A little-known fact to industry outsiders is the presentation of Chanel’s biannual Haute Couture collections in Dubai. At the start of the spring/summer and fall/winter seasons, the French brand hosts an exclusive event to introduce its latest couture designs to select member of the press and VIP clients.
This morning, Chanel fittingly took over a floor of Volante Tower, one of the most prestigious addresses in town, to present the newest creations of Karl Lagerfeld and his ateliers of petites mains. More than just a feast for the eyes, it was an opportunity to glean incredible details about the maison and the pieces themselves. Read on for 20 incredible facts we couldn’t help but share with you.
Haute Couture is a pillar of the house of Chanel.
Haute Couture is the foundation and DNA of Chanel. In the words of Lagerfeld, “Haute Couture is an island of dreams and escapism. It is the utmost luxury which transcends fashions and crosses time.” In fact, Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel only ever designed couture in her lifetime – ready-to-wear was launched in 1978, seven years after her passing.
Every couture collection is a joint effort by all of Chanel's 'maisons d'art'.
These maisons d’art include Maison Causse (glove-making), Maison Lemarié (feathers and camelias), Maison Lesage (embroidery), and Maison Massaro (shoemaking) amongst others. These were purchased by Chanel to preserve the heritage of couture.
The Fall/Winter 2018 collection was inspired by Paris.
Karl Lagerfeld drew inspiration from the River Seine, its iconic banks and bridges, the Parisian sky, and the city’s historical monuments – this collection is a love letter to Paris.
Zippers are the statement piece of this collection.
Whether braided or embroidered like jewels, zippers appeared on every single look from this collection, except one. They were used to slice open garments and reveal long fingerless gloves or fully embroidered miniskirts.
Coco Chanel discovered tweed thanks to the Duke of Westminster.
She would go hunting with the duke – whom she was involved with – and would wear his tweed jackets. She fell in love with the fabric’s durability, comfort, and elegance, and enlisted a Scottish manufacturer to create tweeds for her garments.
This look took 694 hours to make.
The 3-D embroidery was inspired by the vegetation on the banks of the River Seine and made by Maison Lesage with 230,000 elements.
This bodice is a work of haute couture art.
Maison Lemarié and Maison Lognons came together to create this bodice, which required hours of patience and extremely delicate work. It is embroidered with beads and sequins and features jeweled buttons at the back.
The iconic CC logo never appears in Haute Couture.
It is solely reserved for ready-to-wear.
"Elegance is when the inside is as beautiful as the outside." - Gabrielle Chanel
This philosophy explains why Chanel’s pieces are just as intricate on the inside as they are on the outside. In this collection, the inside of a kimono-inspired jacket was embroidered entirely with pansy flowers.
This skirt was made with 42 meters of chiffon.
And so were the three others that followed it down the runway.
This look was inspired by the reflection of the setting sun on the River Seine.
And it contains 200,000 elements of embroidery.
The tweeds of a couture collection are exclusive to it.
Tweed Lesage, the highest quality of tweed, is made by hand exclusively for Chanel Haute Couture by Maison Lesage.
Karl Lagerfeld experimented with aluminum for Fall/Winter 2018.
One look from the collection featured a skirt made of ultra-delicate braided aluminum sheets. Similarly, the sheets were bronzed and sandwiched in organza for a pair of evening pajamas.
Every Chanel collection features at least one little black dress.
Gabrielle Chanel’s invention of the LBD in 1926 was revolutionary. At the time, the only people who wore black were domestic staff, mourners, and members of the clergy. She allowed and encouraged women to wear black, thereby cementing the color as a symbol of elegance. This particular little black dress boasts a peplum-like ruffle around the waist through which the wearer can slip her hands.
This look was inspired by Coco Chanel's uniform at the Aubazine orphanage.
It is the only look in the collection without zipper details.
Layering and transparency are key themes of Chanel collections.
This is because Mademoiselle Chanel preferred to suggest rather than reveal the female body – as demonstrated by this look.
Buttons are never repeated.
Each look has its own design of buttons, which you won’t find anywhere else in the collection.
The wedding dress was inspired by Parisian rooftops.
This season, the wedding “dress” that closed the show was an almond-green creation, its color inspired by that of the roofs of the historic buildings in Paris. The design itself, with its olive branches, recalls the outfit worn by the members of the Academie Française, also known as “the immortals”. It took Maison Montex over 530 hours and 82,000 embroidery elements to make it.
Trompe-l'œil details are a signature of Chanel couture collections.
The feathers on this look, for instance, are in fact made of muslin with accordion pleats, while the small petals on another look are made of hand-painted pieces of silicon.
This dress was inspired by the "love locks" bridge in Paris.
The Pont des Arts pedestrian bridge, where lovers used to hang padlocks before throwing the keys in the river, inspired the very specific embroidery on this dress.