closed over the years due to slowing demand for fully-feathered costumery and millinery. One of the few remaining maisons, however, proves its excellence on a daily basis. Maison Lemarié is legendary in its own right, and many of the world’s top haute couturiers have relied on the feather specialists for decades. Chanel acquired Maison Lemarié in 1996.


Les Ateliers Lognons

Specialty: Pleating

Four generations of pleat makers comprise Les Ateliers Lognons, which was established in 1945 and purchased by Chanel in 2013. Some of the most memorable features of Chanel’s couture and ‘Métiers d’Art’ collections are the intricate pleating details, each fold lovingly handcrafted within this atelier. In addition to crafting for Chanel, Les Ateliers Lognons also creates for the ballet, opera, cinema, and a few individual clients.


Maison Lesage

Specialty: Embroidery

In one form or another, Maison Lesage has been around since the beginning of couture. Originally known as “Michonet” – which serviced Charles Frederick Worth, the grandfather of the couture movement – the atelier was taken over by Albert and Marie-Louise Lesage in 1924. Not only is Maison Lesage considered to be the best embroidery atelier in the world, but it is also responsible for pioneering many technical innovations that others use today. Chanel acquired Lesage in 2002.


Maison Massaro

Specialty: Shoemaking

Maison Massaro, established in 1947, is involved in all aspects of shoemaking, including repair and redesign. This is the place where Chanel’s most imaginative footwear designs come to life, as expert craftsmen render complex patterns into graceful, beautifully built shoes. Each Massaro customer gets a “last”, or a wooden shoe mold for every pair of shoes that is made for them, which is stored on the premises. From measurement to material cutting and construction, one pair can take as many as 60 hours to complete. Chanel acquired Massaro in 2002.

Delve into the world of Chanel to discover the brand’s seven incredible maisons of savoir faire, ranging from tanneries to milliners.


Maison Desrues

Specialty: Haute Couture Costume Jewelry, Buttons, and Accessories

While Chanel owns Maison Desrues, this atelier was originally established in 1929 and did not become Mademoiselle “Coco” Chanel’s specialty button maker until 1965. In fact, ownership wasn’t transferred until 1984. However, dozens of brands call upon the incredible prowess of Maison Desrues’ craftspeople to create intricate buttons, as well as a variety of costume jewelry. The atelier currently employs upward of 160 people who work hard to accommodate even the most outlandish desires of Karl Lagerfeld for his collections.


Maison Causse

Specialty: Glove Making

 

Also known as the “cradle of the international glove-making industry”, Maison Causse is located in the French town of Millau and has been responsible for crafting the world’s most beautiful gloves for the past 120 years. Chanel acquired Causse in 2012 and has tasked the superlative atelier with creating an inventive variety of gloves that rely on high-grade materials like lambskin, peccary, crocodile, and python.


Maison Goossens

Specialty: Gold and Silversmithing

Some of fashion’s most iconic jewelry has come from the talented hands at Maison Goossens, which is revealed in vivid detail in the beautiful tome ‘Maison Goossens by Patrick Mauries’. This legendary gold and silversmithing atelier has not strayed from the old-world approach to jewelry crafting and takes incredible care to cast and create each minute element of its pieces. Goossens was established in the 1950s but not acquired by Chanel until 2005.


Maison Lemarié

Specialty: Feathers and Camellias

Thanks to the sartorial skills of Marie Antoinette, feathered hats became the height of Parisian sophistication, and the trend proved to be enduring. Unfortunately, 500 of the city’s plumasseries were closed over the years due to slowing demand for fully-feathered costumery and millinery. One of the few remaining maisons, however, proves its excellence on a daily basis. Maison Lemarié is legendary in its own right, and many of the world’s top haute couturiers have relied on the feather specialists for decades. Chanel acquired Maison Lemarié in 1996.


Les Ateliers Lognons

Specialty: Pleating

Four generations of pleat makers comprise Les Ateliers Lognons, which was established in 1945 and purchased by Chanel in 2013. Some of the most memorable features of Chanel’s couture and ‘Métiers d’Art’ collections are the intricate pleating details, each fold lovingly handcrafted within this atelier. In addition to crafting for Chanel, Les Ateliers Lognons also creates for the ballet, opera, cinema, and a few individual clients.


Maison Lesage

Specialty: Embroidery

In one form or another, Maison Lesage has been around since the beginning of couture. Originally known as “Michonet” – which serviced Charles Frederick Worth, the grandfather of the couture movement – the atelier was taken over by Albert and Marie-Louise Lesage in 1924. Not only is Maison Lesage considered to be the best embroidery atelier in the world, but it is also responsible for pioneering many technical innovations that others use today. Chanel acquired Lesage in 2002.


Maison Massaro

Specialty: Shoemaking

Maison Massaro, established in 1947, is involved in all aspects of shoemaking, including repair and redesign. This is the place where Chanel’s most imaginative footwear designs come to life, as expert craftsmen render complex patterns into graceful, beautifully built shoes. Each Massaro customer gets a “last”, or a wooden shoe mold for every pair of shoes that is made for them, which is stored on the premises. From measurement to material cutting and construction, one pair can take as many as 60 hours to complete. Chanel acquired Massaro in 2002.

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While the legendary house of Chanel has long impressed the world with its intricately crafted clothing and accessories, few people are aware of the intense labor of love that goes into the making of the brand’s most elite looks. Over the years, Chanel has acquired many famous couture ateliers – some of which even pre-date its existence – and this group of specialty ateliers is known as Paraffection. Under the umbrella of Paraffection, ateliers that focus on the smallest of details (everything from feather applications and buttons to fabric flowers and gloves) help create Chanel’s exquisite couture and ‘Métiers d’Art’ collections. Furthermore, Chanel’s acquisition of these ateliers helped rescue the faltering haute-couture sector, as many of these maisons were struggling before the brand bought them.

With Chanel recently acquiring family-run company Richard Tannery – a specialist in lambskin – Savoir Flair felt this was the perfect time to investigate its acclaimed ateliers. In this exclusive feature, we take you behind the scenes of seven incredible maisons for a look at the action as skilled artisans craft unbelievably intricate details for Chanel’s collections.

Photos: Courtesy of Chanel

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